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It’s normal to feel bad if you lose your job. Even if you hated it, there’s the reality that bills need to be paid. Hence, you will feel some inevitable grief over the loss. The key is to let yourself feel — but don’t let it linger. Research shows that the longer you are unemployed, the higher the risk of being diagnosed with depression. Of those unable to find work for a year, at least 20 percent are in treatment.

The tendency toward depression goes beyond job and income loss. Someone out of work also losses contact with co-workers and a daily structure. In some cases, the job provides a sense of status and self-esteem.

How Do You Know If You’re Depressed After a Job Loss? 

Depression — regardless of its cause — is very common in the U.S. As many as seven percent of adults will experience a depressive disorder each year. Some red flags to watch for:

  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Harboring a sense of self-blame and self-hate
  • Being ashamed and/or guilty about how you feel
  • Losing interest in activities that once excited you (including sex)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating much less or much more and thus, gaining or losing weight
  • Isolating oneself
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of death, dying, self-harm, or suicide

If any of the above sounds familiar, please ask for help immediately.

How to Deal With Depression Because of a Job Loss

Find Balance

As mentioned above, you will need to grieve. But, unfortunately, you do not have the luxury of taking your time about it. This is an unpleasant reality but if you dwell on it, you will a) decrease your odds of getting right back into the workforce and b) increase your odds of struggling with depression.

Prepare Yourself For the Job Hunt

You can view this as a two-pronged approach:

  • Do the practical grunt work: Assess your skills, polish your resume, ask for letters of recommendation, and so on. Preparation and commitment are indispensable.
  • Don’t take it all personally: No offense, but you are almost certainly going to deal with rejection — often. View these experiences as a chance to learn and resist any tendency to start doubting yourself. That is a fast track toward depression.

Stay Structured and Routine-Oriented 

You will almost certainly need at least a few days to decompress. But after that, get yourself locked into a rhythm. Your work hours probably created a structure in your life. Now, the onus is on you to maintain routines. This will keep you focused and feeling more “normal” as you move forward.

Consider the Possibilities

It is quite practical to aim for positions that are familiar and directly match your skillset. Still, you could take more than one tack. Is there something you always wanted to do? Were you craving a career change? Can you afford to go back to school or at least take some classes while looking for work? By casting a wide net, you can turn a jolting development like job loss into an incredible opportunity for growth and fulfillment.

Depression Should Not Be Faced Alone

Depression is a diagnosable disorder that can produce some dire symptoms. Don’t make this a solo act. Talk to the people in your life. Join support groups in person and online to connect with others in a similar scenario. Talk with your family about how you feel and what options you have.

Most importantly, connect with a mental health professional. You will benefit greatly from having a space — each week — to talk openly about your emotions, your plans, your dreams, and more. If losing a job has impacted you in a big way, let’s connect soon to talk about it.

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Therapy for Men is a practice led by Dr. Rick Pomfret which offers counseling and psychotherapy services tailored to the needs of men. Their services encompass anxiety therapy, depression therapy, relationship therapy, men’s issues and support for those navigating life transitions or divorce. With offices in San Francisco and Corte Madera, Therapy4Men provides convenient access to mental health care for men in the Bay Area and online across California.