Main mental effects of being unemployed

Unemployment is a situation that brings malaise in most cases. What are its consequences for mental health?

Written and verified by the psychologist Montse Armero on October 20, 2021.

Last update: October 20, 2021

Being unemployed it is a situation that many people experience throughout their lives. This happens both the first time you look for a job and when you lose your job due to various circumstances. What are its effects on mental health?

Well, although many overlook it, this state causes changes that are not always easy to assume. It is not just about stopping attending a job and not receiving an economic benefit, but about an emotional impact that can extend to the physical and social.

And it is that, often, we find it difficult to cope well with changes, especially when they have a negative connotation. Thus, It is important to know what the effects of being unemployed are and what to do to better manage it. We will detail it below.

Mental effects of being unemployed

Unemployment is a condition that can have consequences on a physical and mental level. However, these do not affect everyone equally, since everything depends on the circumstances of each person. In any case, some of its effects on mental health are as follows.

Vital dissatisfaction

To have a job it tends to elicit a sense of satisfaction in most people. This may be because it is a source of income, because it is the way to achieve professionally, because it reinforces the identity or because of a mixture of all this.

In the case of unemployment, the feeling is the opposite. In other words, life dissatisfaction increases considerably, since this important area is incomplete.

The emotional and mental consequences of unemployment are varied. Without proper management, it can lead to depression.


One of the most frequent emotions when being unemployed is frustration, which is closely linked to dissatisfaction. This increases when presenting several job interviews and not being chosen in any. It also gets worse as time passes and the jobs that come up don’t fit the bill.

Loss of confidence

Unemployment can affect self-esteem in a very important way, especially when it lasts over time. Spending many months or years unemployed can lead to biased thinking that leads us to believe that we are not valid enough.

Lack of habits

When a person has been unemployed for a long time, their routines may be very different than when they were working. In the end, going to work is a way to structure the day, since time revolves around what we do both before and after work.

Being unemployed can cause us to put aside our routine and make our life more disorganized.


If the person has been unemployed for a long time, they may have a feeling of invisibility – as if it were not important for society – because it is not an active part, at least at the work level. This feeling can lead to social isolation, embarrassment, or depressive symptoms.


Of course, lack of employment becomes a major source of stress, especially when there are family burdens and expenses that cannot wait. In turn, this manifests itself with symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, weight gain or loss, depression, and so on.

Health problems

As a consequence of stress, especially if it becomes chronic, physical health problems appear. In particular, the immune system is weakened and the risk of disease increases. Thus, not only infectious conditions can occur, but also cardiovascular, inflammatory, among others.

How to manage the emotions of being unemployed?

Being unemployed is a transitory situation and does not have to be prolonged in time. However, on many occasions, the new job can take much longer to arrive than expected.

Thus, a proactive mindset becomes essential to better cope with the situation. Here are some useful tips for these cases.

  • Analyze the situation rationally. This allows you to have a real idea of ​​the situation.
  • Ask if it is convenient to work on the same. Sometimes, at the moment, it is not the best option. Perhaps it is time to redirect job options to other areas.
  • Maintain a proactive attitude. Work will not come if it is not sought. It is good to spend several hours a day looking for work, as if it were a working day.
  • Reinforce skills. While finding a job, it’s good to spend the time building job skills. Maybe taking a course or learning something new will be an advantage later on.
  • Accept emotions, no matter how uncomfortable they are. However, it is not that these are the protagonists of the decisions.
  • Talk about concerns with those close to you. Feeling supported by friends and family helps reduce stress.
  • Practice gratitude. This habit helps to better manage emotions. It is good to keep in mind everything that you currently have.
Sometimes managing the unemployment situation gets out of hand. If so, it is best to seek professional help.

When to seek help for being unemployed?

Being unemployed is initially a neutral situation, since each one lives it in a different way. There are those who take advantage of this time to train in a new profession, for example. There are also those who are grateful for having that time to spend more with their family.

However, for some it is a cause for discomfort and concern. If these emotions are too intense, they can negatively influence other areas. Therefore, if unemployment overflows mentally, it is best to seek professional help.

From the outset, it is convenient to seek employment advice. Often, Both in towns and cities there are specialized job search centers. There they can provide guidance on how to improve the curriculum or how to enhance the skills to get the expected job.

On the other hand, do not neglect mental health. If the emotions linked to unemployment are very strong, a psychologist can provide the necessary tools to better manage the current situation.

Do not ignore that To find a good job it is also key to enjoy emotional well-being. Thus, if the situation has already gotten out of hand, the intervention of a professional is decisive to refocus and make the right decisions.

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