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Depression & Loss of a Job

The loss of a job can be among the most stressful and emotionally trying experiences. Workers who find themselves unemployed are more likely to experience depression, especially if they remain out of work for extended periods of time. But job loss-related depression is something you can often deal with on your own or take steps to avoid in the future.

Factors

There are several factors that can allow job loss to become a source of depression. Financial concerns can lead to stress and a sense of desperation, especially if a family's primary provider becomes unemployed. In addition, the search for a new job can prove discouraging with repeated rejections going a long way toward destroying a job seeker's self-confidence. Depression also comes from the disruption of routines since there are no longer job-related tasks to fill the day with productive activities. A perceived sense of shame in the eyes of one's friends and family can further contribute to depression from job loss.

Symptoms

There's a difference between feeling bad because of a job loss and suffering from depression because of it. Depression includes one or more characteristic symptoms and interferes with the sufferer's general physical and emotional well-being. Stress-related symptoms include lack of sleep or appetite and nervous gestures. Extended periods of sadness and an inability to engage with family members or enjoy pleasurable activities can point to depression. Over time, an unemployed individual's depression can manifest itself as a sense of hopelessness or a lack of motivation and daily energy.

Dealing With Depression

If you or someone you know suffers from depression because of a job loss, there are steps you can take to achieve some relief. Because some job-loss depression comes from the lack of a routine, you can reestablish a daily schedule that includes waking up at a reasonable time and spending a period of several hours looking for a new job. Other non-job related activities, such as volunteer work or spending more time with family, can also help contribute to a sense of purpose and usefulness. If nothing seems to help, you should contact a support group or mental health service. Some groups provide free counseling for depression.

Avoidance

If you still have your job, you can take steps to prepare yourself for the possible depression that job loss, or other life events, can bring. One way to avoid the sense of purposelessness that job loss brings is by establishing an individual identity outside your job. Workers who identify too highly with their jobs are more apt to feel lost when they no longer have those jobs. You can also practice responsible saving and spending to build up a financial safety net that will help cushion the economic impact of job loss. An emergency budget that allows your family to live on a single income or savings is a good idea so that you can implement it as soon as you lose your job.



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