What is Post project depression?

In this blog we will discuss what post project depression is.

We will also discuss why post project depression occurs and how you can cope with post project depression. 

What is Post project depression?

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Post-project depression refers to a period of slump, demotivation, and low mood that one experiences after they have wrapped up a project they have been working on for a long time.

It is not the same as clinical depression nor is it a diagnosable condition however it is a layman’s term used by people who experience a common phenomenon that has been termed as post-project depression.

According to Kristin Wong, a writer for Puttylike, post project depression is like “… a void in your work life. You don’t know how to fill the space once reserved for your ambitious undertaking.”

During this time, a person might experience depression that manifest in the form of:

  • ignoring responsibilities
  • avoiding family and friends
  • performing poorly at work due to a lack of focus
  • Fighting and anger 
  • Substance use.
  • Might stay in and sleep in most days 
  • Remain anxious and irritable when interaction with others
  • They might also develop unhealthy diet and sleeping patterns as well. 
  • It is also possible that in severe cases, the person might also develop thoughts of suicide or suicde realted behavior.

Why does Post project depression occur?

Post-project depression typically occurs due to the complete lack of rigid routines that the professional is used to due to their project; leaving them ample time to think and reflect on their lives. 

In most cases, it is at this time where they are able to sit in silence away from the rush of their professional life as professionals that they grow anxious about where they are going and who they are becoming which causes anxiety and ultimately depression. 

To further understand why this is happening you must understand that stress or anxiety is not all a negative thing. There is a certain level of stress and anxiety that is adaptive and which motivates us to take action and survive- it is a genetic mechanism. 

This anxiety that we feel is considered the baseline anxiety which is often minimised when we have a plan around our day to day lives that makes things less uncertain. 

This routine and structure minimises anxiety, hence keeps mental health incheck and prevents depression. 

While work and deadlines can be stressful, the fact that there is a structure and that there is certainty as to what one is going to be doing two hours from now- study or be in class- abates the anxiety that one feels and thus, keeping away any sense of helplessness and hopelessness. 

When the project ends and all the schedules are dropped, and the professional no longer has a framework for their day to day lives, it can leave the person feeling a little out of place. 

The lack of stimuli in their life or the amount of time they are given to think about themselves, their friendships and relationships, and their future can lead a person to feel worried, anxious, and as this aggravate it can lead the person to feel hopeless and helpless. 

This sense of helplessness, feelings of not being prepared enough for work life and the real world etc- that most students feel- and the sense of listlessness and displacement they feel can all aggravate leading to a depressive episode during this time. 

Other possible reasons that cause post-project depression could be because of work-related reasons.

According to Kristin Wong, a writer for Puttylike, post project depression could be because of reasons like:

  • Life post the project didn’t quite look like what you imagined after reaching your goal. 
  • Exhaustion and burnout.
  • Need for rest. 
  • Discomfort with getting what you want
  • You feel undeserving of your achievements 

How to cope with Post project depression?

According to writers at Transition Your Life, Here are some ways you can cope and overcome post project depression:

Celebrate and rest

First, what you can do after a project is complete is to celebrate the success of the project or at the least the fact that you have reached the finished line. 

Celebrate the effort you have made, the achievements you have gained and how much you have learned. 

Now, after you celebrate- go out with friends, go on vacation, throw a party, go on a tour etc- take time to rest. 

Let this time of rest be focused on self care and self love- let it be about you and only you. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

Accept the uncertainty

Getting comfortable with the uncertainty of human existence by accepting the way you feel and the fact that not everything has a definite answer is one of the first steps you can take to deal with this feeling of existential dread. 

The moment you start acknowledging it to be part of your experiences the easier it becomes to accept it. 

Acceptance can help you be less judgemental over yourself about why you might be feeling sad. Instead of beating yourself up for yourself, you can look at the various choices you can make to feel better by taking the time to assess your symptoms and come to grips with it.

Reaffirm values or seek out new set of values 

By taking the time to explore your life and surroundings, to uncover a new set of values that is authentic to yourself. 

This means re-evaluating self beliefs you had about yourself and the world. It may even require you to unlearn some beliefs and re-learn new beliefs that are realistic and compassionate to your limitations as a human being. 

This will involve mindful attention to your thoughts and your beliefs in regards to everyone around you, the world and its systems, and yourself. 

Go out and Actively seek positive experiences

According to positive psychology research, positive feelings are an important aspect of well-being. 

For a person to engage in activities and other experiences that help them feel positive feelings such as love, belongingness, achievement, and a sense of hope is important.

Even if you do not want to, even if your body is refusing to- take that chance for yourself and choose to do something that makes you feel less miserable. 

Maintain a routine

Even if you are on a break, set up your day in such a way that it is close to your daily routine when you were in college. 

This means getting up at the same time, eating healthy meals, and instead of going to class, fill the day with things that bring you joy.

This could be as simple as watching a movie, petting your cat, taking your dog for a walk, eating ice cream. Do what makes you happy without judging yourself for these choices.

Towards the end of the day make sure that your routine includes a winddown period where you prep yourself with a healthy sleep routine that helps you relax like warm baths and reading.


Plan a new project

Give yourself time to plan a new project, ask yourself what comes next for you and what ideas you would like to explore. 

Let your new project be based on your new values and beliefs that you have developed over the course of the new project. 

Take some time to work out the what’s, the whys, and the hows- and envision how you might build on the success you’ve already achieved. 

Hone new skills

If the lack of productive work is making you extremely anxious, consider enrolling for a class that is or is not related to your career and build new skills that can help you take on a new project.

Therapy

Seeking professional help to manage and learn more about your situation can be the best thing you can do for yourself and your journey  of recovering from depression. 

If you are already in therapy, talking to your therapist about your feelings and the confusion you feel and the times that this lack of grounding has hurt you and others can be a good place to start. 

Your therapist can help you learn strategies on how to deal with your emotions and also help you make lifestyle changes on how to manage them more effectively.

Therapy techniques such as Cognitive behaviour therapy or Emotion focused therapy could be some practices that you can try or even engaging in direct anger management workshops or group therapies can also be effective. 

Develop a Support System

If you are struggling with depression, you will also want to develop a strong support system or have at least one person you can rely on for support. 

You might benefit from joining a support group specifically for depression and/or anger. In support groups, you’re likely to find yourself spending time with people who completely understand your situation.

In addition, if you join a group with a facilitator, you may find that you are offered helpful strategies to better manage your depression and anger. 

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed what post project depression is.

We have also discussed why post project depression occurs and how you can cope with post project depression. 

FAQ Post project depression

What to do after a big project is done?

First, what you can do after a project is complete is to celebrate the success of the project or at the least the fact that you have reached the finished line. 

Celebrate the effort you have made, the achievements you have gained and how much you have learned. 

Now, after you celebrate- go out with friends, go on vacation, throw a party, go on a tour etc- take time to rest. 

How do you feel after finishing a project?

Depending on the outcome of the project- your feelings and emotions differ. Usually when the project is successfully completed, one might feel positive and a sense of pride and achievement. 

References

Now You’re Done: Post-project depression. Transition Your life, Retrieved on 19th April 2022. https://www.transitioningyourlife.com/now-youre-done-post-project-depression/

 Kristin Wong. Now What? How to Cope With “Post-Project Depression”. Putty Like. Retrieved on 19th April 2022. https://puttylike.com/now-what-how-to-cope-with-post-project-depression/

 LEAH LAMB. How To Deal With Post-Creation Depression. Fast Company. Retrieved on 19th April 2022. https://www.fastcompany.com/3052655/how-to-deal-with-post-creation-depression

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