Jobs provide more than money; they give the days a focus and a structure, they provide social contacts and self-esteem and a role in life. Losing a job is therefore a devastating experience. The person is deprived of identity and status. Few people can fill the vacuum in their lives. Unemployed people frequently do not see themselves as exceptions, victims of quirks of policy, but as deviant, and stigmatized; they suffer from shame and feel they are at fault.
One survey of unemployed in the UK found that half felt they had undergone character changes of some severity. The main deterioration due to anxiety and depression usually occurs in the first three months, and the strain is almost as great for the spouse, and also affects the children. Unemployment, house repossessions and mounting debts have a direct effect on family life with many more arguments and increasing domestic violence. Middle-aged and professional people facing unemployment for the first time find the experience traumatic, faced with decisions about whether to sell the house or take the children out of private schools; even worse, they may recognize that their marriage was only sustained by a lifestyle which has now vanished. An Edinburgh study has shown that the risk of parasuicide (deliberate self-harm including attempted suicide) is 11 times greater among men out of work for more than a year. 60% of a sample of 3,000 unemployed in the UK were suffering from depression and 61% finding visiting unemployment benefit offices a humiliating experience. 81% said they hardly went out and 7% had stopped making love since losing their job. Over 70% said friends and family had been supportive and that people did not see them as lazy.