Content Warning: This article contains descriptions and images related to anxiety and depression that may be triggering for some readers.
Post-graduation depression is defined by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) as “depression in young adults [that] often occurs right after they complete university coursework, often due to pressure to get a job right away or sadness leaving their college peers and life behind.”
These facets of graduation, coupled with the fact college graduates have spent most of their lives in a school setting, gives many a feeling of uncertainty post-college that can manifest itself in different ways. Some symptoms of post-graduation depression, according to SNHU, can be loneliness, sadness, decreased motivation, disorganization and a sense of hopelessness.
However, there are ways to prevent or mitigate the effects of the shock that can cause post-graduation depression. Here are some factors graduates should take into consideration.
Stay connected, but branch out
One way to make the transition from college to the professional world easier is to stay connected with friends and family. Reach out for emotional support, even if you can’t see people regularly. A weekly phone call, text or video chat can make all the difference. However, you shouldn’t rely entirely on the friends you made in college — just as college is a new chapter after high school, your time after graduation is a new chapter after college. Make new connections and forge friendships with other people.
Plan ahead and set achievable goals
Students should begin considering their post-graduation career goals or higher education goals before they graduate. If you plan to enter the workforce after graduation, start looking into your job options and secure employment before the summer begins. If you plan to pursue graduate school, research schools and apply before application deadlines. No matter your goal, explore housing options depending on where you would like to live after graduation or where your job will be taking you. Students can set small, achievable goals each day — accomplishing little by little leading up to graduation.
Try to manage your stress and anxiety
Stress management and self-care can be anything from exercising daily to eating nutritious food to simply making sure you get enough sleep. Meditation, breathing exercises and other activities can be used to slow down your brain and ease your anxiety, too. When your mind is relaxed, it’s much easier to create a list of things you need to do and prioritize.
Reach out for help if you need it
It’s also important to realize when and if you need outside help. If your anxiety, stress or depression noticeably impact your life, it’s possible you might benefit from professional advice. Seek out therapists, counselors or other professionals in your area through sites like Psychology Today or GoodTherapy. If you’re having a mental crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to talk to a trained crisis worker.
Sources: Southern New Hampshire University, WebMD