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Triggering a Fugue State

Lido Wellness Center Blog

How Stress and Trauma Can Trigger a Fugue State

June 21, 2023

Have you ever found yourself lost or confused about your whereabouts, without any recollection of how you got to where you currently are? If so, then there is a chance that you have experienced a dissociative fugue state. This rare condition refers to a temporary disarray in the mind that can often cause amnesia, confusion, or identity issues.

What is a fugue state?

During a fugue state, a person may unexpectedly and temporarily lose their autobiographical memory, personal identity, and awareness of their past. They may also engage in impulsive travel or wandering.

They may suddenly leave their home or workplace, travel to a new location, and assume a new identity or adopt a different name. They often have no recollection of their previous life, including their personal relationships, responsibilities, or events that occurred prior to the fugue state. This state of dissociation can be perplexing and disorienting for both the individual experiencing it and those around them.

Stress, Trauma, and Dissociative Fugue States

Although researchers continue to explore the core triggers behind the onset of a fugue state, most psychologists today believe that high-stress levels and trauma are often the root cause. However, this is hardly a surprise. Stress and trauma significantly impact our mental health and often lie at the center of various mental health conditions that most people face today.

When we come face-to-face with overwhelming levels of stress or trauma, such as sexual assault or the violent loss of a loved one, our brain may choose to react in one of many ways. Sometimes, people become flooded with anger or despair in the face of this intense trauma, while others may become lost in incoming waves of depression.

However, in some cases, some people take a more mysterious path. If our mind believes that facing this trauma head-on may be too overwhelming, it may completely disconnect from the situation as a way of protecting itself. This disassociation is often so powerful that the person who experienced the trauma does not only disconnect from this event but also their core identity.

So, while this level of disassociation may vary from person to person, people that experience a fugue state may go as far as taking on a newborn persona during this period. This disassociation allows us to forget this overwhelming trauma or stress and continue to live a life of blissful ignorance.

Stress Management to Control Fugue State

While it is rare for anyone to experience fugue states, some may battle constant episodes of this condition.

There are various ways to manage a dissociative fugue state, such as stress management or trauma support. These psychological methods help you get back in the driving seat of life by teaching you healthy coping mechanisms you can rely on when facing high-stress levels.

These adaptive strategies should make it easier to maintain control of your life and reduce the chances of slipping into a fugue state.

  1. Therapy: Engaging in therapy, particularly with a mental health professional experienced in treating dissociative disorders, can be crucial in preventing fugue states. Different therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or trauma-focused therapy, may be utilized to address underlying trauma, improve coping mechanisms, and develop strategies to manage stress.
  2. Stress management: Learning effective stress management techniques can be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of dissociative episodes. This may include practicing relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation, engaging in regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and identifying and managing stress triggers.
  3. Self-care and support: Prioritizing self-care activities, such as getting sufficient sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, can contribute to overall emotional well-being and resilience. Building a support network of trusted friends, family, or support groups can also provide a sense of connection and assistance during challenging times.
  4. Addressing trauma: If the fugue state is associated with past trauma, seeking specialized trauma-focused therapy can be helpful in processing and resolving the underlying traumatic experiences. Therapies like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) can assist in healing trauma-related wounds and reducing the risk of dissociative episodes.

Help for Dissociative Disorders in Newport Beach

Dissociative fugue is considered to be one subtype of dissociative disorders, which also include dissociative amnesia, dissociative identity disorder, and depersonalization/derealization disorder. If you want to talk to someone about your options for IOP treatment in Newport Beach for fugue state triggers, call Lido Wellness today. Our experienced team is ready to help you understand your options and give you the help you need for the next step in your journey.

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- Alumnus, Lido Wellness Center

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