When Your Job Loss Brings You Down: 8 Ways To Cope

Even though the economy has gotten better in the past two years, there are still those who continue to struggle, and the unemployment rate for African Americans is still one 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 millions of Americans who are unemployed, it can easily challenge your mental health. 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 Ways To Cope With Job Loss and Manage 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?