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Most People Regain Happiness After Job Loss
Date:12/21/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- As million of workers have discovered in recent years, losing a job is upsetting and unsettling and can reduce even the most stoic to tears.

But buck up. About a year later, the majority of people have shaken off the unemployment blues and have returned to their previous levels of happiness, a new study reveals.

That runs counter to earlier studies that have suggested job loss is so devastating that most people never fully recovery emotionally, said Isaac Galatzer-Levy, a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and the study's lead author.

"We know a certain subset of the population responds badly to difficult events, whether it's trauma, bereavement or job loss, but it's way less people than we used to think," Galatzer-Levy said. "Most people bounce back just fine. Most people are psychologically resilient. If we were a species that fell apart every time something bad happened to us, we wouldn't get very far."

For the study, published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, the researchers looked at data on 774 Germans who'd lost their jobs between the late 1980s and 2003. Most had lost jobs during a late 1980s economic downturn, during which mass layoffs were common, Galatzer-Levy said. The data had information on the workers' happiness levels in the several years leading up to the layoff and several years after.

Participants were asked, "How satisfied are you nowadays with your life as a whole?"

About 69 percent of respondents reported being less happy after losing their job, but by one year out, they had recovered their earlier levels of happiness.

For this group, the temporary dip in unhappiness actually began in the years leading up to the layoff. "They may have been able to see it coming, and it had a negative impact on them," Galatzer-Lev
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