Managing depression after university

Leaving university and taking your first steps into the world of work can be tough. Here's our guide on how to tackle those first few months after graduation and beyond.

depressed graduate

Adjusting to life after uni can be tough

Adjusting to life after uni is tough, but the important thing to remember is it won’t last forever and there are ways of dealing with it.

When uni ends you’re flung into a world without structure, without your best mates around you and without the SU bar at the end of your road. Couple that with the pressure to find a job and pay rent without a student loan, and it’s no wonder people feel low after graduating.

I’m worried I’ll never find a job

Looking for a job is a job in itself (without the pay!) – it’s time consuming, and draining when you don’t get results. It can be frustrating to hear you don’t have enough experience. The continual rejection can seriously affect your confidence. Try not to beat yourself up about this. It isn’t a reflection on you, it’s just unfortunately part of the ride. You could also try exploring some of the following options:

  • Talk to someone with experience in the sector you’re interested in. Make yourself contacts by messaging people on LinkedIn or find their email address through company websites – most people are flattered to be asked and will be happy to meet for a coffee and a chat. While this may not lead to a job it should give you a better understanding of the sector and may lead to other contacts.
  • Use the services of charities like The Prince’s Trust. They can help you gain experience, improve your CV and can even offer funding to train.
  • Speak to the careers advisor at your university. Even if you’ve already graduated, your university will be happy to talk to you about your options. They’ll also offer mock interviews, CV improvement workshops and career mentoring programmes.
  • Ask for feedback on unsuccessful applications. It can be hard to hear what you’re lacking but try to use this information positively and apply it to your future applications and interviews.

I don’t know what I want to do with my life

There’s so much goddamn pressure to figure out your calling in life…but the truth is, it isn’t always obvious. A lack of direction can make you feel low, but it doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

  • Remember it takes time to figure out what you want to do. Take your time and explore your options. It’s good to have a goal but it’s also good to keep an open mind. Talk to people, research careers, get work experience in a wide variety of sectors.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other people. Social media is overrun with people living their #bestlife which quite frankly is really unhelpful when you’re feeling low. Remember that social media is a fickle beast where people only post what they want you to see. It’s also worth reading our article on how to stay sane online.
  • Speak to your friends, or someone you trust about how you feel. Chances are some of your friends are in a similar boat to you.

I feel like I’m moving backwards

Moving back in with your parents, or picking up an old job at your local bar can feel like a step in the wrong direction but try to see it for what it is – a sensible and temporary stepping stone to where you want to be.

  • Even if you get on well with your parents, moving back home after three years of looking after yourself can be challenging. Sick of being told to wear a coat? Sick of being asked whether you’re in for dinner? Read our guide on how to live with your parents.
  • There is no shame in taking up an old job for the sake of a few extra bob. We heard Barack Obama once worked as an ice cream scooper and Kanye West used to work as a sales assistant in Gap. We’re not saying you should aspire to be like Kanye West, but we are saying that what you do in the short term does not define you in the long run.

What else can I do?

  • Try to maintain a routine. Even if you don’t have a job, it’s helpful to establish some kind of structure to your day – wake up at a normal time, get dressed, plan your meals, allocate time to your job search and get out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s just for a walk.
  • Research shows that doing exercise and eating healthily can really affect your mood. Try joining an exercise class and getting creative in the kitchen. More tips here on how to cope with depression.
  • Socialise. When you feel depressed it’s easy to feel uninterested in the world around you but research shows that spending time with friends is one of the most positive things you can do for your mental health. Get in touch with your mates, or if you’re new to an area try something like MeetUp.
  • Ask your GP for help. They will be able to advise on treatment such as counselling or antidepressants.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Olivia Capadose

Updated on 22-Oct-2018