Is Unemployment Making You Sick?
- Jul 22, 2011
A review of US unemployment, its relation to depression and suggestions for coping.
According to the Wall Street Journal over 14 million Americans are unemployed. As LaHart and Hagart mention in their article, although we are in an economic recovery phase, as of July 2011 the US job market has “7 million fewer jobs than when the recession started in late 2007”. Ben Tracy of CBS News comments that approximately 6.2 million Americans or 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in the US have been without jobs for more than 6 months. That record, my friends, has reached an all-time high since the Great Depression of 1929.
Chronic State of Unemployment
If you have been searching for employment unsuccessfully take refuge in the thought that you are not alone; the Wall Street Journal notes that 30% or 4.4 million of unemployed Americans have been jobless for over a year; and that “more than 1 million of the long-term unemployed have run out of unemployment benefits”. The problem lies not with you, but rather the sad state of affairs in the US economy.
Unemployment and Depression
After three months of combing the internet in search of employment opportunities and countless hours copying and pasting your resume on job search engines without positive results, the average person begins to settle into feelings of discontentment, and after six months depression may prevail. Jenny Marlar reports recent Gallop findings which reveal that individuals “who are unemployed for more than six months are much more likely to experience daily negative emotions, including worry, sadness and stress…” The depression itself makes it more difficult for the individual to successfully seek employment and within a short period of time many of the unemployed can find themselves in a feedback loop of desperation.
Symptoms of Depression
Decrease in emotional well-being leads to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, sexual dysfunction, fatigue and sluggishness. Emotional symptomology includes crying spells, irritability, and sadness, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, as well as loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. A three year study commissioned by the European Union and conducted by Yale Researcher Brenner found that higher unemployment is linked to a higher death rate.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Don’t wait till you feel depressed or identify with any of the qualifiers of depression, here are a few suggestions provided by Mary Winters from Iowa State University:
- Take care of yourself. More than ever this is the time to eat well, exercise and indulge in the extra pampering of a bubble bath or oil rub.
- Have the entire family participate in discussions of the current family economic situation. Speaking about the situation and soliciting family support will take off a ton of pressure.
- Match spending with income. Adopt a less is best mentality.
- Use company and local services to assist you locate a job, as well as supplement the economic crunch. Don’t let your ego prevent you from approaching your church or community center for aid.
- Make plans for the future. A goal can help us keep motivated.
Unemployment Survival Kit
I would add a few things to our unemployment survival kit:
- ENJOY! Although you might not feel motivated to engage in professional networking, join community sport teams, cooking clubs, reading groups, sewing circles, biking and jogging groups. Give yourself the permission to ENJOY activities you previously were too busy to do. This will boost your self-esteem. The added contacts will also increase your employment possibilities.
- Volunteer. When you give you receive, and in turn, you feel good about yourself. Feeling good about yourself will give you a better perspective on life and greater likelihood of employment.
- Stress Management. Engage in yoga, tai chi, meditation. If you belong to a faith community, now is the time to step up participation.
- If your symptoms seem to be getting the better of you, seek professional help.
Unemployment can literally make you sick. Don’t let it.