The Facts about Post-Grad Depression
By: Sawyer Cecena
Everybody knows that getting a college degree is an extremely stressful task. Between the exams and the papers and trying to maintain a personal life, it’s no surprise that nearly fifty percent of college students are suffering from anxiety and depression. But, what about those who continue to suffer after the cap and gown come off?
I recently graduated with my BS in Psychology after two exhausting years in school. I thought that most of my everyday stressors would magically disappear once I had that diploma in my hands and was free to begin the next chapter of my adult life. However, I found that almost immediately after school ended, I was even more mentally drained than before. It turns out that I’m not alone, and post-grad depression is a phenomenon that affects countless students each year.
So, What Causes Post-Grad Depression?
It seems like our mental health should increase along with finally being able to sleep in and eat non-microwaveable meals, right? But consider this – many of us begin to consider our student status as a crucial part of our identity while in school. I know I’ve had endless Uber rides over the years where the words “I’m a psychology student…” have been shared at one point or another. It’s normal to feel a little empty now that such a long-term identifier is gone. Many graduates also feel a sense of disorganization after leaving college. After all, now that there’s no 8am classes or late-night study sessions, it can be easy to slip out of a rigorous routine and into a lack thereof.
How Do I Know If I Have Post-Grad Depression?
Post-grad depression isn’t exactly a diagnosable condition. So, similarly to any other type of depression, it may affect everybody differently. I became extremely unmotivated after graduation. I began calling out of work more often than ever and spending too many days a week laying around binge watching Netflix instead of doing something more productive. Despite having a huge list of fun things I once wanted to do with my free time – like going to local events and working on my art - I felt like I no longer had interest in any of them. I also got extremely clingy to those around me and began to obsess over social media and what my friends were doing at any given time due to boredom and the worry of being forgotten about. If this sounds like you, or if you’re finding your mental health diminishing suddenly after school, you may also be experiencing post-grad depression.
What Can I Do To Help?
Like any other mental health issue, defeating post-grad depression won’t be simple. One study found that over half of college students who experienced post-grad depression were still struggling up to two years after finishing their studies. Though, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to help yourself along! Why don’t you try putting that new degree to use and searching for a job in your field? Although this can often be easier said than done, sometimes a new start is exactly what people need to kick themselves back into high gear. Or if you’re still trying to recover from all the hard work, now might be the perfect time for something new like a road trip to a different state or taking on a new hobby. If those suggestions aren’t helpful, you may also want to consider talking with a therapist about your issues.