It’s the happiest times of our lives. From wild parties to studying to making life-long friends, college often exists in a bubble. Separate from the other woes in our lives. Away from all the family drama that has plagued us through high school.
A place of new beginnings, college allows us to separate ourselves from our pasts and define ourselves in a way truer to our inner nature.
Unfortunately, this four-year party will eventually bust—and when it does, the reality is going to set in.
When this happens, many college graduates are left feeling depressed and out of place. Some may even feel that a part of them has died, leaving them in a deep funk.
But where does this depression come from, and what can be done about it?
With a rising number of college graduates suffering depression, it’s time to take a look at what’s causing this growing problem.
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First, we want to note that for those who are suffering from depression, there is hope. If you’re having depressed thoughts, be sure to speak to a medical profession.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the driving factors of depression in college graduates.
Why Are We Depressed After College?
Why is it that college graduates often suffer from depression upon re-entering the “real world”?
We can think of two reasons—debt and disillusionment. These factors, which are certainly not mutually exclusive, can add up to make life harder than necessary for those who’ve just graduated college.
It’s worth noting that many of those who graduate college don’t do so with crippling depression. There’s an eagerness to enter the workforce and start work on what they’ve been training to do for the past four years.
Why does all this change so quickly?
Let’s take a closer look:
College students are leaving university with record amounts of debt—and if that’s not depressing, we don’t know what is.
In fact, for many students who didn’t have to worry about paying back student loans while they were in university, the weight of this pressure can have crippling effects upon graduation.
With average student loan debt being in the tens of thousands of dollars, it’s not hard to understand why this places a large financial burden on graduates.
And for many, it can feel like they’re being bogged down before they can even get started.
Many graduates, for instance, may find that they’re required to pay several hundred dollars a month in student loans—something that new graduates simply might not be able to afford.
If they don’t pay it, however, they risk having their credit scores tanked—which can set them back several years when trying to do routine actions, such as buying houses or cars or even getting credit cards.
As you can probably tell, this places a nearly insurmountable burden on graduates who are just starting out.
What’s worse, there’s not much time for graduates to work on finding jobs to start paying down their debt. In fact, it’s more of a race against the clock, as students work to find employment before their student loans start hitting.
Unfortunately for many, the amount they have to pay in student loans can often be far greater than they anticipated—and take up more of their salary than they want.
And with many of these loans looking to be ten to twenty-year investments, it’s no wonder that graduates often feel as if there’s no way out.
Feeling stuck in such a situation is one of the primary causes of depression. By making all their efforts seem useless, student loan debt can cripple a graduate’s confidence and ability in his own self.
This is especially true when considering the fact many graduates may start to blame themselves for having taken out so many loans or for not getting scholarships.
This creates a cycle of self-loathing and personal frustration that fuels even deeper depression.
With several new loan consolidation programs out there, times might be changing for these graduates—but only time will tell.
For now, graduates need to take time to better understand the implications of their student loan debt while still in college so that they can better prepare themselves for harsh reality.
It’s not just money that leaves college graduates feeling stuck in a rut, however.
After four years of parties and doing what they want, graduates are thrust into the real world of responsibility without so much as a parting present.
Unless you consider tens of thousands of dollars of debt a farewell gift.
When this happens, it may take some time before graduates truly understand the magnitude of their newfound situation.
For many, it will be the first time in their lives that their choices will have a direct impact on their financial future.
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Instead of relying on their parent’s money or scholarship money or on student loans, these individuals now must fend for themselves.
And because this is completely new territory, many just aren’t going to be too good at it.
As illusions of grandeur and adulthood begin to crumble, depression begins to rise. Because several graduates are going to start feeling out of their element and unable to cope with stress, depression will set in.
This isn’t helped by the fact that many graduates are now unable to find a high-paying job based on their degrees.
With the value of a bachelor’s degree in steady decline, many graduates are left feeling jilted that they went through so much trouble and accrued so much debt for no return.
It’s this broken promise that is perhaps most damaging of all. Though we’ve all been told since we were little that going to college would help us get a job, this is simply not true anymore.
At least not every time. It’s not a guarantee that anyone should make.
And for those who are still believing it, the real world has a lesson to teach. Graduates who feel as if they’ve done everything right will now feel punished for doing what they’ve always been told to do.
Reality isn’t rewarding them in the same way empty promises did.
And this is always depressing.
In this regard, graduates are forced to adapt to real-world conditions. It’s likely they went through a similar depression soon after entering university, but this one is likely going to be harder to get through.
Once they do, however, it typically means they’re on the right footing.
What Can You Do?
If you’ve found yourself depressed after college, don’t worry.
You’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to help improve your mood and improve your current lot in life.
Keep the following information in mind if you are currently suffering from depression.
See a Doctor
The most important thing you can do is to seek advice from a medical professional. This is especially true for those who are suffering from thoughts of harm or suicide.
These trained professionals can help guide you through the emotions you are experiencing and can even provide medication that will help adjust your mood.
Most importantly, however, they can help you come to terms with the root cause of your depression so that you can get on with your life.
It’s often the case that the depression we feel holds us back more than we realize. It’s even possible that it prevents us from taking life-changing opportunities.
This is often fueled by cynicism and fear, and this happens all too often for those who are living with depression.
By speaking to a medical professional, you can help get your mind in the right place and start working through the issues that you are facing.
By sharing your burden, you can reduce some of the incredible pressure you’re facing. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to face your day-to-day challenges and overcome your troubles.
Find a Support Group
Another great option is to join a support group. Though you may not be able to find one for your specific trigger, it’s possible to meet individuals who will support you on your road to recovery.
You may even find that many are dealing with the same issues as you. Financial troubles. Inability to find a job. A lack of personal confidence and self-esteem.
By meeting with these individuals, you may even get a better understanding of what steps you should take moving forward.
And through talking about the issues troubling you, you may even come to realize some solutions of your own.
By attempting to actively deal with your depression, you can make it a manageable part of your life. Instead of letting it consume you and hang over your head, put yourself in control.
Give it a space in your life, but make sure that you can control that space.
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In doing so, you can better compartmentalize and start working for the things you need in order to better your future.
The truth is that when you’re depressed, it can be incredibly difficult making necessary decisions. If you’re burdened by student loans, for instance, it can be hard to find the
It can be even harder finding a job that pays enough that you can afford to.
However, if you let this depression keep you from taking these steps, you’ll find that you’re in an even worse boat—and your feelings of unease will grow.
Not only that, they’ll be compounded with feelings of guilt and self-loathing that you didn’t act sooner.
Don’t make your problems worse. Start by finding the support you need to manage your depression and take steps to make it better.
What this all boils down to is this:
Never give up.
Though the struggles faced by many college graduates today can be astounding, it’s important to keep going until you reach your desired goal.
This often means taking quick action. You never want to fall even further behind—and that’s what will happen if you give in to your feelings.
Make sure that you’re working hard to change your situation—even if you don’t feel like it. This means trying every day to find a job related to your major. It means paying down those student loan debts even if you don’t feel like you’ve got the money.
Over time, as you begin to reduce your burdens and take back control, your mood will improve. You’ll even start to be thankful to yourself for taking the right course of action and sticking it through. You may even be encouraged to give yourself a pat on the back.
Importantly, this will give you the self-confidence boost you need to tackle other problems in your life. As you learn to take these challenges head-on, you’ll get the skills you need to live a more productive and fulfilling life.
Is There Hope?
With that being said, we think it’s clear:
There’s hope left for college graduates.
We understand how depressing it can be having to leave university behind. Not only are you leaving your friends and likely the city you’ve grown so accustomed to, but you’re also leaving behind a whole way of life.
You’re trading in your student card for one that comes with heavy burdens and responsibility. It’s only natural to go through a depressed state as you learn to test the waters and successfully navigate this new life.
In order to beat this depression, be sure that you’re taking active steps to reduce its triggers. This means paying down student loan debt and finding a good job.
Though these may be much easier said than done, don’t discount them simply because they’re difficult.
As you take control of your life and move past these obstacles, you’ll learn to embrace the new life that you’re living.
It’s at this time that you’ll be able to fully overcome your post-college depression and build the life you’ve always wanted. Believe it or not: now’s the time to make your dreams come true.
And with a little hard work, you can make it happen.