Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for April 19th, 2010

Unemployment Depression

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 19, 2010


   Unemployment challenges the brain. In my earlier post, I spoke about the betrayal Today, I am struck by the downward spiral. Jess, a sixty-one year old hispanic male, was laid off from his technology job which he had for the past ten years. He knew it was coming. They gave him a severance. He began looking for new jobs, but he feels despair. He thinks he is  old, and “worn out.” He felt that younger and more energetic people had more to offer, with lower salary requirements. I said, “what about the value of your experience?” He responded with a heavy sigh. He said “to be honest, my experience does not help me that much. The field is changing so fast that the newer technologies are dominating the field, so being up-to-date is more important than experience.” “Yes, ” I say, “but you have stayed current.” He has another long sigh. “Yes, but it is not the same as a new graduate.” As he grows more despairing in this conversation, I can feel his discouragement. He needs to be realistic and hopeful at the same time. He needs to think outside of the box. Maybe he should go back to school. Maybe he should transform one of his hobbies into a new career. Maybe he should volunteer so he can feel useful. I think about all these things, but at the same time, I am aware that his mood interferes with his ability to think creatively. We talk about antidepressants. Jess is of a generation which associates psychotropic medication with major mental illness. He came of age before Prozac. He adamantly refuses and he appears mad at me for suggesting it. I remind him that I am trying to think of things that might  him feel better, so maybe he should consider medication. He understands that, but he still appears to be annoyed. We talk about how he is stuck because his mind is feeding him so many negative thoughts that he cannot move forward. He understands that too. The session ends. I feel for him. He will be back tomorrow.

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