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Severe Mood Swings, Sadness, Withdrawal Under Stressful Conditions

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

 

Severe Mood Swings, Sadness, Withdrawal Under Stressful Conditions

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2017). Severe Mood Swings, Sadness, Withdrawal Under Stressful Conditions. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/10/28/severe-mood-swings-sadness-withdrawal-under-stressful-conditions/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Oct 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Oct 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.