Tough mental toll: stress, anxiety and depression

Stress, anxiety and depression experienced by the longterm unemployed – a tough mental toll.

  • People unemployed for six months or more often show signs of depression
  • The job search itself creates anxiety, as does the anticipation of rejection
  • Make sure you take care of yourself while looking for jobs
  • Be flexible and open to opportunities outside your field

It’s common for people who have been unemployed for six months or longer to show signs of depression, says Diane Lang, psychotherapist based in Livingston, New Jersey, USA Eating habits focus on comfort foods, leading to binging. Stress, anxiety and negative thoughts make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, resulting in fatigue and lethargy.

“Being unemployed is actually one of the most difficult, most devastating experiences that people go through,” said Robert L. Leahy, director of the American Insititute for Cognitive Therapy and author of “The Worry Cure.” Research suggests that being unemployed doubles a person’s chance of a major depressive episode and that unemployment is also highly associated with domestic violence and alcohol abuse, Leahy said. Unemployment is also associated with an increased risk of suicide, often because of the link to depression, according to the Suicide Research and Prevention Center.

Unemployment: stress, anxiety and depression

Physical health may also suffer: new medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes may follow the loss of a job, Leahy said. There are suggestions that unemployment can even lead to cardiovascular disease, although it is difficult to prove that job loss causes heart damage.

Anxiety, Depression and Stress of Long Term Unemployment
Anxiety, Depression and Stress of Long Term Unemployment

Feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed about their situations, some unemployed people isolate themselves socially and don’t find enjoyment in the activities they once did, Lang said. They may feel hopeless, confused or overwhelmed. Physical symptoms can also include joint and body aches.And even if you’re trying to get yourself out of unemployment, the job search itself brings significant stress: Research suggests that unemployed workers who actively engage in job-search activities are more likely to have worse mental health, according to a 2005 study.

Not everyone gets clinical depression as a result of unemployment, but it’s a concern, Lang said. Friends and family of unemployed people should look for warning signs, such as sadness, lack of energy, insomnia and irritability.

Stress, anxiety and depression of the Long Term Unemployed is a major health and social issue that needs attention.

The Australian Long-Term Unemployment Conference 2014 is a national conference focusing on at risk groups for Long-Term Unemployment [Mature Age, Youth, Indigenous, Disability, Regional] . The conference will be held on 18-19 August 2014, QT Hotel Surfers Paradise. The conference is an initiative of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association; an incorporated non-government, not for profit organisation.

Call for Papers is now open, we welcome abstract submissions on mental health, anxiety, stress and other health and social issues related to long term unemployment

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