By Shikole Struber
Mental health is important throughout your life. For the most part, professionals and individuals have a good grasp on most of the symptoms, treatments and how to manage mental health. Most conditions have a specific name and an outlined treatment plan. One realm of mental health that has not been studied specifically is depression in post grads.
Depression itself is common, but there are several different kinds.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder - A type of depressive disorder which is characterized by episodes of major depression which reoccur at a specific time of the year (e.g. fall, winter).
- Anxiety Depression – Not an official depression type (as defined by the DSM). However, anxiety often also occurs with depression. In this case, a depressed individual may also experience anxiety symptoms (e.g. panic attacks) or an anxiety disorder (e.g. PTSD, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder).
- Atypical Depression - (Sub-type of Major Depression or Dysthymia) – Characterized by a temporary improvement in mood in reaction to positive events and two (or more) of the following: significant weight gain or increase in appetite,over sleeping, heavy feeling in arms or legs, long-standing pattern of sensitivity to rejection.
- Chronic Depression – Major depressive episode that lasts for at least two years.
- Endogenous Depression – Endogenous means from within the body. This type of depression is defined as feeling depressed for no apparent reason.
*Definitions retrieved from here.
The list goes on, but those are some of the major ones. While the depression a post grad is feeling may fall into one of those categories, no research has been done on how the actual cause of depression might be graduation. There is Post Partum depression that occurs directly as a result of having a baby, which leads me to believe that the emotional and physical stresses of such a major life change as graduation may also have distinct characteristics as a type of depression.
Graduating college is probably the biggest and most open-ended life change. There is no clear path to follow. No guidelines. While we have previously spoken about how the possibilities being endless is liberating, not all post grads feel this way. Not knowing where you are going to live, if you have to move back in with your parents, not knowing what kind of job you want, or what kind you can get, lack of structure and the loss of your support system are too much for a lot of post grads to handle on their own. Depression is very common in the years following graduation, but not commonly discussed.
One of the characteristics I would attribute to Post Graduation Depression is not knowing what makes you happy. Allison recently posted about making yourself happy first and not trying to please anyone around you. This is also common advice for alleviating depressed feelings. But what if you don’t know what makes you happy anymore? We all knew what made us happy in the college setting, but now the rules have changed, the players have changed, the location has changed; what makes us happy in this new game called post grad life?
Marcos Salazar is an expert on the Millennial Generation and has included post grad depression as a series in his blog. He outlines some other specific symptoms he thinks should be included in the specific depression that post grads experience. Please check it out here if you would like more information.