Aldi construction site on Gladstone Road, Rockhampton.
Aldi construction site on Gladstone Road, Rockhampton. Chris Ison ROK280318caldi6

The health consequences of unexpected job loss

A Rockhampton doctor has written about the steps people can take to care for themselves in the wake of unexpected job loss.

Gareth Daniels, Regional Adversity Integrated Care Clinician

Central Queensland Hospital & Health Service, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Service

For many people the loss of their job through no actions of their own can be a devastating event. During this time, it is normal to experience a range of emotional reactions which may include shock, distress, guilt, sadness, anger, worthlessness, powerlessness and helplessness. This distress will decrease or disappear for many people with time.

Common reactions include:

  • Problems getting to sleep or staying asleep,
  • Appetite loss,
  • Muscle tension or pain,
  • Tiredness and fatigue,
  • Feeling overwhelmed, anxious or fearful,
  • Feeling frustrated, irritable, angry, intolerant,
  • Forgetfulness or vagueness,
  • Withdrawing from others and not socialising as much,
  • Embarrassment and guilt,
  • Lowered sex drive,
  • Loss of direction.

Grief is a common response to losing your job and you may experience:

  • Shock and numbness,
  • Disbelief - "It can't be true"
  • A sense of loss - not only for the job and finances, but also future plans and dreams,
  • Confusion - "Why me?"
  • Anger - a common reaction when you feel you have no control,
  • Feeling overwhelmed,
  • Guilt - "I've let everyone down",
  • Feeling alone, disconnected and isolated.

These reactions to job loss are common and normal. However, it is important to seek help if you are going through:

  • An inability to do your usual daily activities,
  • Severe and persistent emotional reactions,
  • Using alcohol or other substances more than previously,
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

If you are encountering any of these reactions it is important for you to gain help. Speak with your GP, call Lifeline (13 11 14), or call the Mental Health Services (1300 MHCALL / 1300 64 22 55). You can also find the links to a range of Australian digital mental health resources and online support services.