Losing a job is a difficult thing to come to terms with. Whether you were terminated, quit, or laid off; once you are out of work and the money starts drying up, it is only a matter of time before the situational depression kicks in.
Situational depression, unlike clinical depression, has a trigger. It stems from the stress and sorrow that comes with loss. But the overwhelming sensation of decreased self-worth/self-esteem and sorrow that accompanies situational depression can feel a lot like clinical depression.
If you have been out of work for a month or longer, and your applications and resumes are being ignored or you are not landing interviews, it can become very easy to lose yourself in a downward spiral of shame and sorrow. You begin to question your value as a human being, you feel worthless, and you begin to wonder why you even continue to try.
The further into the valley you go, the more difficult it is to climb your way back to the peaks.
There are steps you can take to keep your mind clear and they may help with the inevitable situational depression.
1) Get Plenty of Sleep Yeah, I know. That is hard to do when you are stressed, wondering how you will pay your bills, support your family, eat, etc... But, sleep deprivation and constant over-analyzing is only going to exacerbate matters and make you even more stressed. If you are having difficulty sleeping, take melatonin or some other gentle sleep aid (consult a doctor to make sure it is safe, especially if on RX medication). Try taking a relaxing bath or hot shower. Do whatever you can to shut off the negative and stressful thoughts and allow yourself to sleep and recharge.
2) Stay healthy and Hydrated Do not allow yourself to slip into unhealthy habits. Resorting to smoking or drinking might seem logical, or a way to escape, but they can increase the depression. Drink plenty of water and occasionally get outside and walk to clear your thoughts. Eat fresh food, take vitamin B and D, and stay active. Do not become sedentary. The longer you sit on the couch, the more difficult it will be to leave.
3) Take Weekends Off Job hunting is exhausting and the repetitive cycle can be emotionally and physically draining. Your full-time job now is applying and interviewing, but you shouldn't put in overtime. Spend eight hours a day applying and interviewing. But on the weekends, allow yourself the chance to relax and unwind. You've earned it. Most businesses aren't looking at applications on the weekend anyway. Pick the search back up on Monday. There will be a fresh batch of ads awaiting you then.
4) Don't Withdraw From your Support System Do not allow the depression to make you feel like a burden. Stay in contact with friends and family. Talk with them and allow them to help you make it through this difficult time. Don't make it all about you all the time, you will wear out your welcome, but don't sever ties with valuable life lines. If they are your friends, they will be there for you. They may even have connections who can steer you in the right direction during your search!
5) Take What You Need Until You Can Get What You Want When I was faced with unemployment, I spent a lot of time not applying to jobs that I thought were beneath me. I was making a pittance on unemployment when in actuality, I could have taken a "junk" job that paid more. But, I let pride stop me from taking what I needed, choosing instead to wait until I found what I wanted. It is perfectly okay to take a junk job for short-term purposes. You aren't going to hurt the employers feelings if you leave a few months after starting. They will move on after you go. But, for now, apply to and take that job that you feel is beneath you. It will get money in the bank while you continue to look for that career job. No one is going to judge you.
6) Keep Work Hours Keep your current routine. Whatever you were used to in your prior jobs, those are the schedules you need to stick with. Do not sleep in just because you "Don't have anything worth getting up for". That is a sure-fire way to slip into lethargy and can cause your mental health to begin to decline. By keeping your old schedule you are keeping your mind and body attuned to a recognizable pattern. It will also make the transition back into employment easier for you.
7) Get Help Lastly, understand that depression is a real thing and it can seriously affect your overall well-being. Sometimes you might not be able to see your way out of the darkness. If you have the opportunity and means, seek medical help from a professional. There are a ton of free or discounted services through local behavioral health agencies. If you are in crisis, get help. Medication may be able to help with depression and suicidal ideation if that is going through your mind.
Stay strong, stay well, and be kind to each other.