In the academic year of 2020/2021, a recorded 2.66 million students attended a UK higher education institution. Applicant numbers have only grown in recent years and, with the increase of university students, there has also been a surge in the amount of postgraduate students experiencing depression and anxiety, also commonly referred to as ‘post-grad blues’. Once dismissed, post-graduate depression and anxiety is now recognised by many counsellors as a very real experience that some students go through after graduating from university.
What is post-graduate depression and anxiety?
Post-graduate depression and anxiety refers specifically to the presentation of depression and anxiety in an individual after completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. However, the term can also be applied to any individual completing higher education.
It is not uncommon for students to experience a form of anxiety and/or depression after completing their studies. There can be feelings of uncertainty regarding their future, pressures to secure work, difficulty adjusting to the transition from student life to the mainstream, as well as changing relationships as peers move on.
Additionally, according to research undertaken by the medical journal Addictive Behaviour Reports, manifestations of anxiety and depression may occur in higher education students due to the sheer amount of time they have spent within education – many have attended school in some capacity for a minimum of 15 years, making it a very real and very large part of their identity.
The transition from education to the mainstream can stir feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, general insecurity, irritability and low mood.
What are the symptoms of post-graduate depression and anxiety?
Symptoms of post-graduate depression and anxiety are similar to the common signs of clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. For example, individuals experiencing post-graduate depression and anxiety may present with psychological symptoms such as:
- sadness and/or continuous low mood
- low self-esteem
- feelings of guilt
- general sense of failure
- decreased motivation
What are some tools to overcome post-graduate depression and anxiety?
The uncertainty surrounding transitioning from education to the mainstream can be very unsettling for some, however, there are several practices that you can put in place to help alleviate the symptoms of post-graduate depression and anxiety.
1. Adopt mindfulness
Allow yourself to experience the array of emotions that come up; be curious and non-judgemental in exploring your thoughts and feelings. In doing this, you may eventually be able to make better sense of them and overcome negative feelings stirred by your change in circumstance.
2. Make the most of the services available to you
Most schools and universities will have a careers service/department, where you can ask for support with job applications, upskilling, as well as putting in place a plan to create a more stable routine.
3. Remember that many other graduates are experiencing the same feelings as you
Lots of students leaving school and university find themself in the same position, which may stir up similar feelings of low mood and anxiousness. This is important to remember because it reaffirms that you are not isolated in your experience, and that how you are feeling will not last forever.
4. Reach out to someone
If you are struggling with low mood, or any psychological and/or physical symptoms related to depression and anxiety, speak to someone. You may choose to talk to your partner, friends, members of your family or even a counsellor.
Here at Hope Therapy, we offer UK-wide mental health and wellbeing support via coaching, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), EMDR and mindfulness. We understand how difficult a change in circumstance, in particular transitioning from education to the mainstream, can be. As such, we have access to counsellors in a variety of locations throughout England that can support you either face-to-face or virtually, depending on the support you are looking for.
To book a free 15-minute counselling consultation to discuss your needs, please visit hopefulminds.co.uk, or alternatively contact us via telephone on 07379 538411 between the hours of 9am till 9pm from Monday to Sunday.