What Is Unemployment doing to Your Mental Health?

February 24, 2017

Unemployment is not only an economic issue, but it also menaces the psychology realm with its sharp fangs. People who have been outside the job market for more than half a year can start feeling the unseen effects of their situation. Let’s take a closer look at what really happens with your mental health during unemployment.

1. The Thought of Unemployment Raises More Concerns than Ever

When people are working a full-time job, they would usually look with some envy at people that have no professional responsibilities. They can be right at a first glimpse. There are no deadlines, and no authorities to order how to structure your day and how to perform your tasks.

However, the impact of losing one’s job goes deeper than this. The source of income that ensures your independence is gone. Not only that but your daily routine and work relationships also come to a halt. Even though not everybody enjoys the daily work that they are compelled to within an office, it is a solid structure that brings order and stability into a world of chaos.

All these worries are leading to immeasurable stress which has some serious side effects, among which we can name lack of motivation or focus, irritability, restlessness or overwhelming feelings. However, your mindset can even display physical repercussions, as a high level of stress can induce even headaches, stomach upset or sleeping problems.

2.  Loss of Self-Esteem

Many psychologists are of the opinion that unemployment shatters the very fabric of society. The social contract, even though fictional, is inscribed in the mind of each citizen. Organized society exists, in theory, to offer people protection and welfare. So, it is natural for unemployed people to feel like they lost their place in their community when they start living their daily routine without a professional purpose.

Moreover, researchers have identified a correlation between unemployment and schizophrenia. Should you be worried? Is schizophrenia hereditary? The short answer is “No”. It only occurs in around 10% of individuals who have a first-degree relative with the disorder. A feeling of uselessness can appear due to the fact that unemployed people have no longer control over their life. They have no financial means to support the lifestyle of their choice. The consequences of this psychological state are ampler if they have to provide for their family.

3. The Mental Well-Being Parallel Between Employees and Unemployed

Gallup company has carried a survey, and their findings are impressive. There were more than 356,000 participants in this research that were both employees and unemployed. While only 5.6% of people with full-time jobs are seeking professional help for depression, the unemployed ones scored a percentage in this direction of 12.4%. Consequently, people without a job feel the need to tend the shock they also felt, besides trying to enter the job market again.

The research advanced more than this point and measured the side effects on unemployment on the likelihood of landing a new job. The longer people stay in this condition, the lesser hope they have to solve their problem. This drop in optimism can damage your motivation, and it might force you to give up on job hunting altogether.

4. Unemployment Promotes Depression

There are several symptoms that The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual have identified as a representative for a depressive episode. Five of them that persist for a space of time of more than two weeks are enough to diagnose someone with depression.

These symptoms are: a bad mood almost every day and most of the day; reduced interest or pleasure in things that used to present a passion for the patients or everyday activities; a visible weight loss (which can start with 5% of body mass in a month) even though the subjects are not dieting, or they are not planning to gain weight; complete change of appetite and insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day; loss of energy nearly each day; feelings of guilt which don’t have real reasons to support them; diminished power of concentration or indecisiveness almost every day; recurrent thoughts in regard with ending one’s life.

Unfortunately, many unemployed people fit the depression definition. It was also discovered that lingering too much time in this state can make the above side effects last for a lifetime, no matter if people receive a job later on or not. Another study regarding this professional status found that 20% of the unemployed participants had mental health disorders. As far as the ones that already had a diagnosed mental illness at the point of their solicited and unsolicited resignation, the shock of losing their jobs amplified their state of mind.

Some people try to cope with a loss of job by being busy through activities like talking with friends and family, hobbies, chores or eating. However, these coping skills had short term effects. What really worked though for many are constructive and compassionate tasks such as helping the community, themselves, or mending their home. If the skills of the unemployed have become redundant over time, joining a good community college seems to be a good start over.

5. Unemployment and Family Relationships

According to Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, unemployment does not inflict stress only to the persons who suffered the loss of a job but also to their families. Furthermore, those persons with high self-esteem received the support they needed from their loved ones, while the ones with a general low self-worth didn’t find compassion they needed from their family. However, it is normal for families to face occasional slumps, and the members can improve familial relationships through communication first and foremost.  

This chain reaction can exert some side effects on the attempts of finding jobs again. By alienating from the family circles, unemployed people have slimmer chances to solve their situation. This is because networking is still the best solution to finding a job. More and more people are receiving appealing job offers when they attend an event, or their friends and professional connections contact them in the first place. However, research shows that unemployed men visit their physicians, take more medication, and spend more days in bed, unlike employees. This kind of lifestyle can hinder the chances of meeting new influential people or seizing the opportunity of a great job opening.

All in all, unemployment triggers many side effects that can alter your mental health. This is why it is important to find something meaningful to do while searching for a new job and be open about your experience with your friends and family.

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