Lost your job and feel depressed?
Losing a job today can undermine the very meaning of a person’s life. It is conventional to say encouraging and motivational mantras — and that’s great if you can find such words for yourself — then your mental health is coping with the demands of your new status. Today, at kiintsugii, we’re going to reflect on depression caused by job loss and what to do if you’re feeling down or afraid that your mental health gets worse and how to find your feet again.
Unemployment Fuels Worldwide Anxiety
Last year, journalist Katie Herzog wrote a commencement address for students who couldn’t attend their graduations because of the pandemic. She devoted her speech to failures. She told how life’s blows and unemployment kicked off her next life phase (not considerably happy, but the value does not decrease from this). After all, failures teach us a lot.
“Once, I had a friend call my boss and tell him that she couldn’t give him any details, but I would not be coming back to work. What seemed like a good idea at the time left me unable to cover my rent, so I ended up selling my own plasma.”
Katie’s sporadic work history can be considered a paradigmatic example of the career path of millions of people across the world. Such a precarious path, marked by precariousness and uncertainty, is followed by a significant number of the working-age population. In today’s world, the trend is that fewer people are engaged in medium-wage jobs. Such labour is often outsourced to developing countries. We see how the gap between the poor and the rich is growing.
On the whole, the middle class, whose sharp increase in household wealth in the middle of the 20th century was determined by the ideology of the postwar welfare states, now has found itself in a vulnerable position. Its incomes have been falling since the 1970s, and this decline is fastly accelerating in the digital era.
Recalling the 2008 crisis, high-income economies experienced high unemployment rates and a slow pace of job growth. Now, with the new wave of technology threatening to automate a wide range of existing jobs, more people will be pushed into job transitions or even joblessness.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer annual report, the level of trust held by 56% of the citizens across 28 countries are worried that companies will replace human workers with AI and robots, and 54% has seen their work hours reduced or their jobs eliminated. The results of such studies indicate increased worldwide anxiety and worsening depressive disorders associated with loss of employment.
Why Am I So Depressed After Losing My Job
Losing your job can make you depressed. Job loss is one of the many life setbacks that some people might never recover from for the rest of their lives. This is a severe trauma that can take years to heal. Perhaps, it is akin to the feeling of being rejected by society. And that hurts the most.
Losing your job means that your life loses its framework, especially the temporal structure (no more deadlines and work meetings) and connection with reality. This is reflected in the failure of rational planning for the future.
As David Graeber puts it,” We have become a civilization based on work—not even “productive work” but work as an end and meaning in itself”.
If a person doesn’t get support after being fired, their thinking switches to survival mode. Our neurophysiological processes start to revolve around such questions as, “Will I survive? Will I have enough food supplies for me and my family? What should I do to get back my safe life?”
This is a valuable point to bear in mind since most people today have a little social life outside of work. With losing their jobs, they also lose most of their social contacts.
Symptoms of Depression Caused by a Job Loss
The loss of employment for some of yesterday’s successful professionals is equivalent to a loss of self-esteem. This can cause the loss of a sense of identity. In response to the stressful situation, an individual may be at higher risk for developing depression.
Some of us would try to escape reality by finding wisdom in folding laundry in a particular way over and over again, baking Danish rye bread or infinite scrolling through our now bottomless Instagram feed. Escaping reality takes different forms; somehow, “I will work even harder” has become just as essential as “I want to lie down and do nothing.”
When mental health gets worse, an individual may have the following symptoms of depression:
- developing low self-esteem
- difficulties with adjusting to stress
- loss of interest in activities they used to fancy
- persistent sadness
- loss of interest in other people and events and refusal to participate in entertaining activities
- poor concentration
- hypersomnia or insomnia
- drug or alcohol abuse
- loss of appetite
- chronic constipation
- weakness and fatigue
- suicidal thoughts
- stomach pain
- chest or muscle pain
It’s not recommended to diagnose depression on your own not to confuse the symptoms with another medical condition. If you notice any of them, we recommend that you see your physician or mental health professional.
How to Get Over Job Loss Depression
Cut yourself some slack
Before you start a new life, you need to learn how to deal with your fear and confusion, learn to accept a unique situation without condemning yourself to solitude and self-reproach. Not everything in this world depends on you — very often, it turns out to be force majeure clauses or global economic trends. Yeah, we are no match for these occurrences. It’s fair to assume that many of us can’t recover from a breakdown quickly.
Keep in touch with your family and friends. Talk to them, a lot
People who have lost their jobs sometimes tend to stop all communication with their friends and acquaintances, plagued by shame. However, maintaining social contacts and articulating your feelings may serve as an entry point to recovery and bouncing back.
We are social creatures; we need connections to develop and survive. Find a community of like-minded people, sign up for a training session, meet with your friends.
Change your perspective
Identifying with your career is not necessarily bad but identifying only with your job is risky. Remember what made you feel better in the days when you haven’t joined the workforce yet. You’ve come a long way since then. Even in complicated cases where you’re about to give up on everything, take the time to appreciate your educational background. You’re likely to have a solid work history, and even when you don’t think that’s the case, it’s too early to know how the situation will eventually benefit you in the long term.
Take one step at a time
Break down big tasks into small ones. For example, you can set up your job search routine by mapping out all the paper steps and consistently following them. Don’t focus on the big goal of landing a job – sometimes, the very idea of chasing something may be tiring. Save your strength until the time you’re ready for massive actions.
Try to find other things to do to calm your nerves and reconnect with yourself again.
Manual labour heals
According to the testimony of some early monks and hermits in the Middle Ages, manual work helped to cope with acedia or apathy. A hermit tormented by the acedia had to fight his condition by burning the baskets he would make with palm leaves. Once the basked were burned, he would commence weaving new ones. Sisyphean labour helped him to pull himself together. We don’t want you to burn your arts and crafts to make new ones. This example was meant to show how leisure-time physical activity can stop ruminating thoughts.
Take daily walks
It’s simple — when you move, your brain builds new neural connections. When you interact with the outside world for a while, it triggers changes improving your neuroplasticity. On the contrary, staying indoors for too long causes blood pressure issues and diabetes.
Consider including morning strolls in your daily schedule and see how your anxiety will subside.
Take out the negative thoughts
Sometimes the rage and resentment are so intense that holding them back itself is fraught with consequences for mental health. The best solution can be journaling. Not only will you be able to pour out your negative thoughts but also track changes in your health. Remember to write down something good every day that you are grateful for in your life. This will help your brain shift the focus to the positive and train your memory.
Article by Lydia Zhigmitova
Graeber, D. (2018). Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, 21.