Be Aware! Financial Distress Can Become Depression
Career planning involves insight and foresight — including to some extent, an ability to predict the future. Many professional risks are predictable, such as market trends and consumer purchasing patterns.
The risk of a pandemic was not. As a result, many economic consequences of Covid-19 were unforeseen, resulting in a significant financial hit for a substantial segment of the workforce.
True, many employees are able to telework. But not everyone is so lucky. Those who have been involuntarily furloughed or laid off are experiencing negative consequences, both financially and emotionally. Making matters worse from a mental health perspective for some, is the fact that they did not see it coming.
The Emotional Consequences of Sudden Insolvency
Whether you are a new employee or a seasoned veteran, job security is an important part of professional life. When the rug is pulled out from under you financially, the fall can be fast and hard.
Some common emotions shared by the newly unemployed and their families, not surprisingly, include anxiety, and depression.
Megan R. Ford et al. (2019), recognizing the practical observation from a therapy perspective of the crossover between financial concerns and mental health issues, found evidence indicating a significant relationship between financial distress and depression.
Specifically, they found that in a clinical sample, financial distress predicted depression, and depression predicted financial distress.
Richard H. Price et al., in a study, "Links in the Chain of Adversity Following Job Loss," utilized models of the stress process to investigate the association between job loss and depression, and the subsequent association between depression and decreased personal functioning, and poor health.
Studying 756 people who lost their jobs, they found two significant mediating mechanisms in what they describe as a "chain of adversity" from losing a job to poor health and functioning.
These were decreased personal control and financial strain.
Regarding the psychological impacts of these factors, they found financial strain to be the mediating factor between the loss of a job and depression and personal control, and found that decreased personal control mediates the negative affect of depression and financial strain on poor functioning, and reportedly poor health.
Specifically, the authors suggest that loss of personal control is "a pathway through which economic adversity is transformed into chronic problems of poor health and impaired role and emotional functioning."
But one important suggestion following sudden, involuntary employment, is quick intervention.
Early Intervention Is Important: Here's Why
Research has established that involuntary job loss can trigger symptoms of complicated grief, anxiety, and depression. Janske H.W. Eersel et al. (2020), studying 128 Dutch workers who lost their jobs within a 1-year period, found that complicated grief at a baseline time period predicted depression and anxiety six months later, but not vice-versa.
These results highlight the need for early intervention, targeting symptoms of complicated grief related to sudden unemployment, in order to prevent later experiences of anxiety or depression.
Emphasizing early intervention is particularly important health-wise because symptoms of depression often take a toll mentally as well as physically. A case of the blues might prompt self-medication through unhealthy habits in an effort to boost mood.
This might be especially true when a sudden job loss results in too much free time, and too little motivation to use it productively.
True, some benched employees spring into action, polishing their resume and looking for new job opportunities. Others are unable to muster that motivation. While their industrious counterparts are on the Internet surveying job openings, they are in the kitchen opening the refrigerator.
Encouragement Lends Support
Whether fired or furloughed, employees who have lost jobs due to Covid 19 argue they are not in the mood to focus on self-improvement. First, they need to focus on improving their mood. As loved ones, friends, and family, we can offer support, understanding, and encouragement for those who need to find new employment.
These priceless emotional gifts in a challenging time of need may help unemployed individuals embark upon the road to recovery, both emotionally and financially.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today.
Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 4,000 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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