How to cope with post uni depression

Graduating is a massive change in your life. So, it’s totally normal for people to feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty of it all. In fact, post uni depression is pretty common during your first few months in the real world. But we promise things can, and will, get better. Here's our guide on how to cope with post graduate depression.

A young man is sitting at a desk. He is experiencing post graduate depression. This is a full-body image.

Graduate depression & unemployment

The pressure to find a job and pay rent without a student loan, and it’s no wonder young adults develop depression and anxiety after graduating. In fact, just talking about post graduate jobs is exhausting, let alone looking for one. This means that when you’re actually on the job hunt full time, it can be pretty draining and disheartening when you don’t see results. This is probably heightened when every employer tells you that you don’t have enough experience. The continual rejection can seriously affect your confidence.

And don’t just take our word for it. Looking at the causes of graduate depression, unemployment always comes up near the top. But try not to beat yourself up if you’re struggling to find a job. 99.9% of the time it isn’t a reflection on you. Practically all of the greats (including Steve Jobs) have faced job rejection at one point or another. So you’re up there with the best of them. 

Some options for helping with unemployment-related post uni depression

  • Talk to someone with experience in the sector you’re interested in. Create a network by messaging people on LinkedIn or finding their email address through company websites. Good news is that most people will be flattered that you contacted them and 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 and/or job leads.
  • Use the services of charities like The Prince’s Trust. They help young adults gain experience, improve their CVs and can even offer funding to train them. You may have to start with an unpaid internship to get on the career ladder, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it to the top.
  • This one’s important. Ask for feedback on unsuccessful applications. We know it can be hard to hear what you’re lacking but try to take it as constructive criticism. That way you can apply it to your future applications and interviews. 
  • And when you do get that job, make sure that your new company has spoken to organisations such as the City Mental Health Alliance who specialise in improving conversations around mental health in the workplace. 

If you want more info, then read our guide to how to get a graduate job. After that, we’ve even got a guide on how to make your CV stand out here.

If you don’t know what you want to do with your life

Nowadays there’s so much goddamn pressure to figure out what you were put on this earth to do, your dream job… but the truth is, it isn’t always obvious. Unfortunately, a lack of direction can make you feel low and isolated but we promise you’re not the only one. If you’re feeling lost:

  • Remember it takes time to figure out what you want to do. Be patient and explore your options. It’s good to have a goal but that doesn’t mean you should shut the door on all other career paths. Talk to people, research, and get work experience in a wide variety of sectors.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others. Social media is filled with people living their #bestlife which, quite frankly, can feel really sucky if you’re not. Our advice? Remember that social media is basically just a highlight reel of someone’s life. To get some more perspective on what you’re seeing when you scroll, 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, if not the exact same, boat to you.

Feeling like you’re moving backwards after university

A lot of post graduate depression is triggered by a feeling of losing momentum. 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. It’s not. Try to reframe it and think big picture – this move is just a sensible and temporary stepping stone to get to where you want to be.

  • Even if you get on well with your parents, moving back home after three years of independence can be challenging. Sick of being told to wear a coat? Or being asked whether you’re in for dinner? Read our guide on how to manage living with your parents to help out.
  • There’s no shame in taking up an old job for the sake of a few extra quid. We heard Barack Obama once worked as an ice cream scooper and Kanye West used to work as a sales assistant in Gap. Let’s get one thing clear – we’re not saying you should aspire to be like Ye. All we’re trying to point out is that what you do in the short term doesn’t have to define you in the long run.

What else can I do to cope with post graduate depression?

If post graduation depression has still got you in a rut, try the following:

  • Stick to a routine. Even if you don’t have a job, it’s helpful to establish some kind of structure to your day i.e. 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.
  • Socialise. When you feel depressed it’s easy to stay indoors, isolated for weeks on end. Ironically, going out with friends is one of the most positive things you can do for your mental health. So, even though it feels like a chore right now, get in touch with your mates. Or if you’re new to an area try something like MeetUp.
  • Plus, you can always ask your GP for help. They’ll be able to advise on treatment such as counselling or antidepressants. 

Remember, having a case of the graduate blues is pretty standard, but if it goes beyond a few months then you may be facing a mental health crisis. Luckily, there’s plenty of help available so you don’t go through it alone. You can get help right here at The Mix a 24/7 crisis messenger service.

Have you struggled with post university depression? Share your story with the community on our discussion boards to get support.

Next Steps

  • 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 30-Mar-2022