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Anxiety and Job Loss

The economy continues to crank out bad news. Today’s statistics about home sales were dismal. Housing sales last month were the lowest since 1963. That’s pretty bad. Experts are starting to speculate that the poor housing market could push the economy into a double dip recession which, if it occurs, would mean that many more people could easily lose their jobs.

Don’t get us wrong; there’s not currently a consensus about this bleak outlook, but it is gaining credibility among some analysts. Furthermore, I am no economist and have no real idea what is going to happen to the economy in the coming months and years!

But I do know that losing a job is devastating both financially and mentally. Job loss can shake up emotional stability and deflate self-esteem. Let’s face it; for many, a job is a major source of personal identity as well as income. Those who lose their jobs are at risk for developing anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse. People who, previous to losing their jobs, had a tendency to be anxious, depressed, or abuse alcohol or drugs, are likely to get worse after a job loss actually occurs.

If you’ve lost your job recently and feel signs of creeping anxiety or depression, we recommend that you take some swift actions to prevent yourself from sliding downhill. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get help on your job search. Immediately check out resources such as your state employment office and local community colleges. They both offer training in writing resumes, ideas about training, and other resources. You can also find ideas about writing resumes on the Internet, at bookstores, and your local library.
  • If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, break your various tasks down into small chunks. Thus, on one day you might put your educational background into your resume and the next day fill in information about your last couple of jobs. Making any small step is enormously more helpful than sitting around twiddling your thumbs.
  • Have some friends or colleagues take a look at your resume and solicit feedback from them. Tell them to be critical! Employment agencies provide this kind of help and feedback too.
  • Be flexible! Don’t let anxiety cause your brain and thinking to lock up. Consider creative ideas and outlets for your talents. You can find books in abundance about how to channel your talents in new directions. Read one or two of them.
  • Most importantly, realize that the more you avoid the task, the more your anxiety will increase. You will only get somewhere by facing your fears one small step at a time. The relationship of avoidance to anxiety is like gasoline to fire.

We’ll talk about anxiety related to job interviews and dealing with creeping job loss related depression in another blog soon.

Anxiety and Job Loss

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

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APA Reference
Smith, L. (2010). Anxiety and Job Loss. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 23 Jun 2010
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