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With the economy struggling and many people being laid of from jobs they once considered secure, it is unsurprising that more and more people want to learn how to prevent job loss depression. While this is natural, it is important to realize that feeling depressed about losing your job, just like depression about any unwanted change in life, is also perfectly natural.
If you know the following stages of depression that go along with the loss of a job, you will be better able to identify feelings that are out of the ordinary, and also to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Stage 1: Shock
Sometimes called denial, this is the initial "I-can't-believe-it" feeling. This can happen even if you received advanced notice of your dismissal, and may be accompanied by a feeling of calm. This calmness arises from no longer wondering whether you'll be able to hang onto your job, and tends to occur more in environments where rumors circulate that layoffs are coming. Of the four stages, this one probably varies the most from person to person.
Coping strategies: Let the shock sink in. It may seem counter-intuitive, but denying the emotions will only make the event seem more shocking.
Stage 2: Anger
Unhappiness with one's job is one of the most common complaints among Americans, yet few wish to leave a job unless it's on their terms. Being let go can leave a huge bruise on your ego, and it can lead to questions of "Was I just not good enough?" or "What if I had just tried harder?" At some point, this will gel together as a powerful anger and resentment toward managers, directors, co-workers—everyone, really.
Coping strategies: Let it all out. Venting your anger is a crucial part of overcoming it. When you repress it, you cause it turn inward, and it can lead to self-hatred. Find someone to talk with about your feelings of betrayal. Just be sure not to burn any bridges by exploding at former colleagues. That can come back to bite you.
Stage 3: Sadness
This is the point where you really begin to feel depressed. You may break down into tears for no reason. The change in routine may leave you feeling lost or uprooted. Even seeing others go about their own lives may fill you with self-pity.
Coping strategies: Don't wallow in it, but allow yourself to cry. As with the other stages, this is a natural part of coming to grips with bad news. If it becomes too much, seek professional help or a support group who can offer suggestions to get you through the darkest days.
Stage 4: Reality and Acceptance
At a certain point, you will begin to realize that no matter how badly you may feel, there are activities that require your attention; you have to get on with your life. You will experience "relapses" into the prior three stages from time to time, but when they occur, just remind yourself to keep putting one metaphorical foot in front of the other.
Coping strategies: Get organized. As you start to pull yourself together, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the tiny details that seem to rule our lives. Take a few minutes to write down all the obligations that are causing you anxiety and make a plan to tackle a few of them. Take it one day at a time, and things will get better.
Knowing how to prevent job loss depression is less important than knowing how to let yourself experience the natural stages of grief and then move past them. The key is not to be too hard on yourself. Embracing your emotions, the good and bad, means fully experiencing what it is to be human. One day, you will wake up and realize that the world didn't end and that today is just like any other day. Trust that you are strong enough to get through this.
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