Post-college depression (+What it is and how to deal)

This article will discuss the concept of post-college depression. It will explain what it is, how it manifests itself, and what are ways people can cope with post-college depression.

What is post-college depression? 

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Post-college depression is the feeling of sadness, loneliness, and distress a person might experience after they are done with college. It can happen because they feel as if they are not doing as well as they imagined, or when compared to their friends from college. 

As you adjust to this new moment in life, it might be common to develop some sort of anxiety or even a depressed mood, but this is usually a fleeting situation. But to some people, dealing with this new moment can lead to an actual mental health issue. Let’s discuss what can cause people to develop post-college depression.

What causes post-college depression?

Post-college depression can be caused by some factors. It could be that you had the idea that post-college life would be different than what it is at the moment. People usually have high expectations of how they think their life will be after graduating, and reality tends to be different from that.

That is because you are usually under a lot of pressure after you graduate. That pressure can come from yourself or others. After years in the making, it can start to seem like, after this big achievement, the next step should be even bigger. 

This is common when you are the first person to get a college degree in your family, and even though people around might be just asking what is next, this small talk can pile up on you.

Graduating from college can often seem like the start of adulthood. You are no longer a student and can feel your teenage years are gone. Now you feel like you need to take care of yourself, and this can bring a lot of angst, which can lead to post-college depression. 

There is also a huge change in your social life after you graduate from college. You and your friends might relocate for your first job opportunities, and that busy social schedule from the college years is gone. You will also be away from your family, and all of this can cause you to feel isolated and alone. 

What are the main signs of post-college depression? 

Post-college depression can manifest for many reasons. But now let’s understand what are the main symptoms of it, and what it can cause you to feel. 

Post-college depression can cause you to feel uncomfortable about yourself, even though you are not able to determine why. It can also cause you to feel unmotivated, stuck, without knowing how to move forward from where you are. All of this can make you feel guilty, unworthy, and as if you are a disappointment to people around you.

After you graduate, you will start a new career. And while doing that, you can feel extremely unsupported. That is because the new professional path is a more responsible one. People will demand more of you, which can be a lot at this point. 

On the other hand, you can be angry with yourself if you feel you haven’t done enough. Along with the loneliness and isolation from your friends and family. 

When you develop post-college depression you can also feel more irritable, or your mood swings can become frequent. And at times you can feel overwhelmed, and even exhausted. 

Along with this, your body can manifest some signs of post-college depression. You can start to have trouble sleeping, maybe even cry more often. Your eating pattern and sex drive can change, and you might start to feel headaches and nausea.

How can I cope with post-college depression?

People dealing with post-college depression may try to cope with it by spending too many hours gaming, or on social media. They can start to overeat in an unhealthy manner, or even turn to alcohol or drugs to feel better. And even though those can make you feel better at first, they can make your condition worse.

To cope with post-college depression, you might want to first accept how you feel. Even though you can assume it is important to just go and do things, this might mean you are avoiding dealing with what is going on. 

Try to embrace your feelings and don’t feel guilty about them. Know that this is a confusing period in life, and little by little you will be able to get your life on track.

To do that, try to set some healthy habits for yourself, eat well, and exercise. This will make it easier to deal with post-college depression symptoms. Another way to cope with it is by staying in touch with friends and family for emotional support.

You will go through many experiences after you graduate, and be open to making new connections. It can be your new job, or at places where you practice your hobbies, for example. 

Keeping doing things you love will go a long way with post-college depression. It will give you a sense of purpose, that will help deal with the negative feelings.

You might get anxious about what the future holds for you, but at this moment, practicing mindfulness will help you not go down that road. It will help your mind rest, and focus on the right here and right now, and how you respond to what is happening.

As you try to understand what are your next steps in life, try to set some small goals. It can be to keep studying a foreign language or send 3 resumés a day. But try to find ways to feel like you are moving towards your goals, without being overwhelmed by them.

But if you ever notice your post-college depression is taking too long to pass, and it seems like adjusting to the life you have now is impossible, it might be time to look for professional help. 

That is important because, sometimes, this change in your life can be seen as a traumatic event, and that can lead to a more serious depressive episode, which can even lead to suicidal thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What is post-college depression?

Does life only get worse after college? 

No, life doesn’t only get worse after college. After college, a lot will change. You might start a career, or move to a new place, and that can make you nervous because of all the responsibility. But that can also be exciting. 

You will continue to learn and develop yourself and may meet a lot of new people. It will also give you a lot of freedom. Since you will work and maintain yourself, this is the time in which you are also free to choose what you want to do.

As soon as you allow yourself to see that each period of your life has its joys, but also its pains, you will understand how happiness is not necessarily in high school, or college, or your work life, but rather inside yourself and the experiences you go through.

What are the most common symptoms of depression? 

Depression can manifest itself differently in each person. But it usually causes people to feel intense sadness, not only that, the person may lose interest in things they used to love, and also lose their ability to focus.

Depression causes people to have low self-esteem and a decreased sense of self-worth. They can feel like the energy has been taken out of them, and their eating and sleeping patterns are altered. 

It also causes people to become more irritable, fatigued, and guilty. People with depression tend to isolate themselves, and can cry a lot more. Not only that, but they can also consider self-harm, and at some point might even have thoughts of death and suicidal thoughts. 

What are suicidal thoughts? 

Suicidal thoughts are thoughts people may have in which they consider ending their life. There are two levels of suicidal thoughts. The first stage is when a person has fleeting thoughts about it. It can come at a moment in their day, or even if they are going through a mental health disorder.

But those usually don’t stick. The same way they came, they can leave your mind. Differently from that one, there is a more persistent suicidal thought, and this is the more dangerous type. In it, the person may start to consider suicide as a way out and may start to plan it.

When this is happening, the person may start to isolate themselves more. They can start saying goodbye to people around them and give away their belongings. Aside from that, they can become more agitated and irritable. If you notice someone is going through this, it might be important to not leave them alone and look for help.

Does post-college depression have a cure? 

Post-college depression is usually a fleeting event. It is your reaction to ending a period of your life, and it can get better as soon as you adjust to the life you will have from that moment on.

As soon as you start to create a new life, you will be able to notice that post-college depression will decrease to a point that it disappears. But this might not be true for everyone. Some people, if they have a history of depressive episodes, can observe that their post-college depression is more intense.

In those cases, the mix of depressive disorder and post-college depression can make the person less resilient and flexible to deal with the changes that the end of college will put their way. If that is what you are going through, it might be important to look for professional help.

How to know what to do after college?

After you finish college you might feel lost and not know what to do. The first thing to do is to trace a short-term plan. Understand if you are interested in working in the line you majored in, and how you can make it happen.

If you have a teacher or a mentor, try to discuss with them what is the best way to go. If you should start to send CVs, or if a master’s or grad school is better for you at the time. Try to stick to the first steps, and little by little you will get the hang of life after college.

Conclusion

This article explained what is post-college depression, what can cause it, and what are signs you are going through it. Along with that, the article explained are ways you can cope with post-college depression.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.

References

https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/what-does-ketamine-do-your-brain
https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/newsroom/health/post-graduate-depression

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