When Your Job Loss Brings You Down

african american man with his head down appearing upset(BlackDoctor.org) — November’s unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent, up from 9.7 percent in October. However, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is nearly double that rate, at just under 17 percent, the highest of any ethnic group in the country, based on recent reports.

While many may speculate why this number remains so high, the fact of the matter is that regardless of race, if you are one of the 15 million Americans who are unemployed, it matters not what the obstacle is. Losing your job can be a traumatic and unsettling event, especially in tough economic times when the prospect of finding new work seems slim.

With unemployment rates rising and stories about layoffs, downsizing, and cutbacks in the news every day, the stress from losing a job may build to the point where your mental health suffers and you experience depression.

A job loss means a major change in your daily routine, losing contact with people from work, and perhaps a change in how you see yourself. For some people, losing a job may be as devastating as losing a loved one or going through a divorce, and you might even experience the same type of feelings, including anger, denial, and depression. Depression can be the result of many contributing factors that can sometimes be difficult to distinguish, but if you are unemployed and living with financial insecurity, your situation may be serious enough to bring about depression.

Research has shown that job loss may be related to depression not only because of the financial burden it brings, but also because it affects your social status, self-esteem, mental and physical activity, and the ability to use your skills. How well a job loss is handled depends on many factors: age, financial situation, your ability to deal with stress, and any emotional disorders you might already have. Here are ways to help you cope, as well as what to do if you can no longer cope on your own.

8 Ideas for Coping With Job Loss and Avoiding Depression

  1.     Be realistic. Come to terms with why you lost your job. If you need to improve your skills to find a  better job, now’s the perfect time to get that training.
  2.     Manage your money. If you have the right to certain benefits, claim them as soon as you can to avoid getting behind financially. Make a plan for you and your family to reduce daily expenses.
  3.     Create a daily routine. Make a schedule of what you hope to accomplish each day, so that you maintain a regular routine. Include time for your job search, as well as exercise and leisure. Plan for the next day before you go to bed at night.
  4.     Get emotional support. Family, friends, and support groups can help you deal with the job loss. Speaking to people — networking — may help you find a new job.
  5.     Learn how to manage stress. Read a book or take a workshop. Meditate, visualize, and be patient by taking one step at a time.
  6.     Set everyday goals for yourself. Just going to the library or having lunch with a friend can help you build your confidence, maintain relationships, and stay healthy.
  7.     Don’t isolate yourself. Make sure to stay busy outside of your home to avoid added emotional stress.
  8.     Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Limit your smoking and your alcohol and caffeine intake. A regular schedule, eating well, and exercise will keep you fit for the next job.

Getting Professional Help for Depression

If the above strategies don’t help and your problems feel overwhelming, speak to your doctor about depression treatment. He or she may suggest management strategies, such as taking medication and/or talking to a mental health specialist (a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker). Here are some issues you may want to bring up at a meeting with a mental health professional:

  •     What do you think causes stress in your life? Include long-term and short-term stressors.
  •     How are your family and yourself affected by this stress?
  •     Do you have support available to help get through your situation, or make a positive impact on your life?
  •     Are there obstacles preventing you from reducing the stress?
  •     Are you willing to make major changes to reduce the stressful situation?
  •     Have you tried without success to resolve your situation?
  •     Can you accept this current situation and get on with your life?

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6 Tips For Dating With Depression

african american woman receiving a bouquet of flowers from an african american man(BlackDoctor.org) — Depression is a common illness that most of us will deal with at some point in our lives. About 19 million Americans suffer from depression and 92% of African-Americans (suffering from depression) do not undergo any treatment for the condition. This can pose a problem for many areas of life — especially relationships. But depression doesn’t have to be a deal breaker in dating.

One thing to remember about dating is that all people have some kind of baggage they bring along for the ride. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If the person and the relationship are right for you, the difficulties encountered can be overcome. These 6 simple tips can help make dating a bit easier.

Don’t tell on the first date

You don’t owe it to the person to discuss your depression on a first date. If things become more serious, however, you should tell your potential partner. A good time might be when you decide to see each other exclusively or when you just feel that you care more deeply about each other. There are always individual differences. Something may come up in a conversation where it would feel like a natural time or that it would be dishonest not to. You might choose that time to share that you have depression.

How to talk about it

When you feel the time is right, talk about it with this three part “script.” First, tell your partner that they are important to you, enough so that you have something about yourself to share with them. Second, don’t just blurt out “I’m depressed.” Instead, preface it by telling them that there’s something you’ve struggled with that’s a fairly common problem, and let them know you have been diagnosed with depression and that you’re taking care of yourself by seeking treatment. And finally, emphasize again that you care about the person and the relationship. This message is as important as telling her that you have depression.

Accept assistance

In addition to surrounding yourself with the support of friends and family, it’s important to let potential partners know how they can help you. For example, if you exercise regularly to help lift your mood, ask your partner to join you. If they will support you in your endeavors, they could be a real keeper. Telling them about the challenges you face or going to couples counseling can also be helpful. Just talking about your relationship and how depression may impact it lets a person know you want him or her to be a part of your life.

Be patient

If your potential partner asks questions or offers advice, recognize the good intent behind the words—even if they aren’t that helpful. For example, men often feel that it’s their job to make their partner happy. Understand his desire to help, but let him know you can’t always put on a happy face. Some women, on the other hand, expect men to take the initiative to plan dates or activities. This can be hard to do when you are depressed and you have little energy. Let her know you want to be with her, but you may have to keep things low-key.

Low libido

Depression, and some antidepressants, can cause you to lose interest in sex. If you are having libido problems that are medication related, talk to your doctor about alternatives that might be less likely to dampen your sex drive. You can also let your partner know that you care in other ways. If you don’t feel like having sex, let the person know you still find him or her attractive by cuddling or being affectionate.

Online dating

Millions of people turn to the Internet to find romantic partners, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.  It is easy to get discouraged when dating online. It takes skill to know how to navigate online dating to find someone special. There are sites geared specifically for those with mental illness. These types of sites can be a good place to go to, but consider mainstream dating sites as well. Don’t give up after meeting just one or two people. Discuss the process with friends and family; having a good support system can help.