Losing a job is one of life's most stressful events. And for some people, a pink slip is a ticket to depression. Being fired or laid off can make you feel that you've lost control of your life. This can lead to sadness or hopelessness and can even hurt your physical health.
Uncertainty about the future can be a major problem. Depression often strikes people who thought they had a certain career path. Now they may fear that even if they do find a job, their new company may not survive in the current economy.
If you are facing job loss, it's important to take good care of yourself, keep a positive attitude, and be on the lookout for signs of depression.
Tips for coping with job loss
- Have a routine. Get up and dress each morning. Set daily goals for job hunting and stick to them. Tell yourself you do have a job: looking for work. Eat meals at regular times, and go to bed about the same time each night.
- Stay connected. Don't try to handle everything alone. Discuss your thoughts and feelings with those close to you. Ask family and friends for help when you need it. Call people who might have job leads for you.
- Keep active. Don't hole up at home. Consider a part-time job or volunteer work until you find a new position. This could help you make new contacts and give you a sense of satisfaction. Plus, staying busy can help ward off negative thoughts.
- Make a budget. Losing a job can deal a severe blow to family finances.Be realistic about how much you have and how much you need to live on. Look for ways to cut expenses, and get everyone in the family on board. If you have debt, talk to your creditors and work out a payment schedule. Seek debt counseling if you need help.
- Get regular physical activity. Exercise is a great stress-buster. It can help lift your mood, prevent weight gain, give you more energy, and help you sleep better. Check with your doctor before you increase your activity level.
- Take care of your health. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Limit junk food, which can be high in fat and sugar and lead to weight gain. See your doctor for regular checkups.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. Some people make the mistake of drinking or using drugs to reduce stress. These substances won't fix anything, and they can create other serious problems. Choose healthier ways to relieve stress, such as exercise or deep breathing.
- Consider a support group. It can be helpful to talk to others who have been through the same experience. You might also get some ideas about job opportunities and tips about the local job market. To find support groups in your area, check your local unemployment office, library, or YMCA.
- Be alert for signs of depression. Common signs of depression include trouble sleeping, a change in appetite, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, and feeling tired, hopeless, worthless, or guilty. If you notice these symptoms, get professional help. Depression can be treated with medication, therapy, or both.
Created on 10/29/2002
Updated on 05/12/2011
- Mental Health America of Colorado. Coping with job loss.
- Workplace Fairness. Coping with job loss.
- Price RH, Choi JN, Vinokur AD. Links in the chain of adversity following job loss: how financial strain and loss of personal control lead to depression, impaired functioning, and poor health. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2002;7:302-312.