Unemployment and Depression
Whatever the reason for becoming unemployed, leaving your job can be stressful. Recent studies indicate a high percentage of individuals will develop a depressive illness within six months of becoming unemployed. In fact, after relationship difficulties, unemployment is the most likely thing to push someone into a bad depression. This isn’t surprising, since work is often a significant source of an individual’s sense of worth and self-esteem. When you lose your job you risk going from a position of feeling in control to facing an uncertain future and suffering from an eroded sense of self-confidence–especially if it takes a long time to find another job.
Frequently, depression first shows up in physical symptoms, such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and sexual dysfunction. When you’re suffering from depression, you and others close to you may notice some of the following changes in your overall affect:
You’re more irritable than usual and may lash out at those who try to offer help;
You’re worrying–even obsessing–about things more than usual;
You’re unusually quiet and seem unable to share what’s bothering you;
You’re sluggish, fatigued, and lack your usual interest in things you usually enjoy.
When you’re in the throes of depression, the shift from your usual way of acting and feeling can make it harder to get another job, putting into play a cycle of defeat and despair that makes your depression deepen. Instead of getting help for their symptoms of depression, too many too frequently try to make themselves feel better by “self medicating” with alcohol or drugs. This clearly makes things worse.
What Can You Do?
If you or someone you love has developed symptoms of unemployment depression here are some ways to combat it:
- Talk about how you feel. Find a way to express how you feel. If it’s to your significant other, to your loved ones, to your pastor, to your dog, through prayer or meditation or even through a blog or a journal. Get your feelings out. You will feel better. If you are comfortable with sharing your feelings with a stranger and have the means to foot the bill, consider finding a counselor or therapist to discuss your problems with.
- Stay active. Get involved in some community efforts, or if you joined a sorority or used to be active in a church group, become active again to rekindle pride and self worth. Staying productive will fight off the depression that comes with feeling like you’ve got no reason to get out of bed.
- Spend a lot of time with friends and family, people that love you. These people will serve as your cheerleaders and encouragers when you are down. It’s normal to want to push people away when you’re experiencing unemployment depression, but the people who love you the most will be the people who can cheer you up. And now that you’re not working, you can’t use being busy as an excuse.
- Apply for unemployment right away. Putting it off makes it worse. You will have a sense of having “done something” once you do and the money worries will ease slightly.
- Exercise. Exercise vigorously every day. Studies indicate that vigorous exercise is one of the best antidotes to depression.
- Treat your job search efforts as your new job. Schedule time each day to work on what you need to do to move your job search forward and do something each day. You will feel more productive as you keep your daily commitment.
Depression is a serious medical condition that affects your body, mood, and thoughts. Like any illness, depression requires treatment—the sooner the better. While it may take courage to reach out and ask for help, seeking professional treatment will bring the relief you deserve and that you need to get your life headed in a positive direction.
source: Find-a-Therapist.com Blog