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Emotional Effects of Job Loss

By HERWriter
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Losing a job is hard financially, but not everyone realizes that job loss can affect some people psychologically.

Since the great recession, a term confirmed recently by the Associated Press, began in Dec. 2007, many people have become unemployed or are struggling financially. People with stress associated with losing a job and not having enough money to pay for daily necessities are likely to have psychological effects.

The most common psychological problems associated with unemployment are anxiety and depression, but somatization disorder also seems to be a psychological problem caused by job loss, according to a study.

Some common depression symptoms are feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, guilt, fatigue, insomnia and restlessness, according to EmpowHER. Some symptoms of anxiety include worrying, obsessive thoughts, fear, panic, impatience, concentration problems, rapid or irregular heartbeat and nausea.

An article on Discovery Health stated that one woman lost weight, overslept, had fatigue and a mild form of depression due to her job loss. This is only one example of where mental and physical health can become negatively interrelated due to unemployment. Fortunately, this woman’s depression went away after a couple of weeks and she resumed working within months of her unemployment. She had emotional resiliency that helped her in this process.

The Discovery Health article also gave tips on how to overcome emotions related to unemployment. They include writing down your feelings, finding ways to boost your self-esteem (like writing a list of what you do well and asking for letters of recommendation), reflecting on what you learned from your job loss and practicing understanding difficult people and situations.

Other factors to consider relating to unemployment and mental health are drug and alcohol abuse. Because of the depressed and stressed feelings people can have during difficult financial times, there is an increased chance for detrimental behavior, which is suggested in a CBS article.

One psychiatrist, Sudeepta Varma, said the following in the CBS article: "Spouses are fighting more often, people may turn to drugs or alcohol, smoking, overeating. Losing the job... isn't so much the problem, but the anxiety and the depression and the substance abuse [that can follow]... are often extremely more damaging than the job loss." Varma said suicide rates can also increase during an economic hardship.

Family and friends who know of a recently unemployed person should look for signs of behavior, physical and emotional changes and try to help the best they can. Making a person with psychological issues aware of help and love can only improve the situation.

If problems are more severe and the person does not learn to recover from the slump after losing a job, the unemployed person should see a mental health professional.


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EmpowHER Guest

Unfortunately, anxiety and depression often accompany the loss of a job. But some people can use this experience to propel themselves toward better things. Crafting a plan of action for your job search can create helpful parameters. In fact, a schedule can be both productive and soothing. Keep in mind that if you're unemployed because of a work related injury you can seek the help of a New York City personal injury lawyer.

July 30, 2010 - 4:49pm


This is a thoughtful and timely post. So many people are out of work and I think one of the primary losses is that of identity.

When we are used to having a job or a career and -- for whatever reason -- we lose that job or career, we lose a substantial part of our identity as well. And searching for a new job is almost tantamount to trying to get back that identity. Even a person who is trying to redefine themselves can go through a wobbly period of not knowing exactly who they are anymore. And the loss of that identity can cause a period of grief all by itself -- in addition to the worry over money.

Nice job, Rheyenne. Thanks for writing it.

February 24, 2010 - 9:48am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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