Am I Depressed about My Job Search?

You've been laid off or lost your job for any number of reasons and the job search is not going well. Now what do you do?

The economy is down and the job pool has appeared to dry up. Most people feel helpless and out of control. These are just a couple of the first signs of the onset of job search depression. According to Webster's Dictionary, depression is "a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies" ( To understand job search depression further, we must first consider the causes. There are approximately 15 known causes, the most significant include: insignificance from the lack of replies, strain of managing personal finances, and unemployment embarrassment. "It is the crises that follow job loss that are more damaging than the loss itself," says study author Dr. Richard H. Price of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. (Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 2002;7:302-312)

Why should you worry about job search depression? You could be your own worst enemy. The negative thoughts and resulting procrastination can sabotage even the most effective job search. Have you ever thought "I can wait till tomorrow to follow up on that job, or I don't have time, maybe I will check on that lead next week?" You could be in the first stages.

How do you know if you are experiencing job search depression? As stated before, the initial symptoms are helplessness and loss of control. Other symptoms, as described by the University of Florida (, include:

  1. Sadness, depressed mood, crying over seemingly minor setbacks
  2. Increased irritability, crankiness, difficulty being satisfied
  3. More easily frustrated, gives up quickly after initial failures
  4. Poor self-concept, low self-esteem, reluctance toward attempting endeavors
  5. Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  6. Changes in appetite (decreased appetite most common) often signaled by rapid weight gain or loss.
  7. Changes in sleep patterns (not enough or too much sleep)
  8. Slowed, inhibited actions (slow, soft speech; slowed body movements).
  9. Fatigue, loss of pep and energy
  10. Poor concentration, attention and/or memory.
  11. Thoughts or words about death or suicide.
  12. Motivation loss
  13. Wonder if a job will ever be found.

You must experience at least five of these symptoms continuously for at least a continuous 2 weeks, to be considered major depression. Job search depression is a real issue and the ability to recognize the symptoms is the first step in prevention.

Prevention of job search depression is a very important undertaking for any job seeker. As you probably know and have experienced, the trail to finding a job is like a high speed roller coaster with many peaks and valleys. The peaks are the high points where significant progress is being made and it makes us feel good and like something is being achieved. The valleys are low points, which consist of events that make us feel insignificant and let down, such as not getting the job after a good interview. As time goes by, the peaks and valleys become more prominent and more susceptible to job search depression. There are several steps to prevention.

  1. Share your experience with others, with your friends and family, with a local support group, or online.
  2. Educate yourself; read a book such as Listening to Depression.
  3. Take a day or two to reset your mind.
  4. Practice meditation and relaxation.
  5. Visit a counselor; sometimes just one or two visits can make quite a difference.

Knowing yourself is the most important part of beating job search depression. You know what works best for you in keeping your spirits high and focused on the ultimate goal "A JOB." If you feel you're spinning out of control, then please seek professional help. Your health is important to you and your family, so do not take it lightly.

Finally, why should you worry about job search depression? You have more than yourself to think about. There are others in your life that are willing to help you. You are not alone. Take responsibility for your happiness and reward yourself for small successes along the job search path. Not only will this stave off depression, but it will allow continued focus and determination.

Good Job Hunting….

Guest Expert:

Joe Chandler is a Marketing Consultant with experience in education, customer service, and business and consumer electronics. Joe has over 20 years in corporate America and education, with an MBA-Marketing. He is a Navy Veteran trained in Nuclear Power Plant operation. His passions include: History, Politics, Football, Baseball, and Family. Check out his blog at and his profile at