The Impact of Unemployment on Mental Health | Mental Health Blog
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The Impact of Unemployment on Mental Health

unemployment on mental health

The Impact of Unemployment on Mental Health

Unemployment isn’t just troubling because of finances; the effects of losing your job can also extend to mental health problems.

Many people are quick to complain about their jobs, but even if they don’t particularly love what they are doing, working usually comes with benefits that people don’t realize until they become unemployed.

The Effects of Unemployment on Mental Health

Unemployment can be an emotional rollercoaster. What may start out as eagerness and hope for a new job can turn into bitterness, sadness, and anger as time passes without any luck. Especially when people are unemployed for extended amounts of time, the impact of unemployment on mental health can become more severe and even develop into mental health disorders.

Loss of Purpose

One of the many mental effects of unemployment is often feeling that you no longer have a purpose. Jobs help to give people’s lives meaning by making them feel more productive and like they are a contributing member of society. When some people lose their jobs, they may also lose this sense of purpose. Until they are able to find a new position, they will likely feel useless or empty. These feelings are sometimes precursors to the development of depression.


Depression is common with unemployment. The initial effects of losing your job can leave people feeling sad and upset, but with time, hopelessness about finding another job may set in, and this depression can get much worse. A survey of American citizens found that people who are unemployed are twice as likely to partake in a depression treatment program, either previously or presently, than people who are unemployed. This deviation only gets worse over time with 19% of people unemployed for 52 weeks or longer getting treatment.1


Work may be the way that some people define success, and without it, they start to feel like a failure. This mentality, on top of not being able to provide for their family, can lead some people to self-doubt and insecurity. The longer they go without finding a new job, the worse the blow to their confidence.


Anxiety is another common effect of unemployment. When comparing unemployed men to their employed peers, anxiety was significantly higher in the group without a job than those with one.2 Worries about finances is natural with job loss, but over time these worries could escalate and require anxiety disorder treatment.


All the problems above mixed with the frustration of not being able to find another job can make people angry and irritable. They may snap at their loved ones more easily or get angry at small things that they used to let slide.

Not everyone is able to cope with their mental health problems in a productive manner, especially if they are bored at home during the normal workday. Instead, these people may turn to drugs or alcohol to make them feel better. Over time, this bad behavior can develop into a substance abuse problem that can cause even more problems. Treatment for both issues, like at our Boca dual diagnosis rehab, is usually the only way for the person to regain control.

Not only can losing your job impact your mental health and behaviors, but the mental health effects of unemployment may extend to your spouse and family as well. Anxiety, depression, anger, and hopelessness are all emotions that your loved ones may be feeling at this time. Especially if the effects of losing your job have been drastic and noticeable, your loved ones are likely experiencing these negative emotions with you. With time, your poor mental health could cause rifts in your family that are hard to heal.

The impact of unemployment on mental health can be scary and overwhelming. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health problems, regardless of whether it is related to unemployment, get help. Our Pompano PHP for mental health helps patients get back to feeling like themselves again so they are able to move forward with their lives.

To get more details about our programs at Banyan Mental Health or to start the admissions process, call us today at 888-280-4763.


  1. Gallup - In U.S., Depression Rates Higher for Long-Term Unemployed
  2. NCBI - Effects of Unemployment on Mental and Physical Health

Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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