It might seem like a bulletin from The News in Obviousness, but being unemployed is kind of depressing. Why is it worth talking about it, then? Well, for one thing, most of the news we read about unemployment is focused on numbers and statistics, which, while valuable information, has a way of making readers forget the human side of joblessness.
Individual stories, however, are much more heart-rending. Take Michael Dixon, for example. Dixon is an experienced software engineer, and yet he’s been unemployed since September. He’s currently living at a friend’s house, where he spends all day online, looking for jobs.
“It’s kind of like a feeling of ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me,’ and a sense of hopelessness,” said Dixon. “You really, really, truly start to question who you are.”
The unemployment rate is currently 8.1, but as CNN points out, that number is deceptive, because it doesn’t count people who haven’t looked for work recently — or the 115,000 people who will run out of unemployment benefits this summer.
Signs of depression are common in people who are unemployed longer than six months, says psychotherapist Diane Lang. The long-term unemployed are more susceptible to sleep disturbances, and may develop poor eating habits as a result of craving comfort food.
Robert L. Leahy, director of the American Insitiute for Cognitive Therapy, says that being unemployed doubles a person’s chance of having a major depressive episode.
“Being unemployed is actually one of the most difficult, most devastating experiences that people go through,” he said.
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