Unemployment Depression: Symptoms And How To Deal With It

Unemployment depression caused by the global recession which is brought about by the increased layoffs of workers is now of utmost concern. Not only is your normal stream of income lost as you lose your career, but also your intimate professional relationships, everyday routines, and a major sense of self-purpose.

Job is a cornerstone of human life and is quite significant. If this foundation falls and unemployment settles in its place, there is a significant increase in the likelihood of succumbing to a psychiatric disorder such as depression.

Unemployment is and sometimes is, a blow to the whole body system. You will endure all of the same emotions and worries you would encounter if you were severely hurt, separated or grieving a loved one’s death. You can go through any or all of the mourning phases much as you would for any other big loss.

There are a whole lot of reasons that can lead to depression for an unemployed person. However, the symptoms are often not identified or acknowledged.

Unemployment Depression Symptoms

Depression affects 6 million people per year according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Yet, the depression that most people feel remains undiagnosed because they feel they can handle it by themselves. As a result, they are far less inclined to receive treatment.

Watching out for these unemployment depression symptoms will be very helpful:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

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  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts.

How To Deal With Unemployment Depression

If the emotional consequences of long-term unemployment depression take a toll, then there are techniques you may use to break the loop and stop unemployment depression.

If you’re unemployed and feel really sad, try out these seven strategies to help you cope with the unemployment depression:

  • Exercise Regularly

Unemployment is both frustrating and appalling. Exercise relieves stress and it’s a proven mood-booster due to the endorphin rush it creates. Physical exercise is of an immense benefit to your mental health. It is the most effective antidepressant. Exercising will help you feel better and stronger.

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  • Maintain Your Daily Routine

You miss a lot of the order of your life when you’re unemployed. Do not sleep over time when you know that you are meant to be awake and engaged. Spending extra time on the bed will contribute to self-pity and more depression.

The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Instead, take your bath and get dressed first thing every morning, eat your breakfast, and read some books related to your job in particular. Keep alive as much of your job practices as possible. Keep your life organized and planned. Your life might become unpredictable and unstable if you let it go.

  • Socialize More And Open Up

After unemployment has damaged your pride, it’s natural not to want to socialize, but because you never know where the next job opportunity could come from, being openminded to people regarding your employment condition is in your best interest.

socialize to avoid unemployment depression

Don’t hold a secret about losing your work. Listen and take advantage of the advice people give you unless it’s idiotic or crazy. Avoid negative people, surround yourself with positive ones and your life will take a new shape.

  • Join a Support Group

Once you’re in a group with other smart, eminently qualified men, you know a layoff won’t be exactly as bad as it ought to be. This is not that you have done anything wrong. You were only a victim of circumstance.

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Networking and support groups for the unemployed will relieve your depression and improve your self-esteem. Listening to other members in the support group will help keep your condition in perspective.

  • Your Must Persevere

You’ve got to understand what it does to the mind when you are going through unemployment depression. Depression deflects your judgment. You can no longer depend on your own judgment. You can not confide in your intuition. You can’t have confidence in your feelings.

In other words, your mind can lead you to see no other employment opportunity. Therefore, you have to do the opposite of what you feel like doing – you have to persevere. A part of dealing with unemployment depression involves pushing yourself to do what’s necessary.

  • Get Professional Help

Don’t hesitate to seek help, before you get seriously depressed. The minute that you feel that you are slipping into a pit of despair, call somebody. The more you venture into these depressed feelings, the tougher it is to come out of them.

However, the problem for unemployed individuals is that they might not be eligible to get medical help should they need it, since they no longer have health insurance. Perhaps, because this is the first time in their life they are experiencing unemployment depression, they don’t know how to cope with it, or where to go for support.

However, some non-profit mental health facilities and county mental health organizations may provide counselling services free of charge or at a discounted rate.

  • Be Active and Get Busy

Everybody wants to feel useful; it is just human nature. It’s also why self-esteem is always linked to our work and family life — and why unemployment depression is prevalent. When other people come to us for guidance and support we feel respected.

Take this idea, and continue to support others. Volunteering for local events and causes has the potential to show leadership and build communication skills. Look for local charitable projects in your region, such as non-profits; support from volunteers is often needed.

Top 10 Tips To Handle Unemployment Depression

Below are a few things you should do if you suspect you’re suffering from unemployment depression:

  1. Tell someone. A burden shared is a burden halved.
  2. Make taking a walk the very first thing you do each day. Exercise makes you feel better.
  3. Eat well and check out some depression-related diets (Sugar is not your friend nor is emotional eating)
  4. Breathe more slowly. Shallow breathing makes you feel uptight.
  5. Learn to meditate: 15 minutes/day will do wonders in a couple of weeks.
  6. Visit the local health food store and pick up St. John’s Wort. Talk with them about depression-related supplements.
  7. Make real routines out of your job hunting efforts. Become your own boss and manage the job hunt like a business
  8. Measure some of the things you do. Being able to look at a chart that indicates your accomplishment helps with the feelings of worthlessness
  9. Tell someone around you how much you appreciate them. Every day.
  10. If you try some of these things and get no reprieve, call your local mental health department. Depression is a serious thing.

The increased risk of depression for people who are unemployed is due to more than just financial hardship, a new study from the Australian National University (ANU) has found.

The study, conducted by Dr Laura Crowe as part of her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, found the lack of social support and a low sense of control over life contributes just as much as the financial factors to an increased risk of depression for the unemployed.

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Dr Crowe said while the relationship between poorer mental health outcomes and unemployment is well known, her research looked at what aspects of unemployment can explain that relationship.

“We were looking at three key factors – financial hardship, a lack of social support, and a low sense of control over one’s circumstances,” Dr Crowe said.

“We found that each of the factors partially contributed to the relationship between unemployment and depression.”

Dr Crowe said someone who is unemployed is up to twice as likely to experience depression, and that policy makers need to take a closer look at the social and economic issues that play a role in mental health.

“Understanding the role of social and economic factors is really important,” she said.

relationship between unemployment and depression

“We tend to make the unemployment experience as unpleasant as possible so that people try to find work”.

“But if we make it harder in terms of access to financial and social resources, then people might end up with poorer mental health which is another obstacle in trying to find work. It’s counterproductive.”

The study also looked at the same links for people who are under-employed and found for these people, financial hardship was the only factor linked to an increase in depression.

“Maybe there is some social support and sense of control over your life that you get even from inadequate employment,” she said.

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The study looked at group participants and tracked their progress over time starting from ages 20-24. The group is now aged 28-32.

How Does Unemployment Depression Affect Mental Health?

There are many ways that unemployment depression may contribute to a decline in mental wellbeing:

  • Reduced Standard of living

The lack of income arising from unemployment may contribute to a reduction in the person or household’s standard of living. It, in effect, may have mental health consequences. Economic cuts could cause the unemployed to significantly lower their quality of living and, of course, could impact both the physical and mental wellbeing of the unemployed.

The extent to which living standards decline depends on factors such as the assets of the unemployed person, the available unemployment benefits, other household member’s income and assets, and the duration of the unemployment.

  • Loss Of Social Relationships

The lack of a career usually involves a lack of communication with friends at work and a decrease in social networks. The lack of commitment and economic capital will contribute to a decrease in personal health. The scale of these possibly mental health consequences of unemployment can differ with age and gender.

The effect of unemployment depression on mental well-being may also differ with the length of the unemployment. Multiple hypotheses remain on how that may occur. Some also claimed that the unemployment depression is more severe at the moment it happens, eventually subsiding with time.

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Meanwhile, some also found out that, with time, the humiliation, social alienation and (in certain cases) material hardship linked with unemployment would undoubtedly be greater.

  • Income Insecurity

Even if there is no material shortage, being unemployed may contribute to uncertainty about the duration of the lack of income and the possibility of a potential decrease of living standards.

This fear is linked to the likelihood that unemployment will create the impression that life is not under one’s control. Of course, to some extent, working employees, especially temporary workers, can feel insecure.

  • Loss Of Self-esteem

Becoming unemployed will contribute to a loss in popularity among friends and families, and in the broader community. Which can result in humiliation and a loss of self-esteem.

There is plenty of data to show that being unemployed has a detrimental effect on mental well-being. Given that financial limitations are among the paths from unemployment to mental health issues, sufficient exposure to and rate of occupational insurance coverage will help to minimize the occurrence of mental health concerns among the unemployed and thereby promote re-employment.

How High Will Unemployment Go In This Period Of Unemployment Great Depression?

In March, the U.S. unemployment rate rose from a half-century low of 3.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent – and is expected to go much higher. But will the pace, as some expect, surpass the 25 per cent unemployment that the U.S. witnessed during the Unemployment Great Depression peak?

In addition, there are two measures used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to estimate U.S. job rates. The first one is the unemployment rate, which results from the Current Population Survey. To achieve an approximation of the amount, the U.S. Census Bureau calls around 60,000 randomly chosen households per month.

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The other is an estimation of the amount of non-farm workers lost or generated during the month. Such statistics were provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics by examining more than 140,000 commercial companies, charities and numerous state and local agencies how many workers were on their payroll at that point during the week of the 12th month.

The latest figures indicate that, in March, the economy shed 701,000 workers.

However, those are very early estimates of the coronavirus effect. It’ll get even worse before it gets any better. In the last month, about 22 million workers have pursued employment benefits – out of a total population of about 160 million.

As of 1933, only annual labour market statistics were calculated by the US. It was not until 1948 that more accurate monthly data started. Since then, as a consequence of the Federal Reserve raising funding rates to combat inflation, the highest monthly unemployment rate ever reported was 10.8 per cent in December 1982.

When unemployment hits 25 per cent in the U.S, their economy will not suffer alone. In reality, 22 nations, including South Africa and Kenya, faced peak unemployment levels above 25 per cent prior to the pandemic, according to the CIA, which monitors statistics such as this since high unemployment often contributes to social unrest and breakdown of government.

With policymakers continuing to operate on bailout and stimulus programs intended to alleviate the economic effects of the pandemic, it is difficult to truly predict how high unemployment would lead. Such actions will keep the worst from occurring.

However, in my opinion, I do think it would be short-lived, no matter what. The economy will recover as life returns to normal, inevitably, and our pent-up appetite to eat out, buy and invest.

Effects Of Long-Term Unemployment Depression

Long-term unemployment depression also contributes to mental health disorders that can often become life-threatening. “The more Americans become unemployed, the more likely they are to show symptoms of impaired psychological well-being,” according to a 2013 Gallup survey.

Psychologists have long recognized the association between unemployment and psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, decreased self-esteem and abuse of drugs or drug addiction.

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The cause isn’t always clear though. Mental health problems can arise from long-term unemployment, result in long-term unemployment or the two can occur simultaneously. Those experiencing depression are more inclined to skip work, losing an estimated whopping sum of $23 billion per annum for the employers. For this cause, employers can opt to terminate an individual’s employment whose mental condition in the workforce is hindering them.

Effects Of Long Term Unemployment Depression

Nevertheless, researchers Anne Case and Angus Deaton noticed that “a shortage of stable, well-paying job without a college degree has caused misery, depression and social instability to mount up over time”. They noticed a rise in “suicides of despair” (or suicide-related deaths, alcohol-related illnesses, accidents, etc.) among whites aged 45-54. Each year between 1999 and 2013, the average mortality rate in this category rose by half a per cent.

This corresponds with the American working class decline, and is an abnormal pattern. In most countries, mortality rates typically fall over time for all groups. In addition, mortality rates for American adults with college degrees are declining as they are usually supposed to.

Allowing the continuation of long-term unemployment keeps the American economy from achieving its maximum capacity, as many long-term unemployed workers are not only eager but still eligible to function. The External relation from the Economic Policy Institute reported that long-term unemployment rates were high for citizens of all ages, educational levels, ethnic backgrounds and industries. This finding reveals that thousands of talented people that might actually be willing to contribute to the U.S. workforce are being forced away due to barriers to jobs and other broader, systemic problems that are beyond their reach of the American job market.

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The consequence of long-term unemployment depression often stretches far past the individual who feels it directly. One point to remember is that there is a whole network of people who struggle as a consequence with any person who is facing long-term unemployment depression. The family, the mother, the kids, these are kind of collateral victims – they are casualties of this almost as much as the job seeker.

Long-term unemployment depression disrupts life: it means dislocation, it means needing to sell houses, it means having to use the money that you should have earned for college education or savings for your family. It involves asking people who are closest to you for the money. So, there is certainly an effect beyond the unemployed individual.

Given the dynamic and persistent existence of long-term unemployment depression and the deep-rooted impact on its victims, cooperation between social workers, non-profit organizations, policy agencies, and the general population could be critical in eventually creating a major dent in America’s long-term unemployment.


  1. https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/dealing-unemployment-depression/
  2. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-08-explores-unemployment-depression-links.html
  3. https://www.iwh.on.ca/summaries/issue-briefing/unemployment-and-mental-health
  4. https://theconversation.com/how-high-will-unemployment-go-during-the-great-depression-1-in-4-americans-were-out-of-work-135508

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