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Short waves/bursts of depression, possibly related to alcohol consumption

I've done extensive internet research and even spoken with health professionals on this matter, but no one ever has a solid answer or advice on my situation.  

I am a female, 28, ideal weight/height ratio, exercise 5 days per week, eat extremely healthy (mostly vegetarian, 3-4 meat/animal protein servings per week).  I drink water, 1-2 cups of coffee some mornings, but no soda.  I limit my intake of sugar and avoid processed foods.  No medications, no history of mental illness, no record of mental illness in my genetic background.

I drink alcohol about once a week, when I go out on Saturday.  If I have even a single glass of wine or beer, at some point the next day I will probably experience a short 'burst' or 'wave' of a very intense, debilitating depression.  During that depression, I can't move or speak.  If I'm doing something in public, like walking in a store, I'll probably slow down and stare at the same box of cereal on a shelf for a minute.  But in about 30 seconds to a minute, it's over, and it's like it never happened- I feel back to normal, I resume walking, whatever.

But the problem is that I can't connect this solely to alcohol consumption, as I've definitely been experiencing this since I was a kid.  It occurred less frequently, maybe 1-2 times every 2-3 months.  But currently, I can experience this at least 1-2 times per month, and almost always 1-2 days after I've consumed alcohol.  Simply not consuming alcohol, therefore, is not the solution.  In an effort to prevent these waves, I went off of alcohol for two months, did a cleanse/detox diet and drank only water.  While I felt great every other second of that time, I still experienced one very intense, horrible wave that lasted at least a full minute.  If anything, I was so clear-headed from the cleanse diet that the depression actually felt worse.  I'm not kidding.

All the research I've done has yielded information on a short-term depression that lasts 1-3 days.  Nobody else seems to be experiencing this, so I'm hoping that posting this will help me find others that possibly know more about what's going on with me.

Clearly this isn't currently a long-term or lasting depression, but it's frightening for me during the 'burst/wave' because it comes out of nowhere, has happened to me for a long time, and no one can tell me anything about it.  I'm concerned that it might be indicative of something more severe, or something that could eventually turn into a severe long-term depression.  
7 Responses
Avatar universal
Hello, I read your post and sounds very difficult to pin point a definite root cause to it, but can you explain further the depression state, do you feel tired? fatigue? dizzy? in pain? brain fog? shaky? or any other feeling? have any sweet food craving?

These happen to me as well. It's about 15-30 seconds of intense, miserable depression that stops me dead in my tracks. During this time, I even feel suicidal. I have been diagnosed with depression, but, like you, these have been happening ever since I was a kid. Mine seems to sometimes be triggered my (this is really bizzare I know) my stomach. For example, if im sitting in a position where there's pressure on my stomach or I'm straining it, I get these waves. They happen without this as well, but the stomach thing seems to be a big trigger. When you said that it makes you stare at a cereal box and leaves you in a daze, that is exactly what happens to me. I just zone out because the feeling is so miserable and terrible. No one has ever been able to give me an answer either.
370181 tn?1428180348
I've never heard of such brief episodes of depression before. I know that many people, myself included, experience brief episodes of.........and since I don't know if there is an actual name for this, I'll just call it "lost time." For me, I'll sort of "come to" in the grocery store and realize that even tho I'm staring at a bin full of apples, I wasn't thinking about apples. Actually, I have no idea WHAT I was thinking about. I was just "gone" for a short period of time.......maybe 30-60 seconds? I've also experienced it when I've been driving and realize that I have absolutely no recollection of the last 5 miles. I find THAT really frightening.

But these events of mine don't leave me feeling depressed. A bit spooked, absolutely, but not depressed. I know the fear of wondering if this is just a precursor to something more severe or long-lasting, I'm haunted with the thought that one day I may not "come back" from wherever I go.

I think I may have experienced this when I was a child. My mum used to tell me that I'd have such deep "day dreams," that she'd have to actually touch me to get me out of them. I don't have real definite memories of them, more like vague feelings.............  

In your last paragraph you spoke of your fear by writing........" it's frightening for me during the 'burst/wave' because it comes out of nowhere, has happened to me for a long time, and no one can tell me anything about it."

That paragrah almost made me cry because I could relate so strongly to it. I have PTSD with severe panic disorder. I had my first panic attack when I was 13. (I'm now 60) It was the most frightening feeling I'd had in my life and like yours, they came out of nowhere at any time. I had them for nearly 3 decades before they stopped calling me a "Nervous Nellie" or "Anxious Annie." A "worry-wart." "Hysterical and hormonal." One doctor even told me it was probably happening because I was a "hippie." He didn't actually come out and say I was smoking "whacky-tabacky" but that sure as hell what he meant.

It wasn't until 10+ years after Viet Nam that a young doctor listened to my story and said, without hesitation that I had PTSD with panic disorder and put me on the right medication and got me into therapy. I understand your frustration in not knowing and possibly not being believed. You've done enough waiting yourself.

It sounds like you've followed all the right avenues for an answer, I can't think of any other direction for you to take that you probably haven't already thought of. If you've spoken with health professionals, for whatever reason, I'll assume that one was a psychiatrist. Have you spoken with a neurologist? Had the MRI? Tried hypnosis?

You could try posting this over on our Depression Forum. Scroll through the other forums and post it wherever it might fit. The more people you can reach who may know what this is, the better.

I hope someone responds with some real help. What you're experiencing may not be very common, but I strongly doubt you're some sort of psychiatric anomaly.  

I wish you the best and hope you'll let me know what you learn.
Avatar universal
I have something smiler. I usually get short 3 to 4 second bursts of an intense feeling of hopelessness it can be so intense that it stops my in my tracks. I usually get one big wave followed by a few smaller bursts. there is never anything specific that brings it on but for a few moments I get the feeling that nothing is or will ever be OK. I have noticed that I get these feelings in the morning and they are common when I sleep in an unfamiliar place. They also seem to be brought about by the cold. One of my friends said it may be do to a vitamin b deficiency, although my research has gotten me thinking that they may be simple partial seizures of the psychological variation. I have been trying to figure out what these were for a long time. They were definitely more frequent when I was a kid. I'm curious to know if you ever found any more answers to this. Its been a difficult one to research. If what your describing is the same as what I'm felling then your not alone.      
480448 tn?1426952138
Hello there!

You've posted on an older thread, so you won't get as much input (if you're looking for it).  You may want to start your own thread.  You can do so by clicking on the orange "post a question" button on the top right of the page.

I personally have not heard of such a symptom, but I think you're wise to look into it.  Have you seen a neurologist and ruled out seizure activity?  A focal seizure would be brief, and not display the typical tonic-clonic motions of seizure activity seen with something like epilepsy, so that may be an angle.

The other thing I would look into would maybe be bipolar disorder.  That would be characterized by periods of highs and lows, and they usually are pretty marked in their presentation.  I would imagine that it could be possible for bipolar to present a litle differently, with these short bursts of depression, rather than a longer epsiode, especially if someone was a rapid cycler.

Keep looking into it, and definitely let us know if you find any answers!

Feel free to post on our depression forum as well:

Avatar universal
I had short waves of depression lasing a minute or two. I remember feeling "everyone hates me, the world is horrible" and it was very intense. Then gone again. I remember dragging myself in to mum to tell her that "i was having that 'dumb' feeling again." She would brush it off (too hard basket).

Well it wasn't something i remember happening as a teen, but was abusing alcohol and drugs at that point, so may have been masking or hiding those waves of hopelessness. THen, fast forward to my second child. D-MER hits! Dysmorphic milk ejection reflex. THe same hopeless feeling but linked to the 'let down' of milk immediately prior to breastfeeding. Each time the baby is about to drink, milk is let down and begins to flow, well about a minute before, i would get the wave of sadness, sometimes with a touch of nausea (for added effect ;-))

So, questions! Why is this so rare? DMer is quite widely known now and has a large fb group. THe group has raised awareness significantly, but nothing on the short bursts of depressed feeling in kids. I suspect i was only 8 or 9. Everything i google talks about the typical depression that lasts a few days at least. So, I am going to guess there are millions of us out there, yet it has been brushed aside as "not real" because not enough of us managed to get together and compare feelings! Yay for social media!

WHat is this?
480448 tn?1426952138
Very interesting info, thanks for sharing it.

Obviously, the D-MER theory isn't likely for the folks who experienced the symptoms when they weren't lactating.  D-MER is directly related to lactation.  

It's always tough to have vague, uncommon symptoms of something....you don't want to always chalk the symptoms up to a psychological source, but finding a physical cause is tough too.
Avatar universal
I have this too. I have experienced it since I was a child. I could always tell when it was going to happen.. Well atleast right before. And it lasts about one to two minutes and then it is over. It happens to me after I eat to the point of being super full (but not every time) then sometime after that I will "feel it". It's hard to explain. I tell people I feel depressed after eating... But they assume that it is mental, from eating too much food! But it's not... I'm slim and don't feel guilty about eating to much. It is good to know I am not alone! I haven't found anything online relating to this. I have always assumed it was an additive in certain foods that triggered a mental reaction. But I'm not sure!
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370181 tn?1428180348
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