Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Surviving layoffs can be as stressful as losing job

In industries where pink slips are being passed out with abandon, the still-employed survivors are getting pretty bummed out.

Even Christopher Ruhm, an economist known for arguing that recessions are good for physical health, draws the line at hard times being good for mental health.

"I'm not claiming that people are mentally healthier during bad times," says Ruhm, professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. "It's quite possible that mental and physical health go in opposite directions. What I'd say is that in bad times, people are healthier, but not necessarily happier."

A 2001 report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine reviewed studies looking specifically at mental health and job insecurity — as opposed to outright unemployment. It found that job insecurity is a chronic stressor that leads to depression and anxiety.

"If people are threatened with losing their jobs, they report feeling bad. It ranges from demoralization to depression to more serious things," says C. David Dooley, chairman of the department of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and author of The Social Costs of Underemployment.

That includes those still marching to their cubicles after a company downsizes.

"The employment survivors are worse off as well," Dooley says. "They may be feeling survivor's guilt. Or they're overworked. Often, companies make the survivors do the work of everyone who used to work there." In fact, he's found, the rate of depression among layoff survivors matches that of their former co-workers.

According to Dooley's research, job stress, underemployment and unemployment all can affect mental health.

Anxiety over a downturn in the economy often doesn't have much to do with actual income, says Randi Riffkind, a Los Angeles psychologist. "It's their attitude that's the determining factor in how much stress they feel," she says.

So, if you find yourself spiraling down into gloom and doom, try to make yourself stop, Riffkind says. "Notice the thoughts and then consciously turn the message around. Not a Pollyanna kind of thing, but something realistic, like, 'I've been through difficult times before, and I'll get through this.' "

Surviving layoffs can be as stressful as losing job 09/15/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 5:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Los Angeles Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. Today, a total eclipse of the sun will span the entire United States, crossing from the West Coast to the East Coast, for the first time in 99 years. (Dreamstime/TNS)
  3. What is poke? Here's how to make the Hawaiian dish at home

    Cooking

    In Hawaiian, "poke" simply means "to cut."

    Tuna Poke Bowl: For a classic poke bowl, try this recipe with ahi (yellowfin) and only a few other ingredients.
  4. MOSI, SPC, libraries offer safe solar eclipse viewing Monday

    Events

    If you couldn't score some of the hard-to-find eyewear that will let you watch Monday's solar eclipse, have no fear, there are safe viewing choices across the Tampa Bay area.

    Twin Falls High School science teachers Ashley Moretti, left, and Candace Wright, right, use their eclipse shades to look at the sun as they pose for a portrait at Twin Falls High School in Twin Falls, Idaho. The district bought 11,000 pairs of solar glasses, enough for every student and staff member to view the solar eclipse Aug. 21

(Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)
  5. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone

    Macdill

    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?