Getting Through (the very real) Post-Graduate Depression
It’s finally here. After four (maybe more) long years, four trying years, graduation has finally come. The gowns have been purchased, the caps have been designed, adulthood—real adulthood—is finally beginning. These are exciting times. Everyone and everything is filled to the brim with wonder, pride, and anticipation for the future. But, sometimes not too long after this beautiful graduation day, some people get into a post-graduation slump, especially if they had a positive collegiate experience.
Being in college is certainly a one-of-a-kind experience. There’s a sense of gaiety, of freedom, that fills the air of college campuses. It’s an odd amalgamation of responsibility and irresponsibility. Of parties. Of stress. Of ephemeral youth. College can be somewhat of a utopia. It’s a very distinct culture that we become accustomed to for nearly half a decade. We meet many of our bridesmaids and groomsmen here. We grow exponentially. We learn exponentially, not just academically, but about ourselves—about others. Leaving this environment can be a bit of a culture shock. So much so that it can even lead to post-graduation depression, a phenomenon that occurs as individuals transition into adult life.
Symptoms of post-graduation depression include an abnormally negative perspective, decreased motivation to get out of bed, a general sense of hopelessness and substance abuse. You may also feel like you’re at a standstill, like you’ve been in the same situation forever. Leaving college can be lonely. On a college campus you have a tight knit community of faculty, counselors, and friends all minutes away from you. Not having that can be an isolating and lonely experience, especially for individuals moving to a new city. Social media can also have an isolating effect on recent graduates. Being bombarded with information about your peers who seemingly have their lives together—despite if they actually do—can make yours seem even more fragmented. Even more disheartening is the fact that individuals often feel like they can’t vocalize these feelings of emotional distress. Graduation is supposed to be a joyous experience. It is a joyous experience. But that doesn’t change the fact these emotions are very real. These feelings are valid. They’re common. And most importantly, they need to be addressed.
To get over this post-graduation slump, try giving yourself things to look forward to each month to keep yourself going, as your motivation can diminish. Do things that excite you and make you happy. Also try creating a strong community in your new environment. It may not be the same as your collegiate community, but it’s important to cultivate a strong support system wherever you’re at. It’s also equally important to maintain ties with your collegiate community; keeping in contact can be difficult but it’s integral. Getting involved in your new community can also be helpful, especially if you were heavily involved on campus.
Graduating from college is an amazing, wondrous accomplishment. It can bring about feelings of happiness, glee, and pride. But just the same, it can put you into an emotionally confusing space. Unfortunately, most universities don’t teach you about this transitional depression. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge the emotions you’re feeling as you continue life after college. Monitoring your mental health is extremely important and it becomes even more important when you graduate. Celebrate your accomplishments fully. Enjoy your graduation wholly. But take care of your mental health just as fully. Take care of yourselves just as much.