My wife (age 39) has past history of depression followed by several months’ therapy long time back. Lately once every year for the past 3 years for about a period of 2-4 months each year, she has been showing some severe behavioral responses to stressful situations. For normal people, these may not seem stressful situations usually, like house hunting, work load at college, arguments among couples, etc.
But often when the stress remains for several days, especially with doing something new, she starts showing various reactions, like sadness, complete change in personality from a jovial one to a quiet depressive one, with a constant facial expression showing emotional hurt, withdrawal from normal activities, complete loss of sexual drive, aversion of eye contact, responding in frustrated way to normal questions, irregular sleep or lack of sleep, irregular eating schedules, complete lack of compassion.
Taking one example, she started studying with a seemingly normal mood. She was unable to find a word for her work, which made her extremely frustrated. Even my inability to help with that word was met by seeming skepticism as if I wasn’t actually trying to help. After 3 hours, she got up with a sad expression, complete silence, averting eye contact, and saying good night in a frustrated dejected way and retiring for the day.
On normal days she is a very loving person, but she is not a threat to anybody even during the bad days. However, her reactions were more severe 3 years ago, with tendencies to cry all day, sitting in the dark corner of a room, shivering, inability to talk, facial spasms. These don’t happen often and is never visible to anybody outside home. But there is always an underlying chance that any severe condition or normal arguments may trigger her reactions. Somehow, such stressful situations arose exactly once each of these 3 years, and hence that many reaction phases.
However she is smart and completely aware of everything and hence not willing to see a professional.
My question: What exactly is it that can be going on with her?Is there a name for this?Are there materials that I can read and show her to persuade her to take help? Is there really a treatment? Is it actually a disorder or something else?
Please help. This affects daily life and normal relationships at home. (From the USA)

A:  It is unfortunate that your wife is not willing to seek a consultation from a professional. It isn’t possible for me to render a diagnosis, but what I can say is that her symptoms are something that are well-researched, understood and treated. I would highly recommend asking her to join you in seeking out a therapist. Let her know you want to find the best way to help and would like her there to explain her situation. Having the two of you go together may soften and facilitate the process. The Find Help tab at the top of the page will help you find someone near you.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral