We live in a stressful society. We need to keep up with the hustle and bustle of everyday, as well as professional, life. Stress might feel more commonplace than a sense of peace.
Although there are several difficult, nationwide events that we are all currently adapting to, one of the most talked-about stressors in modern American culture is the dramatic rise in unemployment.
Joblessness is becoming more widespread in the United States. For example, in January 2001, the unemployment rate of individuals 16 years and older was 4.2 percent. By January 2011, this percentage more than doubled to 9.7 percent (Department of Labor, 2011). The situation seems to be improving in 2012.
A rapidly increasing unemployment rate can dramatically affect people who are out of work, as well as those struggling to keep their jobs.
Psychologically, our thinking dictates our feelings about a situation. For one person, unemployment might stir up a fear of the inability to feed the family. For another, it might induce anxiety — covering the rent may feel impossible. It might take on more symbolic meanings such as loss of identity, loss of meaning in life, loss of routine, or loss of a sense of competency.
While these thoughts are common, they are not necessarily valid or rational, and may lead to depression. In a study by Dooley, Catalano, and Wilson (1994) that surveyed both employed and unemployed people, it was found that individuals who became unemployed were more than twice as likely to experience increased depressive symptoms or the risk of becoming clinically depressed.
How We Depress Ourselves
A situation does not make us a feel a certain way. It does not choose how we feel. Rather, we choose how we think about, perceive, and process the situation. Our thinking influences how we feel and behave.
A wise professor once told me to think about any terrorist attack that I had read about. Our nation reacted with fear, disgust, hatred, and grief. However, those who perpetrated the act felt pride, power, and happiness. Different perceptions of the same situation influence our feelings.