The Challenges of Fighting Depression While Unemployed

The Labor Department says about eight million people in the United States have become unemployed during the recession. Mental health experts say the depression that some people experience after losing their jobs can keep them locked in a vicious cycle — unable to treat their illness effectively enough to land another job.

However, there are resources available in the Houston area to help those with depression get back on their feet, whether they have a job or not.

David Pitman has more..

It’s hard to put an exact number on just how many people become depressed because they’re unemployed.  But several studies in recent years have found those without a job are anywhere from two to four times more likely to experience depression.

“Y’know, you lose your job.  You think ‘well, I’m gonna lose my home, I’m gonna lose my family, I’m gonna lose my identity, I’m gonna lose my career.’  Those type of thoughts will lead to someone having a depressive episode.”

Glenn Urbach is the executive director of the Depression and Bi-Polar Support Alliance of Greater Houston.  He says it can be difficult for those suffering with depression symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability, insomnia, changes in appetite, and a general loss of interest, to realize what’s going on.

“They don’t understand depression, they’ve never had a depressive episode, their family doesn’t understand.  The inability to understand mental illness really is almost the core why people have these depressive episodes.  They don’t look for the warning signs, they don’t know about the warning signs, and they don’t get the help they need.”

Urbach acknowledges one big obstacle in getting help is the loss of health insurance to help pay for anti-depressants and therapy.  He says that’s where groups like the Depression and Bi-Polar Support Alliance come in.

“No one should ever, even if they lose their health insurance, should ever throw their hands up in the air.  There’s always resources out there.  If people can just make a couple of phone call, either to our office, or Mental Health of America, which is a great organization to give people referrals.  There is help out there.”

The DBSA sponsors three dozen weekly support group meetings in the Houston area, all of them free of charge.  Some are lead by people who understand what it’s like to slide into a depressive episode while unemployed. 

“My self-worth was attached to my job.  So once I lost that, I began to feel worthless.”

Carmen, who asked that her last name not be used, leads a support group in Westchase.  She says her experience in group therapy forced her to think about who she was and how she was worth something in a way that wasn’t tied to her job.  She says that approach can work for others.

“And you may come out on the other end a different person, a better person with a better, clearer perspective of who you are.  And that’s a form of success.”

For other agencies that offer mental health assistance for little or no cost, visit the websites of the Adult Mental Health Services Provided by Harris County, Baylor Psychiatry Clinic, and UT Heath Science Center, Harris County Psychiatric Center.


David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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