Work gives us economic security, a structuring of time and an identity, some aspects of which disappear when we find ourselves unemployed.
At the start of his stop, he can be seen in several ways. Some see it as a sort of “vacation” while others are more worried, but over time it has serious repercussions on our outlook on ourselves and on our health.
Then, we will deepen the subject of the psychological effects of unemployment., The phases in which they appear and what we can do about them.
The main psychological effects of unemployment and its symptoms
Work is an integral part of our life. Not only does it provide us with economic security, but it is also often seen as a source of well-being and psychological and social balance. It is true that a lot of people see work as a negative thing, but employment really acts as an important protective factor for our health because it gives us an identity, economic stability and helps us structure our time and feel useful and valued.
However, at some point in our life we are faced with a situation of unemployment. Maybe it’s because we’ve never had a job before and are looking for what will be our first work experience or it can also happen that we have been made redundant from our previous job, introducing us to uncertainty. unemployment.
Regardless of how the unemployment situation has been reached, if it continues over time, the unemployed person will begin to undergo a series of emotional, psychological and social transformations that should not be underestimated. Indeed, the health of the unemployed is more fragile than that of employed people, having twice the risk of suffering from psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorders and psychosomatization, as well as of seeing their psychological well-being and their diminished self-esteem. .
Of course, each person can experience unemployment differently.. Everyone is unique in their way of relating to the world, having different resources and varying circumstances, in addition to which social and family support may also vary. However, if an unemployed person is unable to find work for a long time, sooner or later their mental health will suffer, which will manifest the severe psychological effects of unemployment.
Phases of job loss
Suddenly, the main psychological effects of unemployment that can be evoked are the decrease in self-esteem, stress, anxiety and negative feelings in general such as devaluation, hopelessness, irritability and apathy. These symptoms do not appear at the onset of unemployment, but after a few months following a whole process that has several phases.
Phase 1. Enthusiasm
This stage lasts for about the first six months since the person loses their job.. Although with surprise and uncertainty, the person tries to view the bad news of their dismissal in a somewhat positive way, believing in their chances of finding a new job and seeing this step as a vacation period. They look to the future with optimism and put energy into the search for a new job. Their expectations are high. They may go through this phase like a crisis, but that’s okay.
Even if the person looks positively at his new state of unemployment, this new condition is not fully assumed and even less introduced as a characteristic of his identity. Go into this situation as a temporary thing, a dead end, something that you will eventually resolve soon. There may also be symptoms of a crisis phase such as mood swings, anxiety, worry about the future, irritation, and sleeplessness.
Phase 2. Stagnation
This stage is between six and 18 months after the person has lost their job. The person who did not find a job in the first stage will start to rethink their situation, Value them as a person and assess their expectations by trying to see if they were unrealistic. As demotivation and disillusionment with the new situation emerges, it is normal for them to start cutting back on their active job searches and changing their professional preferences, looking a little more desperate.
This is where the seizure symptoms that appeared at the first stage begin to worsen. In addition, many people start to feel ashamed or feel guilty about not finding a job, and as a result feel very irritable and nervous, sometimes even aggressive.
Phase 3. Reluctance
This third stage goes from 18 to 24 months since the loss of the job. here people are beginning to resign themselves to their condition, introducing the word “unemployed” into their identity.. His emotional state tends towards depression, in addition to showing feelings of inferiority, apathy, reluctance, hopelessness, failure and sadness. The person feels a real failure because they cannot find a job or because no one wants to hire them.
Phase 4. Total resignation
This step would start approximately 24 months after losing my job. The person has not found anything new for over two years and has lost all hope of returning to work, and is totally resigned to it. He is no longer looking for a job because he considers it a waste of timeBesides being even anxious to search and being rejected again in an interview or not being informed directly despite having submitted resumes all over town.
The unemployed person has a great void in him, considering them as less valuable than working people and also because their former professional status, that is to say the name with which they were defined in relation to his profession (ex : doctor, butcher, teacher …) no longer defines it. It’s not any of that anymore, now it’s “Peter the unemployed” or “Mary the unemployed”. This makes them chronically frustrated.
Outraged, the more time passes, the less you have the feeling that you will be able to do the old job with the same eagerness. You feel like faculties are being lost, that practice that had improved over time has been lost, that you should try again like when you started when you were young … and other impressions that do that the person even recoils. more and I don’t want to look for work.
Psychological characteristics of unemployment
Once we see how unemployment involves different psychological problems in different phases, we can delve deeper into some characteristics of absence from work. Many unemployed people feel that they do not see them, as if they were invisible and removed from the economic and social system., Because in their belief system, those who do not work do not contribute to society.
Another feature of unemployment, which can be given as soon as you hear about the layoff, is confusion and disorganization of the weather. Work imposes schedules which, even if we don’t like it, end up structuring us on a daily basis. We got up to go to work, we went, we worked, and we came back at a certain time, having daily directions on what to do. By the time we stop these patterns, we are lost and confused, risking the days to fly by doing absolutely nothing.
Another very worrying phenomenon that can be associated with unemployment is that the person reduces their social interaction. When we work, we need to relate to our colleagues and none, which, while we don’t like them, gives us a bit of social life. It also happens that when you have a job, you go out with friends to relax and interact with the family. When a person loses their job, they can be so ashamed that they leave their friendships, In addition to not wanting to talk to his family for being very dissatisfied with his situation, which ends up resenting their links.
What to do?
As we have seen, the more we spend the more time we are unemployed, the more our mental health suffers. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, irritability, and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness may appear. If these problems arise, we have to go to a psychologist and also to a professional to help us find a job and manage unemployment. We must not give up and we must keep looking because, although we may pray, sooner or later we will find something.
The first is to adopt an active attitude from the onset of unemployment.. You can see the new situation as a kind of vacation, but not in the sense of getting gout, but as a break. However, we need to take a more positive and active attitude, avoid a negative interpretation of our unemployment and be clear that the more we search, the more likely we are to find something. While we are looking for something, we can take the opportunity to expand our training and retrain, which makes us more competitive in the job market.
Unemployment is a temporary and temporary situation. It is true that the economic crises did not help to find work quickly, and that age is not a factor that helps either, but still we must not give up and ensure that the identity of the “unemployed” takes root in our minds. The more we move, the more we shorten this situation and, if we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, we will always be able to consider the other employment opportunities that we have.
Finally, and as an aspect almost more important than the previous ones, we have to organize our time. Like we said, losing our jobs causes us to spend many empty hours throughout the day which is a bitter situation, but now that we have some free time we can take advantage of it. Now is the time to dedicate ourselves, to do our hobbies, to play sports, to take care of yourself and to train. It is particularly useful to allocate a time slot for searching for daily job vacancies.
- Paul, Karsten and Moser, Klaus. (2009). Unemployment affects mental health: a meta-analysis. Journal of Professional Conduct. 74. 264-282. 10.1016 / j.jvb.2009.01.001.