Depression and Unemployment
One of the primary concerns unemployed people face is depression. Without income, a work-related identity, a feeling of purpose and a sense of accomplishment, the growing stress will easily transition into depressive symptoms.
People with jobs may experience the pain of depression as well, but those who are unemployed often have fewer protective factors to balance the stress. Common protective factors include:
- Feeling safe and supported
- Physical and economic stability
- Strong family relationships
- Good self-esteem
- Being physically and mentally healthy otherwise
As periods of unemployment lengthen, the protective factors begin to erode and let depression grow stronger. Not only will unwanted symptoms emerge, but people will also be more likely to explore negative coping skills to offset the impact of depression.
Increased Substance Use During Unemployment
Substance use is just one way people seek to manage their unemployment-related depression. Rather than seeking out healthy coping skills, people resort to the “quick fix” of alcohol and other drugs to modify their mood and forget their problems.
Related Topic: Alcohol and Depression
COVID-19 has created other layers to their problem, though. Many people became unemployed, and as the crisis moves forward, there is no end to their joblessness in sight.
Also, with restrictions in place to maintain physical health and safety, many people are being cut off from their coping skills. People may feel unable to:
- Socialize with friends
- Visit family members
- Go to the movies or out to eat
- Participate in sports or watch sporting events
- Exercise in a gym or health club
In 2020, unemployment, anxiety, anger, boredom, depression, isolation and substance abuse are all interconnected. A recent survey by The Recovery Village shows that substance use has increased in 2020, especially among young adults.
Another study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that depression and anxiety symptoms are growing month after month as the pandemic continues.
How To Cope With Unemployment Depression
Coping with depression is usually a challenge, but coping with depression during the coronavirus pandemic is even more complex because stress is higher, healthy outlets are scarce, and the world’s uncertainty seems to grow each day. Coping is always possible, though. Here’s how:
- Fix the physical.
People may want to address the mental health concerns head on, but sometimes, giving attention and time to your physical health is a great start. By eating well, prioritizing sleep and getting more exercise, you put yourself in a better position to recover.
- Limit the content.
Being stuck inside more probably means that you are staring at your phone endlessly. Many people are consuming copious amounts of content about politics, COVID-19, and other stressors. There is a fine line between being informed and being overwhelmed, so turn off your screens and search for beauty in your world.
- Control the controllable.
Wanting to improve your employment or mental health is fantastic, but you have limited control over these issues. You cannot force someone to hire you and you cannot make your brain stop being depressed. Practice patience and understanding while being kind to yourself to shrink the unwanted effects of unemployment and depression.
- Find yourself.
If you are used to being identified by your profession, this period of unemployment allows you to rediscover who you are, what you like and what you want to accomplish in your life. It’s not a crisis. It’s an opportunity.