desperate-couple-1-1581591Depression is a daily struggle that causes significant impairment in life, work, and relationships for those who experience it. It causes one to feel sad, empty, and hopeless for most of the day and decreases the joy and pleasure they once found in activities and hobbies. The feeling of worthlessness engulfs them and there is almost a complete loss of energy and ability to concentrate. Thoughts of death and suicidal ideation are common and often times the sadness felt manifests itself physically and people complain of body aches and pains. For some, sleep comes easily and getting out of bed is the difficult part, yet for others sleep rarely comes. There is often a change in appetite and some individuals have to force themselves to eat, while others may eat more and crave certain foods.

Yet what is not commonly well-known about depression is how irritability or anger is often times a symptom of the disorder as well. While some people curl up into a ball and pull the covers over their heads, some lash out in anger. Your loved one may begin to blame others and overreact to minor incidents, and for many there is a persistent anger and they will respond to events with an angry outburst. Deep sadness leaves people feeling hopeless, lost, and frankly, sometimes pretty furious.

Family, friends, and whoever is held closest to their hearts tend to get the brunt of the anger. But because depression is experienced differently, for everyone identifying this in a loved one and acting accordingly can be very challenging. While lashing out at those providing support and love sounds counterintuitive, it’s not. These are the people whose love is felt the most. They are less likely to leave their loved one feeling abandoned in their time of need. These are the relationships that provide strength, because even though they might not feel it, the love is there.

It’s not easy when you know one of your loved ones is struggling with depression and this is where having patience, giving love, and leaning on your faith comes in to play. It affects an entire system, not just one person. In the same way the Lord is with you even when you may not be aware of it, it’s important to be the rock for that person struggling even though they may not feel it. So when you begin to feel overwhelmed by the situation, remember that love can foster strength and fortitude not only for those receiving it but also for those giving it.

Show grace to your loved one even when they don’t show it back. Listen to them and try to understand they’re feeling just as awful about the situation as you are. Empathize and let them know you are there to help them regain their happiness and support them through the struggles. Help them to create a care plan that fits their needs. Provide options for support groups, therapists, and activities that may help them to combat the depression. And finally, understand that it is the depression that causes them to lash out and it is not done to intentionally hurt you or your family.

Madeline Stiers

Mental Health Coach

Hope and Healing Center & Institute