What Is Post College Depression And How To Overcome It?

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 06/24/2022

Graduating from college is generally perceived as a time when you feel very happy and excited because of a distinctive accomplishment and because you are going out to face the next phase of your life. Actually, it's great indeed and should be seen as a memorable time in your life. As graduating can be a time of joy, to some, it can be "a time of stress transition and changes". This implies that graduation can mean time to change location because of job opportunities, to experience living alone, or seeing your friends less often. 

It's important to know that post-college depression cannot be diagnosed officially like some mental health conditions. However, it remains a real phenomenon.

What is Post College Depression?

Post-college depression or post-graduation depression, which may also be called post-grad depression, refers to a common experience that some people experience after college. Post-college depression is believed to have the ability to cause numerous unhealthy behaviors based on the disappointment and insecurity affected individuals face when leaving the situation, routine, and friends they’ve known for years.

What are the Symptoms of Post College Depression?

There are some depressive symptoms of graduating from college that may be severe and possibly long lasting. These symptoms can become debilitating and interfere with your relationships, work, and life generally. So, it's advisable to see a doctor or reach out to a therapist when you are persistently disturbed by some depressive symptoms. Before you see a professional, you may click here for a quick online depression test help you reflect on symptoms you’re experiencing. The following are some common symptoms of post-college depression:

  • Addiction: College life is full of different experiences. You may be someone that took seriously going to parties; however, your "occasional crazy party" may have left you with an addiction.

  • Loneliness: Loneliness is a common feeling many people may need to deal with after college. While still in college, you had close friends you see daily, you might love visiting the campus gym, or you may have been in extra curricular activities that kept you connected. All of these end when you graduate. Consequently, it may make you feel incomplete. Leaving your friends and those things you loved doing behind may result in feelings of intense loneliness which can be overwhelming. 
  • Fear: After graduating from college, several individuals find it difficult to move on with their careers. This may be because they are afraid that they may fail and not be successful. This anxiety can seriously affect different things about them such as getting a stable job or making decisions about their career. Undoubtedly, fear can inhibit your growth in life.
  • Hopelessness: Lack of a job is largely responsible for depression after college. Several individuals fall into depression because of all their efforts to secure a job in their major don’t work out quickly. Because they are unable to get a job, they may begin to feel hopeless and see themselves as a failure.

The following are warning signs of post-college depression you may need to watch out for:

  • Becoming irritable or experiencing mood swings
  • Procrastinating and wasting time
  • Persistent tiredness no matter enough sleep you get
  • Being unmotivated to perform tasks during the day
  • Disorganized or easily confused by a new task
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Thinking about death or attempting suicide.

What are the Common Causes of Post-college Depression?

Why people experience post-college depression may vary from person to person. Nevertheless, some common causes can make you feel blue after graduating. They include:

  • Anxiety: The basic trigger of post-college depressive symptoms is anxiety. The fear of the unknown can negatively affect the way you feel, think, and act. The feeling of anxiety may be detected when you're bothered about some questions such as “Will you like the city you're moving to?", “Was your education worth your efforts?", “Are you competent enough to handle your new nob?", and “Will you actually get the job of your dreams?".

  • Difficulty finding a job: As a recent graduate, you may struggle a little bit to find the job of your dreams in your field. You may be lucky to find one easily. The worry about paying your bills and rent because there's no steady job and relying again on parents for financial assistance can make you fall deep in depression. 

Difficulty adjusting to the new working life: Graduating from college to face life outside of it comes with many challenges.

  • Dealing with adult responsibilities: One of the differences between a teenager and an adult is responsibility. College graduation is like a welcome ceremony into the world of adult responsibilities whether you're prepared for it or not. There are different things you will need to handle on your own like cooking each night and paying bills. Adult responsibilities may be overwhelming sometimes if you have no one to fall back on and can lead to depression.
  • Dealing with financial unpredictability: The uncertain economic climate of this present generation opens the door for financial precarity. Being unable to predict your finances can cause depression especially when you are still inexperienced about the new life system.

How to Overcome Post College Depression

There are ways to deal with your condition after knowing those things that can be responsible for it. The following are potential ways to overcome post-graduation depression:

  • Set Goals: To overcome depression, you may need to set goals that will stand as direction for the journey ahead of you after college graduation. Don't start with big ones— set small goals and ensure that they are accomplished. After accomplishing small goals, you can then launch the big ones and make plans on how to handle them every day. Setting goals will give you a sense of purpose and prevent you from feeling hopeless.
  • Find a job: Getting a job after college may sometimes be difficult. Access career services at your school, seek out the support of a trained career counselor, and get creative with places you’re looking for work.
  • Maintain contact with your old friends: There is a possibility that some of your college friends are feeling the same way as you. Try to talk to them. You can even plan a dinner or coffee with them and discuss the challenges you've been going through after college. This can help reduce emotional stress.

In addition, you can also talk with family members for support and ideas about what steps to take next. 

  • Staying in the present: It's very important that you focus on the present.  Don't try to compare your achievement and state of living with that of your friends. Think positively and enjoy where you are.
  • Join support groups: You may sometimes be overwhelmed by the thoughts of the club you joined while in college if you don't find a substitute for it outside the college. There are support groups for adults you can join— social media is one of the available ways (Facebook and Meetup are good examples). In addition, you can be a volunteer in your community or join a yoga class.

  • Acknowledge your accomplishments: Try to be proud of who you are — a college graduate. Becoming a college graduate requires hard work.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Depression can make you lose your appetite. This can consequently, affect both your physical and mental well-being. Make plans on how to make nutritious meals to boost every aspect of your health.
  • Talk with a therapist: You may need to seek the help of a therapist if your condition is becoming severe. There are different treatment options your therapist can recommend.