Under Pressure: Graduates Looking to the Future

Hannah Breckenridge · April 17, 2018

graduationGraduation is an exciting time. Planning your graduation party, starting to dorm shop and preparing for a summer full of catching up on your Netflix queue are all things to look forward to. However, what comes next? Will you like your roommate? Will you be able to handle a college course load? And beyond those—what are you going to do with your life? Whenever someone crosses one of life’s large milestones, feeling uncertainty and anxiety is normal.

Post Commencement Stress Disorder

A great deal of research in Europe has led to the new diagnosis of Post Commencement Stress Disorder (PCSD). This condition is used to describe new graduates who are experiencing stress and anxiety when facing the tasks of choosing and pursuing a career and moving forward with life.

The symptoms of PCSD include:

  • Feeling like you are out of control
  • Feeling a lack of support post-graduation
  • Feelings of failure if unable to flourish in college or in the career world
  • Sleeplessness, exhaustion and irritability
  • Avoidance of activities

These symptoms do not always manifest right after graduation. Instead, they can appear partway through the summer or even once you begin college.

Dealing with Post-Graduation Stress

Making a plan is a great first step in dealing with post-graduation stress. Are you going to take a summer vacation? How will you prepare for college? Will you be looking for an internship? Create a plan of action that gives you a path forward in the short term.

Next, keep your priorities and goals in perspective. Millions of students around the world are in the same situation as you, and many of them have the same uncertainty. In fact, your parents probably faced the same uncertainty and anxiety. Talking to your friends and family, or a trained professional, about your concerns can aid you in gaining perspective and feeling understood.

Are You the Parent of a Graduate? How Can You Help?

If you are the parent of a soon-to-be-graduate or new graduate dealing with stress and anxiety about the future, it’s easy to feel helpless. What can you do to help?

  • Talk with your graduate about how you felt graduating and the path that you took towards your career. Make sure that your graduate understands that you are proud of them and that you will continue to support them.
  • Listen to your student if he or she wants to share more about post-graduation feelings and anxieties.
  • Pay attention to your graduate and look for signs that the anxiety or stress is so significant that professional help would be best.

Help for Graduates Experiencing Stress About the Future 

If you are struggling with obsessive thoughts or concerned that your spring cleaning urges might be a symptom of a bigger problem, you might need some professional help. Reach out to CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to help.