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Mental Health and Dissociative Fugue

How Is Dissociative Fugue Treated?

The goal of dissociative fugue treatment is to help the person come to terms with the stress or trauma that triggered the fugue. Treatment also aims to develop new coping methods to prevent further fugue episodes. The best treatment approach depends on the individual and the severity of his or her symptoms, but most likely will include some combination of the following treatment methods:

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, a type of counseling, is the main treatment for dissociative disorders. This treatment uses techniques designed to encourage communication of conflicts and increase insight into problems.
  • Cognitive therapy: This type of therapy focuses on changing dysfunctional thinking patterns and resulting feelings and behaviors.
  • Medication: There is no medication to treat the dissociative disorders themselves. However, a person with a dissociative disorder who also suffers from depression or anxiety might benefit from treatment with a medication such as antidepressant, anti-anxiety, or antipsychotic drugs.
  • Family therapy: This helps to teach the family about the disorder and its causes, as well as to help family members recognize symptoms of a recurrence.
  • Creative therapies (art therapy, music therapy): These therapies allow the patient to explore and express his or her thoughts and feelings in a safe and creative way.
  • Clinical hypnosis: This is a treatment method that uses intense relaxation, concentration, and focused attention to achieve an altered state of consciousness (awareness), allowing people to explore thoughts, feelings, and memories they might have hidden from their conscious minds. The use of hypnosis for treating dissociative disorders is controversial due to the risk of creating false memories.

What Is the Outlook for People With Dissociative Fugue?

Most dissociative fugues are brief, lasting from less than a day to several months. Often, the disorder goes away on its own. The outlook, therefore, is quite good. However, without treatment to work out the underlying problem, additional fugue episodes can occur.

Can Dissociative Fugue Be Prevented?

Although it might not be possible to prevent dissociative fugue, it might be helpful to begin treatment in people as soon as they begin to have symptoms. Further, quick intervention following a traumatic event or emotionally distressing experience might help reduce the risk of developing dissociative disorders.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 23, 2014

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