Post college depression is something that I’ve personally struggled to come to grips with. Many people go to college, make tons of friends, have a good time, then finish school and fall into a deep depressive rut. Up until college, you are used to going to school and socializing with people you meet at school. Although it is pretty easy to make friends when living at the dorms, suddenly you finish school and you realize that you are like an Eagle that hasn’t fully spread its wings.
You haven’t yet fully transitioned into becoming an adult and are experiencing what is considered a Quarter Life Crisis. Chances are you are in your 20s, just graduated or maybe have graduated for a couple of years and have become really depressed. There’s a reason you have become depressed though. You haven’t successfully managed to navigate through the transition into adulthood. The transition is scary for many people and failing to “man up” and transition can leave you in a rut of depression rut for a long time.
Post-College Depression Symptoms & Signs
Most symptoms of post-college depression are not typical symptoms of depression. This does not typically have the same etiology as actual clinical depression. However, the longer you let the depression rule your life after college, the more difficult it is going to be to overcome.
- Addiction: Following college people become addicted to drugs and alcohol to fill voids in their life. Additionally, many people loved the hedonistic sex, drugs, party life that they experienced in college. This lifestyle is not healthy and not sustainable for the future. Addiction is a common symptom of the depression following college.
- Confusion: Another common symptom of post-college depression is confusion. You don’t know what to do with your life. Should you crawl back in the nest with your parents or explore the dangerous world all on your own? What type of career should you enter? What is your life purpose? You are confused.
- Fear: Most people are afraid of taking the next step after finishing college. The next step involves finding a home, grocery shopping on your own, and getting a stable job. This makes many people scared, but is necessary to advance in life.
- Loneliness: It is common to feel lonely. Now you are out on your own, experiencing life, and you don’t have your social support network around to back you up. Your roommate has moved across the country and life is staring you in your face.
- Joblessness: Most people that finish college are depressed that they can’t find a job. This is a very common symptom. It’s time to kick yourself into gear and make something work. Lack of productivity and contribution will make anyone depressed.
What causes post college depression?
What causes people to feel depressed after they finish college? Obviously there are a number of reasons you may feel depressed after college. Some people had become addicted to the college lifestyle, others miss their friends, and some people just don’t know what to do as the next step.
Although the transition into adulthood is a piece of cake for some people, others really struggle with day to day functioning. Then again, others may have had actual or clinical depression before college and it is starting to rear its head again now that you have become lonely and/or unproductive. The causes can be totally different depending on the person.
How to Overcome Post College Depression: Help Yourself
- Take risks – Sometimes we become so comfortable in a certain environment that we simply need to take some risks. I’m not suggesting to go out and do dumb things, I’m saying take some risks that can better your life. For example, ask a girl out on a date, become active in the community, try some new activities.
- Get a job – If you don’t have a job you either need to get one as soon as possible or create one. No making excuses, just go out and get one. This will help implement socialization and structure into your day. Although you may not necessarily like the job you are doing, keep working and staying productive – it’s tough to be depressed when you are busy.
- Meet new people – Put yourself out there and meet some new social contacts. Get some new friends in your life. Although this isn’t easy for everyone to do, there are plenty of opportunities to be social. Find some of your interests, join some clubs, join some groups, and get meeting.
- Join clubs – For people that have a difficult time making friends following college, one good suggestion is to join clubs. If you are into yoga, go join a yoga class. If you like debating, join a debate club. If you like sports, maybe volunteer to help coach a team in your community. There are plenty of social clubs that you can join to help keep yourself busy and meet new people.
- Be social – Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Try to be as social as you can following college. It is pretty easy to be social while at college because there are a bunch of other kids your same age in your same situation. However, when people go their own ways after college, it can become a real challenge to make friends. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again – eventually you’ll meet some people.
- Set goals – Set and work towards goals. There is nothing better at helping yourself overcome and deal with depression than achievement. Once you set one goal and accomplish it, keep setting more and working on them. This will give you a sense of purpose and help you experience personal growth.
- Focus on the present – Perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself right now is to focus on the present moment. What can you do right now to make yourself happier and overcome your depression? Chances are good that if you take an honest look at your life, you will be able to see voids that need to be filled with positive, productive activities. Don’t dwell on the past times you had in college. They may have been fun times, but right now you are in a rut. Don’t compare the present to the past, focus on what needs to be done right now for your wellbeing.
- Stay in touch – If you made good friends in college, make sure you keep in touch with them. Hang out with them when you can and have some more good times. There are plenty of opportunities to stay in touch via social media networks and you can always plan to meet up for dinner and/or a reunion with old friends.
- Get a girlfriend/boyfriend – If you are lonely all the time, consider getting into a relationship. Plenty of people are looking for dates after college and with the invention of dating apps and websites, it is pretty easy to find someone that you’ll like. Go out and get a special someone to spend time with – it’ll significantly improve your depression.
- Medication – If your depression becomes so severe that you cannot function, you may need medication. Medications can help people that are struggling get through tough times. They are not going to cure you of depression, but may be able to give you a boost to increase your confidence so that you can make much-needed life changes. For more information on overcoming depression without drugs, read the article 10 natural cures for depression.
Did you experience post-college depression? Were you able to overcome it?
If you experienced depression upon graduating from college, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. By sharing you experience it helps other people experiencing this know that they are not alone. Often times the things we go through in life are to show other people that it can be done – these things help make us stronger. If you are experiencing depression following college and haven’t yet overcome it, why are you depressed?