Learning to Cope with Post-Grad Depression

Updated: Feb 1, 2019

By Michele Salinas

After the excitement of graduation starts to dim down, settling into the calmer, homework-free life is a different experience for everyone. Often times recent graduates can find themselves struggling to transition from the comfort of their college life to the “adult world” and end up experiencing post-graduation depression. You're not alone.  Just last year the Washington Post ran an article addressing this underreported issue that is more and more common among millennials who have the highest rates of anxiety and depression of any past generation. The Post describes post-graduation depression as “commonly used to describe extreme sadness and impaired functioning that recent grads report after they leave behind the world they created in college.” Some of the most common symptoms of post-grad depression include:

  • Having a negative perspective on life, feeling like nothing is going to work in your favor and your own success is unachievable.

  • Oversleeping, finding yourself sleeping an extreme amount of hours and always finding yourself wanting to sleep. Also, having no motivation to get out of bed even after the excess amount of sleep.

  • Feeling hopeless, like there’s nothing you can do to achieve your goals no matter how hard you try. Feeling discouraged in everything you do.

Occasional substance abuse, avoiding acknowledgment of feelings by abusing drugs.Something that I feel adds to post-grad depression is the high expectation family members place on graduates. As the first in my family to receive a college diploma, I feel so much is expected of me and if I don’t accomplish what’s hoped of me, I’ll be a disappointment. While looking up information on post-grad depression, I noticed there was very little on the subject. Finding statistics of how many graduates experience it was nearly impossible but talking to friends who graduated a couple years back, I realize I know a lot of people who have experienced it.  There are also countless YouTubers and blog posts about people who have gone through the ‘post-grad blues.'   Post-grad depression is not uncommon and it is not something to be ashamed of. For those who went away for college, you may go from being completely independent to having to move back to your parents and abide by their rules once again while you get on your feet. You may often fear not finding the job in the field you had hoped or worse: not finding a job at all.Feeling like everything is crumbling because nothing is going as planned can lead to post-graduate depression. Having a plan for post-grad is expected of us, but more often than not, it doesn’t pan out the way we had hoped—and that’s okay. I’ve always been a firm believer than everything will happen as it’s supposed to and that goes for my post-grad plans as well. It’s okay for things to start out a little shaky, just as long as you keep fighting.  So, how do you get out of it? Here's some starting points:  ONE: Constantly remind yourself things will get better.

Just because you might not be in a great place at the moment does not mean things will stay this way forever. This doesn’t just go for post-grad depression, it goes for any moment. Things don’t ever stay bad forever. TWO: Log off.

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people, and feeling bad when you see all their success. It's important to keep in mind that social media is not a real portrayal of people's lives. But, while you are trying to find your way after college, try to avoid social media and focus on things you enjoy doing. THREE: Attempt to relearn yourself and explore your passions.

Doing things that you enjoyed doing while in college can help transitioning into your new life. Bringing a little bit of college-comfort to your current lifestyle can help you ease into your adult life. FOUR: Find a professional to help you through your lows. 

There is nothing better than getting information from someone who knows more than you do on a topic. It’s most important to not be ashamed of your struggles and allow yourself to get the professional help you need to get better in the healthiest way possible. FIVE: Know you aren't alone in this.

Even though post-graduation depression isn’t studied as much, there are tons of graduates suffering as well. Going from college life to the “real world” is difficult for everyone and is a change we all have to experience.   We all need a little reassurance that it’s okay to not have it all together. Everyone’s journey moves at a different pace so just because the people around you may seemingly have it together while you’re still living in your parents house doesn’t mean you’re not going to find success in whatever you do. Also, just because things seem perfect today, you never know what tomorrow may bring.   Experiencing post-grad depression isn’t easy and may feel like it’s something you’ll be experiencing forever. Remind yourself that better days and greater successes are coming. Do you struggle with post-grad depression? What have you done to get help? Let us know in the comments below! 

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