My husband was diagnosed with cluster migranes. He gets them every year around Thanksgiving. They are getting more severe and lasting for a longer period of time each year – almost 3 weeks now. He did go to a neurologist for this – MRI is clear.
Also, every March he goes into this paranoid rageful state. It too is getting worse and now lasts about 6 weeks into April. His paranoia is always centered on me – that I am a woman therefore I am unfaithful. His last wife ran off with his best friend 15 years ago. We have been together 12 years and I have never given him any reason to suspect anything. Unfortunately, the worse the paranoia and anger the more he drinks his beer. 6 – 8 cases of beer a week during this time is not unusual for him.
Every comment and non-comment, every look, even whatever is on TV sets him off. “I know what they really mean!” “You cooked that because that’s what your boyfriend likes.” “They really think this.” Then the name calling and horrible accusations begin again. In his drunken rage which he builds up to, he calls anyone associated with me and screams at them they are helping “that sl**** to cheat on me”. A former boss and a college director were both receipients of such phone calls. He tracks my mileage and won’t allow me to answer the phone or go anywhere without him and if he says no, which he usually does, we don’t go.
Then *poof*! Magically, it is over. He just wakes up one day his usual dysfunctional self instead of the drunken paranoid rageful one. He doesn’t remember most of the episodes or even most of what he said and denies that anything was ever wrong. His drinking cuts back to his normal 2 – 4 cases of beer a week. And his rage is now directed toward traffic.
Every year I go through this and every year it gets worse. I hope you can tell me what is wrong with him and how I can best deal with it and/or get him into treatment if that is what is needed.
A: I suspect your heading may be right. There are some people who react to seasonal changes of light and develop a depression, usually around November and again in March. This is called SAD, “seasonal affective disorder.” My guess is that your husband is self-medicating with alcohol, thinking it will give him relief. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and only makes things worse. When your husband is depressed and drinks he becomes a very mean drunk with black-outs about his behavior.
You present his level of drinking very matter-of-factly. I’m concerned that you are so used to it that you can’t see that he is an alcoholic. 2-4 cases of beer every week isn’t “normal”. 6 – 8 cases is way, way out of control. For this to get better, he has to get in control of his drinking. I encourage you to find an Al-Anon meeting. (Call 1 800 344 2666.) That program can give you some personal support as well as some practical advice about how to encourage your husband to get treatment. Finally, your husband should be evaluated for SAD by a mental health professional. If that diagnosis is correct, he needs medication for his depression, not beer.
I wish you well.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Mar 2008
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Weird seasonal behavior getting worse every year. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/04/weird-seasonal-behavior-getting-worse-every-year/