Coping with depression post-graduation

Latoya Chambliss walked across the stage at Florida A&M University, claiming her degree with confidence and a sense of pride. Unfortunately, six months later that confidence and pride turned into depression and anxiety. 

Post-Graduation Depression, also known as a quarter-life crisis, is real and believe it or not happens to thousands of young adults each year. Common symptoms of depression consist of anxiety, hopelessness, sadness or insomnia. Some young adults may also feel lost, scared, lonely or confused about what steps to take to transition properly into adulthood. 

“After graduating I felt very anxious and unsure about what was next for me,” Chambliss said. 

 “Knowing that I spent so much money, time and effort at FAMU, I was nervous about applying everything I was taught.” 

According to the Washington Post, research suggests that 18 to 24 year olds have the highest rates of depression and anxiety, with job concerns high on their list of worries.

Depression and anxiety can come from many things going on in life. Moving out on your own for the first time can be hard and induce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which leads to depression. There are also studies that show unemployment and choosing a career path is a major cause for young adults to suffer from anxiety and stress. 

A recent graduate of the University of South Florida, Jazzmine Orr, has also experienced anxiety and depression following graduating. 

“I have dealt with anxiety and depression. I couldn’t find a job and grad school applications became stressful,” Orr said. states that the leading cause of suicide among students is depression that goes unreported and untreated. The 2014 edition of the National Survey of College Counseling Centers reported that “more than half the students seen by college counseling centers across the country have significant mental health concerns.”

Students dealing with depression and anxiety tend to self-medicate. They abuse drugs and alcohol to mask the pain to attempt to fix the problem. What many do not realize is that abusing drugs and alcohol is like putting a Band-Aid on something that needs stitches. 

“I tried to self-medicate, but in the end, it just built up until it all hit me at once. When it got to the point where I couldn’t handle it any longer, I went to see a counselor,” Orr explained. “I believe that one real way to cope with anxiety and depression is to talk about it, allowing others in so that they can help you.”

Unfortunately, it is hard to find solid figures for those who experience post-graduation depression because people do not tend to seek help from their university counseling services once they have left. 

So where do recent graduates seek help if they need it?

Here in Tallahassee, not only does Florida State University and FAMU have counseling centers, there is also the Tallahassee Counseling Center, the Florida Therapy Center and the Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center. 

“Therapy empowered me to mend relationships with my parents, end toxic relationships and patterns, own my truths and give myself a break. It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Chambliss said. 

Depression can also contribute to your physical health. It can affect everything from your heart to your immune system. If not treated, depression can also make existing illnesses worse. In turn, the physical health changes you receive from depression can cause your depression to worsen as well. 

“There is a very important connection between physical and mental health. Both are so intimately intertwined that you can’t affect one without affecting the other,” said Larry Kubiak, a psychologist at the Tallahassee Memorial Behavioral Health Center. 

There are many forms of therapy that can help with depression and are usually personalized for specific situations.  One of the most popular forms is psychotherapy (also called talk therapy), or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. 

“Remember to surround yourself with people who want to help and encourage you to see the light when all you think there is, is darkness,” Orr said. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with depression and anxiety, seek professional help.