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Coping with Depression and Job Loss

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/13/2010

If you've recently lost your job, you may be struggling with coping with depression and job loss. Because people tend to identify with their work, job loss can often lead to depression. Learn ways to cope with losing your job and the depression that may ensue in this helpful Bright Hub article.

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    From Job Loss to Depression

    How can you go about coping with depression and job loss? 

    Sometimes, when you lose your job, you lose a piece of yourself. Not only does job loss take a toll on your ego, but it can deliver a huge blow to other aspects of your life. Your routine will change, you may lose touch with those you worked with. Sometimes losing your job comes hand in hand with other extremely devastating events in your life. Whatever the situation when job loss occurs, it is a devastating blow - even if you didn't like the job in the first place. It may take some time to find a new job, and this can lead to feelings of depression. When you get to this point, it can be extremely difficult to move forward.

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    Grief Over Job Loss or Full-On Depression?

    When you lose your job, some feelings of sadness and grief are normal. A person's job often makes up a good part of their identity. It is important, though to understand the difference between grief and sadness that is normal and depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), signs and symptoms of depression include (direct quote):

    • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
    • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
    • Irritabilty, restlessness
    • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
    • Fatigue and decreased energy
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
    • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
    • Overeating, or appetite loss
    • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
    • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment

    If you have any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment to discuss them with your physician. If you feel suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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    Coping with Depression and Job Loss - Strategies to Help

    There are a variety of things you can do that will help you to cope with depression associated with job loss. Here's a list of ways that you can combat depression associated with job loss:

    1. See the glass as half-full. Yes, you lost your job and that can be hard, but take at a look at it another way: You can view your job loss as an opportunity. Rememebr all those things you wanted to do when you had time? Now's the time. If you've been considering going back to school, this can be your opportunity.
    2. Don't make it all about finding a job. Yes, a good portion of your time should be spent looking for a job, but depending on the size of your emergency fund, you can catch up on friendships, family relationships, and self-improvement opportunities while unemployed.
    3. Stay active. Whatever you do, do not stay at home all day every day. Get out at least once a day. Even if you're not feeling motivated, leave your house. You will feel better when you do.
    4. Don't disappear from others' radars. Keep in touch with former coworkers, your friends, and new aquaintances. By keeping on others' minds, you'll be on their minds. You never know when a new opportunity will come from someone you know - and by staying in touch with others, you will feel better.
    5. Mind your health. Don't neglect yourself during this time. In fact, you have a lot of free time now to take care of those things you never had time to do - start an exercise routine, go dancing, have fun!
    6. Come to terms with why you were fired. Sometimes it's hard to be honest with ourselves, but when we are, we can learn from the experience. By coming to terms with why you were fired, you can analyze what you can do in the future to prevent this.
    7. Stay on top of finances. Make sure you file for benefits. Come up with a budget. By running your finances into the ground, things will only get worse.
    8. Keep a routine, whatever that means for you. For some people it will mean a formal schedule, for others it will mean an informal schedule and a to-do list. Whatever works for you, make sure that you are making the best use of your time.
    9. Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help if you need it. Everybody needs help sometimes. If you need money, food, or emotional support, don't be afraid to ask for it. Luckily, there are many resources out there to help, if you know where to find them. Should you need emergency help, you can search the internet for services. Every town has some means of helping you with food, money, electricity, and housing should it come to that.
    10. Finally, things are often not as bad as we think they are. Put your situation into perspective by focusing on what you have, not what you don't have.