5 Signs Your Child Is Experiencing Post-Grad Depression & How You Can Help

This is part of an article that was posted on HERCAMPUS.COM by Mara Hyman

1. They feel extremely disorganized.
Up until this point, they were a student thier entire life, meaning their daily schedule was always laid out for them. They managed to balance deadlines with ease, as they juggled classes, extracurricular activities, and their social life.

Now, things are different. If they don’t yet have a job, they might not always set an alarm in the morning or have a rigid plan for the day. If they do, they might get behind on long-term projects or find themselves forgetting things easily.

While it was easier to have the motivation to stay organized in college since the consequence was a bad grade, in the working world the responsibility is 100 percent on them. They might not feel like they have as much control over their life since they don’t know what’s coming next, which is stressful.

To alleviate the chaos of disorganization in their life, making to-do list is their new best friend. By setting small goals for each day and physically crossing them off on a list, they will feel significantly more accomplished and as though they have their life more together, at least a little bit.

Additionally, find things in their city that help provide you with structure. A Reddit user with the username derblaureiter found this particularly helpful, as she says, “Since I like structure, so far I have been getting involved in clubs, organizations, and institutions that interest me (e.g. concerning painting, running, and so on). That way I am exposed to individuals and given the opportunity to make friends outside of my job. In other words, I guess I’m taking the aspects I liked from college (like structure) and applying them to how I design my life.”

2. Their motivation is diminishing.
Do they find it harder than ever to get out of bed in the morning? Do they continually make excuses to avoid the gym and work towards a healthy lifestyle? These might be signs that thye lack motivation for conquering the day and are stuck in a post-grad rut.

This especially applies to one’s entry-level career. If they are still desperately searching for a job, they might feel a sense of defeat, as though their college education failed them. If they have a job that they don’t like, they might lack the drive to push themselves creatively or do anything beyond the bare minimum requirements of their role.

As cliché as it is, it’s important to remember that things will get better, and while they may be in a rut right now, it’s normal to experience some frustration when it comes to the early stages of their career. Help them to try thinking less about the day to day and more about the bigger picture. Wouldn’t your future self want you to keep going with the job hunt and apply for more positions? Wouldn’t your future self feel accomplished having stuck with a workout plan that made you feel good? Focus on their long-term goals rather than the daily struggles that make them feel defeated, and they will sail past these deterrents.

When dealing with depression, it’s usually easier and more realistic to set small, manageable goals, such as “I’ll apply for two jobs today,” or “I’ll do some research on an industry today.” This helps break things down and will allow them to prove to themselves that they are capable of tackling goals.

3. Checking social media too much for their own good.
Once they graduate, it’s easier than ever to compare themselves to college friends. We immediately judge people’s post-grad lives based on whether they found a high-paying job, if they’re living in a big city, and if they seem happy from the outside looking in.

Social media gives us the chance to stay in touch with college friends, but comparing themselves to others online can be extremely harmful to one’s mental health. If they are experiencing post-grad depression, they might find themselves continually checking Instagram to see how peers are fairing in the real world and juxtapose their life with their own more than they should.

While diminishing social media usage is easier said than done, they can reverse the effects of this behavior by changing their mindset. Everyone around them is trying to make their lives appear perfect through the lens of social media, primarily exposing their highlight reel. They don’t profess their deepest insecurities, their potential financial struggles or their sad days. Once they realize that everyone is dealing with their own problems, their issues won’t feel as unbearable.

An anonymous recent graduate of James Madison University avoids making comparisons with others by focusing on the positives in her life. She says, “I’m getting to spend more time with my family, exploring bars in my hometown I couldn’t go to in high school and don’t have to stress about big tests or projects. It’s great to look back and appreciate the great moments of your college life, but remember you have so many great things coming up in your future too!”

4. They are desperate for a support system.
Not only is it difficult to make new friends after college, but it can be a culture shock going from a state of being constantly surrounded by people you know to being on their own.

It’s hard for anyone to no longer have a built-in support system within close distance. The same goes for family if they don’t live in the same state—phone calls can’t compensate for face-to-face interaction with the people they care about.

If they don’t have college friends or family close by, try creating their own support system in their new city. Co-workers or boss can be a great mentor in helping navigate their career and pushing them to be better. They can also attend networking events in their city to connect with others in their industry and grow their circle. The more they are able to increase their social bubble, the less isolated they will feel.

5. They feel like they at a standstill.
If you find your child in the same situation for months, whether it’s living at home or still struggling to find a job, it can feel as though the odds of escaping their rut are hopeless. No matter what they do to change things, it seems as though time stands still for them while it speeds up for others.

This can be especially frustrating if they had a great college experience, and then suddenly time moves so slowly. In this way, post-grad depression can hit right away if they are anxious for change and excitement in their life compared to their happy state in college.

Autumn Dube, a recent graduate of Emmanuel College, preaches the importance of giving yourself things to look forward to in the midst of all of the changes, or lack of, that take place after college. She says, “Even if you’re not where you want to be, make plans each week or month that make you excited to keep going. Whether it’s meeting up with old friends for coffee, seeing a concert or visiting a new city, give yourself fun reasons to always look forward to your future. It keeps your current state of mind more positive too!”

Post-grad depression can feel like a heavy weight when your child is coming off of the high that is college. However, the real world doesn’t have to be as scary as it might seem. By helping them to change their mindset, setting achievable goals, and surrounding themselves with people who will lift them up, they will find that insecurities will begin to diminish.