I'm new here, and I hope no one minds, I don't have much to offer but much to ask. First, let me be honest that I will be seeing a doctor tomorrow, and will be discussing all of this with that person. But I'd like a diversity of opinions, from people who may have been through this.
I live in New England, USA
I am female, 26
I'm a graduate student, under stress
Depression/bipolar/anxiety run in my family
I am on hormonal birth control (NuvaRing)
I was sick with a virus for most of September and October
Ok, I'll try to be brief. This past 1.5 years I have been under a huge amount of situational stress related to work. Last winter and spring I suffered from situationally induced depression related to work, and also correlated with work I had a major break down/burn out in May. Crying, feeling very depressed, panicked, etc. After that I took a long vacation. I began running, meditating, sleeping well. I haven't felt 100%, but maybe 80%, though a bit fragile. But I keep having these short, very intense depressive events/breakdowns. Since the first one in May I've had three such breakdown episodes, one was 5 days after I started birth control, and one more recently when I lost my birth control (it is a vaginal ring and it broke and fell out) and then started it again. The other was not correlated with birth control.
Durring a depressive phase, acute feeling of depression can last a week. They occur or grow much worse in the evening, and are associated with trouble sleeping and anxiety. It usually starts with some low level agitation, caped off with one very bad day or night, which brings down the next few days that follow. After one of these cycles I'll "pop out" of it. I'll have three to four good weeks, but with a sort of nagging sense of fragility. Then if I notice I am starting to get down, I'll begin to worry or fret over if it is another down spell, and that'll start the whole process off again. The last bout was several days ago, several hours after I replaced my birth control I began to feel irritable, it spiraled and went down to one of the darkest, and most frightening nights I've ever experienced. Particularly because I was so low I wasn't even frightened, just ready to be done.
My question: Last winter and spring, I would have called myself depressed. And it was only because I was so stressed and busy and depressed that I didn't seek treatment (lack of motivation and not enough time). Now, I have these very intense bouts of sadness and anxiety that interrupt otherwise good recovery. Is this depression? Could it be correlated with birth control?
I guess I always imagined depression as being something that lasted, without break, for several weeks or months. This lasts a short time (a day to a week), but is terribly debilitatingly intense. Otherwise I feel OK, but I just don't seem to have enough time in between these episodes to get to 100%. Like I'm solid, but made of something a little less strong that I was before. A little more fragile than before.
Anyway, if anyone has experience with this, and thought, I'd be hugely grateful.