What is Post tenure depression?


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Page last updated: 28/10/2022

What is Post tenure depression?

In this blog we will discuss what Post tenure depression is. 

We will also discuss what causes post tenure depression and how one can cope with post tenure depression.

What is Post tenure depression?

Post-tenure  depression refers to a period of slump, demotivation, and low mood that one experiences after they have won tenure which is a goal 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-tenure  depression.

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.

What causes post tenure depression?

One of the major causes of post tenure depression is that once one has attained tenure, they are faced with a period of transition that they might be prepared for. 

This period can be a time of change in their professional status, identity, expectations and workload and they can also experience confusion when there is a shift in how others see them.

Another crucial aspect is that professionals often experience a shift in how they see themselves, the stress caused by the increase in responsibilities, and the direction of their work once they have attained tenure. 

Usually when one has won tenure, it is a point in their life that they have finally achieved a goal they have been working on for a long time. 

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. 

The lack of a driving force or a goal 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 this new phase in their work life 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-tenure depression could be because of work-related reasons. Some other reasons include:

  • Life post the tenure 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 
What is Post tenure depression?

How to cope with post tenure depression?

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

Celebrate and rest

First, what you can do after you have achieved your goals on winning tenure is to celebrate the success of the goal or at the least the fact that you have reached the finish 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. 

Go on a sabbatical

Another thing that you can do is to go on a sabbatical- where you take leave from your work with paid time off and instead of working- you take time to rest as well as engage in activities that can help you learn new skills and meet new people in the field. 

Nikole Patson, writing for Science,com, wrote that going for a sabbatical and collaborating with young students in a new country is what helped her relearn and fall in love with her work and her field all over again. 

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 which can be your guide during your post tenure career life. 

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. 

Plan a new goal

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

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

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. 

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 can consider reaching out to a professional friend or a mentor who might have an idea of what is happening.

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. 


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. 


In this blog we have discussed what Post tenure depression is. 

We have also discussed what causes post tenure depression and how one can cope with post tenure depression.

FAQ related to Post tenure depression

Does tenure mean 10 years?

No, tenure is not a term that means tenure. 

Tenure is awarded to teachers who have worked at their institution for five or six years and are committed to work, research, and the institution.

What is a post tenure review?

Post-tenure review refers to evaluations that occur periodically after your tenure that consists of various forms of  continuous evaluation utilised by most colleges and universities to assess the performance of a tenured teacher or professor. 

Is tenure a job for life?

No. Tenure is not a job for life. 

Tenure does not guarantee you a job for life nor does it guarantee job stability since you can still be fired even if they have tenure. 

How long does it take to gain tenure?

Typically, a tenure-track professor will have to five or six years and being committed to work, research, and the institution can eventually win you tenure 

How hard is getting tenure?

Getting tenure can be very challenging but it is not impossible. Being committed to work, research, and the institution can eventually win you tenure at your institution; however, getting enture does not mean that you will be guaranteed job satisfaction and happiness.


Nikole. Patson. How I recovered from tenure-track burnout. Science. Retrieved on 24th April 2022. https://www.science.org/content/article/how-i-recovered-tenure-track-burnout

David D. Perlmutter. Avoiding PTSD: Post-Tenure Depression Syndrome. The Chronicle. Retrieved on 24th April https://www.chronicle.com/article/avoiding-ptds-post-tenure-depression-syndrome/

Kerry Ann Rockquemore. Post Tenure Depression? Insidehighered. Retrieved on 25th April 2022. https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2015/09/23/essay-avoiding-depression-after-being-awarded-tenure