What to Do If Your Job Search Is Making You Depressed

Searching for a job can be challenging and exasperating, but as long as they can see light at the end of the tunnel, many people manage to stay fairly positive about the process.
For some job seekers, however, the difficulties of the hunt can push them into depression. It’s a more common problem than you may think, and several factors play into it.
A loss of control over one’s life can be a primary trigger for depression, especially if a person was in the same job for several years prior to becoming unemployed, according to an article from Workopolis. Other factors that may cause an emotional slide include feelings of uncertainty, shame, or embarrassment, as well as the rejection that comes from failed attempts at landing a new position.
Then there’s the challenge of making ends meet when you’re out of work. “Even though a person’s employment may have ended, their bills and everyday expenses aren’t put on hold,” says an article from Career Pivot. “Dealing with paying bills, maintaining a roof over one’s head, and putting food on the table can be a burden that weighs heavily on an individual during a period of unemployment. If they aren’t able to manage themselves financially, their feelings of self-worth may be severely diminished, leading to depression and anxiety, among other feelings.”
Considering all of this, it’s easy to see why some job hunters end up depressed. If you find yourself in this situation, consider seeking professional help. A few meetings with a counselor could provide valuable insights into your situation and tools to help you through it.
In addition to counseling, here are a few other ideas to help you avoid or overcome the depression that may accompany a job search.

Talk to people.

As their job searches drag on and their feelings of embarrassment grow, some people withdraw from their social networks. However, you need those connections now more than ever. Make a point of communicating with family members and trusted friends. Let them know how you’re feeling. Keeping human contact and real communication in your life can help you find new emotional strength during a difficult time.

Establish a new routine.

If you’re feeling powerless or like you suddenly have no control, getting organized and maintaining a routine might help. Make a daily to-do list related to your job search, outlining tasks the same way you did while you were employed. Keep a journal of your activities. Consider your hunt for employment to be your new job, and approach it with the same energy, using problem-solving skills you’ve developed at work. By taking control over the search, you’ll feel more in control of your life.

Increase your networking.

Unlike your friends and family members, you’re probably not going to talk to people at networking events about your feelings of depression. However, just getting out there and talking to other professionals about your skills could provide a boost to your self-esteem and mood. Again, this is a time for more interaction and human contact, not less, so move out of your comfort zone and make those connections.

Maintain positivity and balance.

This advice comes from a CIO article, which says, “Try and stay positive as much as possible … and remember to maintain a good balance between work and life, just as you would with any other full-time job. Regular exercise, volunteer work, spending quality time with friends and family in addition to networking and making career connections can help keep your spirits up.”

Get moving.

Don’t underestimate the power of exercise. “The endorphins released during exercise help to relieve stress and pump up a person’s mood,” says the Career Pivot article. “So, when the feelings of stress or depression start to loom overhead, getting in some physical activity can help nip them from the start.”

Manage your triggers.

You know what kinds of events are likely to lead to a darkening emotional state, so use that knowledge to help stave off depression. “For example, maybe you’re sent into a tailspin of uncertainty when you don’t hear back right away after an interview,” says an article from The Muse. “The longer you experience the silence, the less motivation you have to continue your search—and you might even self-sabotage by canceling other interviews. If you can identify situations or people that trigger your frustration, you can anticipate your reaction and create emotional buffers to help you cope better. For instance, you could ask your interviewer directly when you can expect to hear back—which can lessen the impact of that trigger.”

Consider giving yourself a break.

If you can’t handle the thought of pushing through one more interview or reading yet another rejection email, maybe it’s time to take a few days off from your job search. Yes, you feel urgency to get a new job, but chances are you’ll do much better at the next interview if you’re in a better mental state. Give yourself permission to relax for a few days. Consider it a mini-vacation from your new job of job seeking.

Take care of yourself and persevere.

There really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Give yourself time, be patient, and practice meaningful self-care. “Job searching is all about endurance and mental fortitude,” says an article from Medium. “Brush off the rejections and keep applying!”
And remember, you should always contact a professional counselor for help in dealing with your depression. Your mental health is vital to all parts of your life, and you shouldn’t ignore it, even if you are worried about trying to find a job.