At a time of global economic downturn the risks of job loss increase almost daily. The way we deal with this can have profound implications on health and wellbeing. The older people get, the greater difficulty they tend to experience in adapting to change and finding new employment.
Depressive symptoms are one of the most common mental health issues associated with unemployment. It's hard enough to deal with the shock, despondency and sometimes anger that follows job loss and this is compounded by the fact that mouths still have to be fed and bills paid.
Significant life events often have ramifications. Some estimates suggest that 1 in 7 men will become depressed within 6 months of becoming unemployed. The risk for depression is higher in people who have previously experienced depression or who have a family history of depression. It's quite natural for mood to slump during such events and in cases of mild depression the person affected will probably find their mood lifting within a few weeks without medical intervention. Sometime however symptoms can drag on, or become more marked, that's when treatment may help.
Men especially are poor judges of their mental health, or they choose to ignore or not seek out medical help. They frequently don't relate physical or emotional changes with depression. For example, stomach aches, appetite changes, irritability, anxiety and poor sleep - including over sleeping (over 9 hours in 24).
Adapting to new circumstances isn't easy, but your attitude will be important. As one chapter finishes a new one starts, so an important step is to use the time to reajust your thinking, seek advice and investigate the options open to you. You'll find this easier if you can keep fit and healthy, so a daily 30 minutes of moderate exercise will help.
You may be lucky and find alternative employment quickly. If you don't, use the time productively. Prospective employers may be more impressed if you can demonstrate your job hunting has been just a part of your daily activity. Keep your CV up to scratch by, for example, offering your expertise and skills in a voluntary capacity. Consider a day or two of freelance work mixed with voluntary work. Work, in any capacity helps to protect us from mental health problems like depression, so if you can, stay involved.
Inflexible thinking can be the enemy after job loss. Not surprisingly your sense of self has been tied in to your job, but trying to find employment that is equal to or more than you did previously may not pay off. If it doesn't, the potential outcome is despondency. You try applying for lesser posts and find you're over-qualified or perceived as carrying too much baggage. The effect on you, not surprisingly, can be confidence shattering and possibly depressing. It's generally considered the more flexible and adaptable you are to change the easier it will be to cope and the greater your chances of finding employment.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists. Men & Depression. Available at: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/depression/mendepression.aspx. Accessed: April 14, 2011.
Warr PB, Jackson P, Banks M. Unemployment and Mental Health. Journal of Social Issues, (1988) 44, 47-68.
Published On: October 26, 2011