“People who are unemployed are two to four times more likely to develop major depression,” says Robert Leahy, PhD, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy and author of The Worry Cure. “They suffer insomnia, increased blood pressure and cholesterol. A Finnish study that followed people who’d been unemployed found that 24 years later they were twice as likely to die.” Leahy’s an expert on the subject; he just finished researching a new book, Keeping Your Head After Losing Your Job, which comes out next year. Here’s his prescription for beating the blues.
#1. Validate your emotions. “If you say to yourself, ‘Just snap out of it,’ you’ll get nowhere. You’re right to feel angry, upset, hopeless. Your emotions make sense,” Leahy says. The key to getting past them is understanding that you’re not alone. Leahy points out that the labor participation rate is 64%; that means 36% of the population is not employed. “When you say unemployment is 7.8%, those are people who’ve looked for a job in the past four weeks. It doesn’t count people who haven’t looked, have given up or people who are underemployed. Knowing that there is always a significant number of people who are unemployed normalizes the experience.”