Although economists are reporting gains in our current economy, the reality is that unemployment is still a very real and very serious problem. A March 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the unemployment rate at around 8.8% an alarming rate. They also noted that “the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs” was at 8.2 million, which saw a 1.3 million fall since November of 2010; but that long-term unemployed individuals (jobless for 27 weeks or more) was at 6.1 million, an increase from 43.9% to 45.5% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011). While these statistics can be a little confusing at times, the reality of them is that the jobless rate isn’t going down quickly, and the long-term unemployed are finding the economy the hardest to deal with. This severe lack of work available, and the difficulties associated with finding a job in these tough economic times are raising questions in the mental health arena. What impact is unemployment having on depression rates? And what effect is depression having on unemployment?
Donston-Miller (2011) relays the story of a programmer who was laid off and began experiencing symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. The individuals put out hundreds of resumes and went to numerous interviews, all with no results. After time, the individual admitted feeling that he wasn’t going to get the job before he even went to the interview, and that his depressive mood, stress, and anxiety made him lack confidence, and even affected his knowledge base. This story illustrates the very real effects of unemployment, and how it can bring on depression, stress, and anxiety. Sadly enough, these mood problems in turn affect one’s ability to secure a job, thus prolonging the duration of unemployment. Stories like this are not uncommon, and this is one reason why 6.1 million Americans are experiencing, and have been experiencing long-term unemployment.
Colorado State University (2008) noted that researchers have found a “strong relationship between unemployment rates and increased mental hospital admissions, suicide, homicide, total mortality, and cardiovascular-renal disease” in addition it was also found that unemployment contributes to “greater depression and lower self-esteem.” Confidence and hope for the future are two of the most important things in finding a job and presenting oneself for an interview. So, not only are people more prone to depression and a lack of self-confidence, but they are also in a position to make finding work harder.
The relationship between depression and unemployment is a vicious cycle in dire need of correction. Additionally, higher awareness of this problem would aid getting individuals stuck in this rut out of it. Sadly, there is a lack of awareness of this cycle, and a lack of consideration for gaps in employment history.
A Positive Outlook is Still Attainable
While finding and securing a job may still be difficult, unemployment doesn’t have to affect one’s entire life. It was previously thought that those who experience unemployment aren’t able to bounce back, at least not entirely. However, Mulvey (2010) notes that more recent research has shown that “most people cope well” and that they “report few long-term effects on their overall well-being.” This means that people who are able to secure a satisfying job can return to their lifestyles with relative normalcy. This is great news for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and excessive stress due to unemployment.
Mulvey, J. (2010). Unemployment Has Little Long-Term Effect on Mental Health. Business News.
Colorado State University (2008). The Human Side of Agriculture :Managing Tough Times. Department of Human Development & Family Studies.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011). Employment Situation Summary. Department of Labor.
Donston-Miller, D. (2011). Depression is Making Unemployment Longer.