How Job Loss Can Throw You Into Depression
Losing a job can have hugely negative effects on a person’s mental health. Being cut off from a steady stream of income and a peer group that you used to interact with daily can induce profound feelings of anxiety, self-pity and hopelessness. As one’s unemployment continues, a persistent state of depression can settle in, a debilitating disorder that may require prolonged treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Here are a few tips on how to stay mentally balanced after a losing a job.
Grieve for Your Old Job
As laid out in the early chapters of Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt’s Healing from Job Loss: 100 Practical Ideas, one has to process the loss of a job in the same way he processes any major life loss. Only by passing through the five stages of grief can we truly come to terms with the psychic trauma that comes with such a major life event and begin the healing process. There’s nothing wrong about feeling angry or sad regarding a job loss, and denying those feelings will only add to your stress level.
Take Care of Yourself
One of the biggest effects a job loss has on your personal life is that it abruptly changes your routine. No longer having a place to go at a certain time five days of the week can lead to the development of new, negative habits, such as maintaining an irregular sleep schedule, the increased intake of comfort foods with heavy fat and sugar contents and a less physically active lifestyle that can lead to unexpected weight gain. These lifestyle changes can actually make the symptoms of depression worse, so it’s advisable to prioritize self-care after a job loss. Wake up at the same time every day to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Get plenty of exercise to keep your endorphins flowing, and stick to a healthy diet that will promote good mental and physical health.
Make Job Hunting Your New Job
In the current post-recession economy, even the most skilled and experienced workers may find themselves out of work for long periods. To keep from falling into a depression, it is recommended that you fill the void in your schedule with job seeking activities. Fill out profiles with heavily trafficked employment websites like Monster and Indeed. Let your virtual and physical social networks know that you are job hunting. Fill out as many applications as you can. By creating and fulfilling daily to-do lists, you’ll keep yourself engaged and occupied while increasing your chances of landing a new job.
Seeing as joblessness has been linked to one-fifth of the suicides committed worldwide, it’s imperative to keep a positive mental outlook after losing a job. In addition to maintaining a high level of self-care, it’s important to keep a positive mindset. This means not isolating yourself from friends or loved ones because you feel like a failure. It also means abstaining from alcohol and recreational drugs as they are depressants. Also avoid listening to or watching depressing music, TV shows and movies. Consuming media that leaves you teary-eyed and hopeless isn’t helpful when trying to remain optimistic about the future.
Help is Available
If you find yourself falling into a depression, seek help. One cannot simply “shake off” clinical depression and attempting to do so will only perpetuate and worsen your condition. Here are some resources for unemployed people dealing with mental health issues:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please visit the NSPL website or call 1-800-273-8255.
- Community Mental Health Center, Inc.: This non-profit organization offers a host of resources; including substances abuse help, mental health counseling and job placement assistance.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This site contains links to numerous mental health programs, at both the state and national level and referral hotline.
- National Alliance on Mental Health: The NAMI has links to support groups, one-on-one help, as well as a hotline that is available Monday through Friday.
- MentalHealth.Gov: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has links a mental health treatment center locator.
- Mental Health America: MHA has a crisis helpline, links to support groups, therapists and in-patient facilities.