Navigating Depression After Losing a Job

Packing things

There are many ways to “lose” a job. Of course, you could be fired. But the possibilities include getting downsized, retiring, or having a freelance gig dry up. Whatever the underlying cause, you’re in for a big change. With change of any kind comes stress — lots of stress, and even feelings of grief and loss. You’ve lost a source of income, but you may have also surrendered a social circle, structure in your life, and your sense of identity.

You feel angry, disappointed, or sad about the change and/or perhaps nervous about the future. Loss has a way of doing this. It also causes grief. From there, grief can often transform into depression

It’s Common to Feel Sadness After Losing a Job

As touched on above, job loss can dramatically disrupt your life. Of course, this may throw you for a loop. Therefore, it is natural that you’d struggle with some varying emotions, including sadness. This may last a few days or even a week. Rarely is it a diagnosable case of depression. But here are some depression red flags to watch for:

  • The sadness lasts for most of the day for at least two consecutive weeks
  • You’ve lost interest in activities that you once enjoyed 
  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits (more or less)
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Being unmotivated to look for a new job
  • Feeling isolated and lonely
  • Decreased self-esteem from losing part of your identity 
  • Living aimlessly and without structure
  • Feeling guilty and blaming yourself
  • Having thoughts of self-harm or hopelessness 

Such signs and symptoms can strike anyone but have been found at higher rates among men and anyone over 55 years of age.

3 Ways to Navigate Depression After Losing a Job

Obviously, every situation is different. That said, the following three suggestions are almost universally helpful and advised: 

1. Appreciate the Need to Feel 

Give yourself permission to recognize the loss and emotions that occur,  and respond in a self-loving manner. This can include:

  • Giving yourself permission to grieve. 
  • Feel what you need to feel — don’t suppress your emotions or pretend “it’s no big deal.”
  • Do your best to stay present and mindful while still taking steps to secure your future. 
  • Join a support group, an online or in-person group.
  • Do not isolate yourself — ask for help and seek support.

2. Take Good Care of Yourself 

A solid, committed self-care regimen is crucial. Four pillars of such a commitment are:

  • Daily Exercise and Physical Activity
  • Healthy Eating Choices
  • Regular Sleep 
  • Stress Management

3. Redefine Yourself

Quite often, when we meet someone new, they will ask, “What do you do?” The expectation is that you’ll talk about your job. This is a common way to sell yourself short. You’re so much more than how you earn a paycheck. Hence, when you lose your job, it’s the ideal time to practice defining yourself more broadly and creatively. “Unemployed” is not who you are. Here are some ways to begin this vital transition:

  • Express Yourself: You’ll learn a lot about yourself when you get creative. Never before has it been easier to share your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs with the world.
  • Try Something New: What have you wanted to try or do, but life has gotten in the way? Use this extra time to explore new interests.
  • Help Others: Nothing gives you a sense of purpose or meaning like helping others. You’ll gain a new perspective. If you do volunteer work, you may also gain some new career ideas! 

Be Sure to Get Some Help

Depression is much more than temporary sadness. It’s a diagnosable disorder that requires professional guidance. If losing your job — for any reason — has impacted you in a serious way, please reach out to Onyx to set up a free and confidential consultation call and to explore how therapy with a skilled and competent therapist can help. 

Depression After Losing a Job