Getting laid off, downsized, or just plain losing your job is a major concern for many, many thousands of workers worldwide in these dark days of 2009. Seasoned employees with years of experience and wisdom are finding their jobs pulled out from under them as companies slash workforces or go bankrupt. The worst part is, there are precious few new jobs to find, new employment doors to knock on. That can mean stressful times for an out-of-work person and their family.
Unemployment depression is an increasingly frequent result. Think about how much is tied up in a person’s job. It brings home the bacon, providing a roof over the family head and a chicken in the pot. Doing a job well is a source of fulfillment and pride. The workplace gives social contact, security, and a place to go on Monday morning. Losing all of this can be a terrible blow to a person’s ego and sense of self-worth, as well as a financial hardship. All too often this emotional blindside is completely unexpected, making it even worse.
Recognizing job loss depression is the first step to getting rid of it. It’s entirely natural to feel shaken, upset, and at a loss of what to do when you find yourself out of work. If these feelings come on with much more force than expected, that is when they can wreak havoc. Look for these signs:
Spending long hours sleeping or in bed, or not sleeping at all
Overeating, drinking, substance abuse, or not eating
Inability to concentrate
Inappropriate mood swings – crying, irritability, anger, fear, picking fights with your spouse or children
The urge to cave – stay at home, see nobody, do nothing
The feeling of helplessness, like nothing can be done to better the situation
What You Can Do
These feelings can be turned around. Think of depression as a severe energy loss, where you lack the vitality to even have good feelings and useful thoughts occur to you. Anything you do to boost your energy level will give you the impetus to do more to help yourself.
Eating well, drinking water, and getting some sunshine and exercise are a good start. Going to bed and getting up at normal times will help. Writing down on paper why you lost your job (chances are great it had nothing to do with you personally) and what you have to offer your next employer can boost your confidence. Looking through want ads and making a phone call or two breaks the passivity of depression and gives you a sense of control again. Recognizing angry or depressive mood swings and not taking them out on friends and family – better yet, talking to them about it – goes a long way to minimizing their power over you.
Help is available if the effects of job loss get out of control. Your doctor’s advice and direction can be invaluable. Therapists are doing a brisk business in these times; use them, they know how to help. Talking to friends and family, developing a support group, and even engaging in Internet chats and forums gets your feelings out in the open, where they look a lot smaller.
Losing your job in these dark times can be nasty, but it needn’t be personally devastating. Recognize unemployment depression if it arises, talk about it, and do something – anything – to shake it off. The light is not as far away as it seems.