3 Ways Unemployment Can Affect Health (And Ways To Fix It!)

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Authors: Dr Arun Mahthani, Dr Vivek Baliga

Did you know that unemployment can affect health?

The recent years have seen a major shift in employment rates in India, with large multi-national corporations laying off talented individuals for reasons that are often either unclear or purely to save money.

Many of us weigh our degree of success in life based on how well we are doing at work and what position we have attained (though it is clearly just more than that!), and a bruised ego due to the loss of a job can have dramatic effects on our health.

Being unemployed is no doubt stressful, and primary breadwinners who support entire families can have a very tough time until they secure their next job. But mental stress is not all that can happen; unemployment can affect health in general.

The scope of the problem

You may be surprised to hear that unemployment rates have actually reduced in India over the last decade. According to the website tradeeconomics.com, unemployment rates over the last 5 years have reduced from 9.4% in 2010 to 4.9% in 2014.

source: tradingeconomics.com

Despite this decrease and the fact that this percent looks ‘low’, these numbers still represent millions of people in India who do not have jobs.

3 ways being unemployed can affect health

Being unemployed could be one of the most difficult times of your life, but worse of all it can affect your health in ways you cannot imagine. From just mental stress to heart disease and high blood pressure, the effects of sitting at home jobless can take it’s toll on your well being.

Here are 3 ways being without a job can affect your health.

Being unemployed can affect your heart

It may not really surprise you that being out of a job or being made redundant can affect the way your heart functions.

According to one study, the chances of developing a heart attack were significantly higher in those without a job (to the tune of 7.9%). This was particularly high in the first year of unemployment.

Those who had lost 4 or more jobs were 63% more likely to have a heart attack, while those who had lost one job were 22% more likely.

unemployment can affect health

Though the exact reasons are unclear, there could be a number of explanations for this. Firstly, those who have just lost their job are often under a great deal of stress. This stress triggers the need for some form of relaxation – a ‘get-away’ so to speak.

In order to relax, some may take up smoking, and some may start drinking. People with diabetes may abandon their diet and exercise plan. Comfort eating of unhealthy foods may reign the day.

All these factors contribute to the development of heart disease.

Unemployment can cause depression

Numerous studies have shown that being out of a job can take a toll on mental health. Depression, stress, anxiety and low self esteem are well known consequences of being unemployed.

One aspect of development of mental health problems is the attempt to avoid socialising. Those who are out of a job sometimes avoid mingling with new people or even old friends due to the embarrassment that accompanies being unemployed. Some may see their friends and family members who are in steady jobs getting married and settling down, which can sometimes be quite devastating to one’s self esteem.

Another aspect to this is quite interesting. Studies have shown that the longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to keep a job. In fact, many of these individuals lose their jobs within a year. This can yet again affect the mental health of the individual.

Unemployment can lead to obesity

There are a plethora of papers and reports across the globe that confirm that being out of work can increase body weight. There could be a number of reasons for this.

One reason is that those who lose their job immediately start to cut down expenses. One expense is a gym membership, which in turn means stopping exercise. A likely explanation for this is the lack of motivation, which is a consequence not just of not going to the gym, but also depression and stress that accompanies the loss of a job.

While ethically immoral, it is not an unknown fact that sometimes being obese can be a deterrent to getting a job. New employers are worried about health costs that the overweight employee may incur, so may consider hiring someone who they think is less risk for them. Obesity is accompanied by numerous health problems such as back pains, joint pains, indigestion, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which require time of work for treatment. Interestingly, those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more are twice more likely to have these problems.

Not good for someone looking to get hired.

Other associations

There are other ways that being unemployed can affect health.

There is a contradictory association between being unemployed and high alcohol consumption. The available studies are small, and do not accurately reflect the link between the two. One might be led to believe that depression that accompanies being jobless would drive one to start drinking, but it appears that people who have stressful jobs are more likely to drink to relax themselves. unemployment increases crimeFurthermore, being unemployed would mean one is low on funds, and this would make them refrain from purchasing alcohol.

More studies are needed to establish the relationship between the two.

Crime rates are higher among people who are unemployed. In the Western world, it has been well established that being employed reduces crime rate, which is why a number of voluntary programs exist for juvenile offenders.

But there is a catch. Those who work low wage jobs also tend to get involved in crime.

It is clear that being unemployed is not good for your health, or that of others.

Fixing the problem

While unemployment is no doubt a stress and concern, many of us actually have attained skills over the years that could still allow us to earn money from home.

There are in fact some great opportunities that are currently available online where you could sign up, work from home and earn a great living (some earn more than what they would earn in a regular job).

And if you are worried about sustainability long term, not to worry. As long as you grow your skills, there is a lot more you can offer and a lot more you can earn.

Now you may wonder why we have this section on a health related site. Given the health impact that being unemployed can have, we thought it best to list out some options for our readers that can help them beat unemployment (or help others who are in that situation).

After all, HeartSense is all about helping people look after their health, be it physical, mental, social or employment related :).

So if you think this will help, forward this article to a friend or family member!

Here are some simple ways you could work from home and fix that unemployment issue.


Have you heard of Fiverr.com?

Fiverr is a global online marketplace where anyone with even an inkling of talent can post their jobs and earn a living. It was founded by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman in 2009, and is still in it’s growing phase.

make money with fiverrFor each order from a client that is fulfilled, you will earn $5. Now while that might not seem like enough, as you build your reputation and your feedback, you can start to offer additional services and earn up to $100 or even more per order.

Your services, called ‘gigs’, are displayed on the screen when an individual searches for a service.

For example, those that wish to offer business card design services can do so. If you have some idea about website design, you can do that.

Great at writing? Awesome! You can write articles. Love video editing? Yep, you can do that too!!

There are some really weird gigs that also doing very well on this site. For example, there are people who will break up with your boyfriend for you, and some even offer to sing or mimic celebrities as a birthday message.

There is scope to do anything that you wish to earn money from home and be employed.

One advantage of using Fiverr is that you can be anonymous. Not many people would like the world to know what they are doing, but putting a face to your screen name is never a bad idea. People may not want to know your name, but most certainly would like to know what you look like.

One of our doctor friends sent in his earnings from Fiverr in 6 months just from working on it around 4 hours a week. He was an article writer, writing health related articles on a wide variety of topics for clients all over the world.


The amount above may seem small to some (remember, this is just side income), but remember that it takes a while before you can earn the big bucks, as you have to build up a reputation.

Also remember, you could add more gigs to your portfolio and offer more services, so the potential to earn only rises.

And yes, people from India can sign up.

Affiliate Marketing

Did you know you could earn a living by just recommending other people’s products?

This system where you can tell someone about a product online and earn a living by doing so is called affiliate marketing.

Even if you have never heard of this term, you have probably already been a part of affiliate marketing some way or another. For example, if you have been offered a voucher for telling your friends about a new restaurant in town, then you have just been a part of the process.

Basically, you sign up to a site, tell your friends about a product you love (and think they will love), they buy it and you make a commission.


One of the largest affiliate marketing sites in the world is Clickbank. This site offers a ton of digital services ranging from weight loss to business advice and even software. By promoting these products, you can earn a decent commission.

If you have the skills to create your own digital product, then you can even sell it on this site for a nominal fee.

However, affiliate marketing is not that easy (like any other job). It may taste like cake and smell of roses from the outside, but if you want to earn big you have to work. Furthermore, there is always a small investment to be made when starting off in affiliate marketing.

Keep an eye out for our free course for our readers on affiliate marketing and how you need to go about it.


Got the talent to be a master craftsman? Then you can sell your work on Etsy.

Etsy is a ‘vibrant global community that has 30 million buyers’. It is free to sign up and easy to open your own shop.


Just list your items that you can sell online, and you can start earning from the comfort of your own home.

You can sell anything, from handmade jewellery to woven hand garments and even your old goods from home.


If you have the skill to write and put words down on paper reasonably elegantly, they you may have a shot at earning a living by being a ‘ghost writer’.

Ghost writing is now becoming popular for one main reason – people want to write their own books or create their own web content, but can’t do so as they just don’t know how to.

This is where those with a flair for writing come in.

We have previously mentioned Fiverr to you, but there are other sites like Elance, Guru and Upwork that offer similar services as well.

Just sign up for free, enter your skills and services, and sit back and wait for the orders to come in.

Closing Remarks

Unemployment in India is an active problem, and is causing a great deal of stress; both physical and mental. There is no doubt that being unemployed can affect health drastically.

There are solutions available, though they do require a degree of investment. Either way, if one is unemployed, actively seeking out a job and not losing hope is very important.

While doing so, make sure you take care of your health as well.

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Dr Vivek Baliga B
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