Dealing with unemployment-related depression


Unemployment comes with a host of unwanted side effects. Among the more obvious are financial concerns and lifestyle changes that reflect a loss of income, such as dining at home instead of nights on the town, or cutting back on certain luxuries.


One of the lesser discussed but potentially harmful side effects of unemployment is depression. Several studies have indicated a link between poverty and social isolation and depression. When unemployed for long periods of time -- a reality for many workers in a job market the Center for Economic Policy and Research considers the worst since the Great Depression -- the resulting isolation from colleagues and friends coupled with a loss of income can be enough to trigger depression.


To the millions of workers across the globe who are unemployed and dealing with depression, the simplest solution might be finding a job. But that's no small task, and men and women must find additional ways to cope with depression as they continue to look for work.


* Establish a schedule. Even if there's no longer an office to drive to each morning, unemployed men and women should maintain a schedule. When looking for work, do so during set hours each weekday. Set aside the hours between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. that are devoted specifically to finding a job. Continue a schedule that mimics the one you had while you were working. This schedule should include getting up and showering each morning. This allows you to maintain contact with old colleagues and stick to the same social schedule you followed while employed.


* Volunteer. When dealing with the daily grind, many people lament that life goes so fast they don't have time to do things like volunteer in their community. Now that time is on your side, make the most of it and volunteer, whether it's coaching youth sports or helping out at a nearby hospital. Spending time positively and making an impact on others' lives is a great way to lift your own spirits.


Another way unemployed men and women can volunteer is within their own industries. If you were laid off but still have a passion for your work, volunteer your time. This is a great way to stay in touch with the industry and make new contacts who might be able to help you find a new job.


* Take a break. Finding a job in today's market is essentially a full-time job. While it's important to be diligent in a job search, it's just as important to take a break. Rest on weekends and spend time with friends and family just like you would if you were still employed. Doing so helps recharge the batteries and can help fight off feelings of isolation that may or may not exist.


* Eat right and exercise. Maintaining or adopting a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise can be effective at combating depression. Daily exercise enhances mood in a positive way, and while no specific foods have been clinically proven to ease symptoms of depression, some foods support wellness, repair and growth. A Spanish study that examined nearly 10,000 men and women found that rates of depression increased in men as their folate intake decreased. Folate is a vitamin of the B complex found in leafy green vegetables. The same study found that women whose B12 intake decreased were also more prone to depression.


Many men and women may use their hectic schedules as an excuse to eat a poor diet and avoid daily exercise. Unemployed men and women can use this respite from the daily grind to adopt a healthier lifestyle, one that can even help combat depression that might result from unemployment.


One thing men and women must also remember when dealing with depression that might have resulted from unemployment is they are not alone. With millions of professionals currently out of work, support groups have formed to help men and women combat depression and better cope with the side effects of unemployment.


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