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The Long Unemployed: Emotional Effects of Unemployment

With the economy going nowhere fast in the U.S., more and more unemployed workers are looking toward endless unemployment with little hope for their future.

Two recent articles I read highlight this problem and the associated devastating impact being unemployed can have on one’s emotional health — especially their self-esteem and sense of worth. While not all of us value ourselves based upon our job, it can’t help to make up a part of our self-worth no matter where we are in life.

Some people believe age starts playing more and more of a discriminatory role in the hiring process. Older people feel like they are often not hired because of their age, or perhaps because their greater experience requires a higher starting salary.

In any case, it’s no fun being unemployed for months, or even years. In fact, it can make a person downright suicidal.

12 Comments to
The Long Unemployed: Emotional Effects of Unemployment

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  1. This issue is concerning to me as I am seeing more people who are “depressed”, or now “Bipolar”, or “anxious”, yet a sizeable portion are just seeking meds to “fix the problem” that no medication is going to touch with someone chronically unemployed.

    All this does is entrench the issue with overprescribing of psychotropics that in the end will do little good and potentially much harm, especially if controlled subs are introduced. Add to this the risk of other substance abuse issues with the mood/anxiety and too much free time, and the results are more difficult to intervene.

    In my opinion, Axis 4 is part of the diagnostic criteria to remind us, the clinicians, what are the stressors going on and how they impact. Someone who has no history of diagnostic mental illness problems who is now unemployed, financially teetering around bankruptcy, and suffering interpersonally should not be whimsically labeled with a major mood disorder on a first diagnostic visit unless the presentation is so entrenched that no professional would argue what is the presentation. And yet, why are more than 75% of said patients given Major Axis I disorders by colleagues?

    Oh yeah, phase of life is not reimburseable. Yet, it certainly has impacts on peoples’ health, mentally and physically. Maybe when some of these insurance companies tank should PPACA survive the legal challenges, we’ll see who in the insurance field can access services, depending on what is their real diagnosis. Shame we can’t see someone in the upper hierarchy feel some of the pain!

  2. I have seen an increase in appointments to the extent that I have had to temporarily stop taking new patients. The same is with my other psychiatrist colleagues. I have a Psychiatric practice in Scottsdale AZ and I think that the unemployment issue is not only a negative impact on one’s self esteem; but also a trigger for bipolar disorder and major depression. The number of bipolar diagnoses that we are seeing in the last few years since the employment crisis is staggering. Whether the unemployment is a trigger to situational depression or an underlying biological illness is yet to be determined since many are still out of work and seem to have a constant “threat” looming overhead! Sometimes the best advice is to turn the news off, eat well, get plenty of exercise, be grateful and learn to laugh!

  3. To all the unemployed “Dont get sad, Get Mad!

  4. I have never been suicidal until the last 2 years. I have no hope of ever finding a job again as I am 51. I have lost my savings and my retirement money just trying to survive. I have fought the urge to kill myself, but often review strategies to minimize the pain it will cause my husband and others. I do have a life insurance policy that my parents purchased when I was a child that will cover my cremation expenses. I have no hope left.

    • I know how u feel. I am 50 and I have been out of work for 2 years and 2 months. My place of work shut down. I was there for 22 years. No one will give me a chance. I can’t find a job. Out of 460 job applications I got one call fir part time work abbot 80 miles from my house. I really want to work. Congress needs to help get jobs for people 50 and over or even 45 and over. We are desperate to get a job. Please help us. I don’t even want to wake up. I just want this torture to be over with.

  5. I went through a down spell, and I had a theory it might have been triggered by allergy meds. and inactivity. I’am 63 and have had two jobs this year. The first was at a HONEYWELL distribution vary physicial and loud. My hearing was being damaged, so I brought ear muff and they immediately dismissed me. The second job was Amazon. Good place to work, liked it but the computer said I did not scan and sort fast enough. Suspect I a little dyslexic, oh well. Think of what you love,and try to find a job in that area. Remember the Coronal did not hit stride until he was 65. The sun shall rise and, purpose found.

  6. I went through a down spell, and I had a theory it might have been triggered by allergy meds. and inactivity. I’am 63 and have had two jobs this year. The first was at a HONEYWELL distribution, vary physicial, and loud. My hearing was being damaged, so I brought an ear muff, and they immediately dismissed me. The second job was Amazon. Good place to work, liked it but the computer said I did not scan and sort fast enough. Suspect I’am a little dyslexic, oh well. Think of what you love, and try to find a job in that area. Remember the Coronal did not hit stride until he was 65. The sun shall rise, and purpose found.

    • Itz really nice to hear such a brave story , things went wrong but you ddn’t give up , i’m also an unemployed i get tensed thinking about it but your story is an inspiration . Continue to live with the hope because God has plans for everyone , plans nt to harm you but to prosper you.

  7. To all those seeking a job when there aren’t any: realize that you still have the right to be on earth. If the economy is so messed up that there aren’t enough jobs and overpopulation is a partial cause coupled with corporate mismanagement… you still have to exist. If you have a place to sleep, some food, a brain to think with, things to read or amuse yourself with (ie walks) then hey you are doing okay. Just don’t and I repeat don’t place your worth on whether you are connected to a job. If you don’t have a job and others do then they can pay for your foodstamps or welfare, it is a form of sharing. Just don’t beat yourself up about it if you’ve looked and looked for a job & can’t find one.

  8. Young people feel this kind of depression too. Older people often underestimate how much we value our jobs, and stereotype all young people to get the job first like they didnt deserve it. Not all young people are lazy or a smart-ass. I’m 23yrs old, i loved my job and accomplished my task with a enthusiasm and passion, then I got fired unfairly. I felt same way as anyone else, knowing that I’m only starting my career with very few experience (as many young people are) it is hard to find work again. Im so worried on where im headed in my life, if i ever gonna be able to support myself. Im terrified that I’ll go nowhere in life, i feel worthless because I couldnt even get a chance to further without being hold two steps back. Same way as all the depressed unemployed individuals in their 30s, 40s and 50s. It sucks not having a job, we young people feel the pain too especially if we lost the job we thought we’re born to do. It’s ridiculously unbearable, I just want to work again and make something out of myself

  9. I am 27 years old and know exactly how you feel JMS.

    I had a temp role and loved it hoping to be made permanent and was even promised to be. However I had to be let go due to funding and I was devastated. I did not seek other jobs as I needed a break but now 3 months later I have never felt more depressed and sad. My self worth has decreased. I might have an interview in 2 weeks. I am really hoping to get the job. But then again I dont know how ill feel if I dont get it. I cry all the time. I feel guilty about spending hubby’s hard earned money even though he does not see the issue. I just feel like a completely different person. I have always had a job since I was 17 and this is the first time I am unemployed – and it was not by choice. I just want a job, feel productive and useful. I jsut want to make a difference and earn money while doing it.

    By the way its not the money that gets me depressed as we are able to survive and pay our mortgage, its the psychological impact that has hit hard and is getting worse with time. I dont even leave the house anymore. I dont have the motivation to exercise, meet friends, look after myself or anything anymore.


  10. I have been unemployed now for over two years and I can relate to so much with the struggles others are enduring. Currently I am living in the front seat of my truck. Every night I park illegally behind hotels in Hazelwood Mo. and try to blend in with the other vehicles. To stay clean I bath in the woods of a local park using a five gallon bucket for water. It is so degrading to have to sneak back in the woods, strip off you cloths and use a coffee cup for a shower. My physical health has deteriorated. I have gained a tremendous amount of weight from eating low cost junk food. My teeth are deteriorating rapidly. The depression is so bad that strangly I have accepted it as the ‘ normal ‘. Initially after losing my job I made a genuine attempt to find a job but I am 57 years old and with every passing day this gets harder and harder and I have become bitter, resentful and despondent. All I want is a decent job, the ability to see a doctor, a place to take a shower and it may seem strange but I want to have a pet. It’s so lonely staring up into the sky through the windshield every night and it is getting harder by the day to hold it together. I am estranged from my relatives who see me as a hassle or a burden so I have lost contact with the people who could possibly help me. I know that I need professional help with emotional problems but I can not afford to pay cash with no guaranteed results. Thank you for at least allowing me to speak about this.



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