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Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
These days, more and more people are working from home. Many businesses closed their offices during the COVID-19 pandemic and never reopened them, while other, usually younger, companies never set up offices in the first place.
It’s undeniable that working from home has perks. You don’t have to commute and you can wear comfy clothes. Want a snack? Your fridge is just a short stroll away.
But some people miss the camaraderie and social connection that working in an office can bring. Others even say that working remotely can lead to mental health conditions like depression — but can it?
To understand if working from home can lead to depression, you first need to understand what depression even is. Simply put, depression is a mental health condition that negatively affects how you feel and the way you go about your life.
If you are experiencing depression, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
Feelings of sadness
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
A pessimistic attitude
Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
Appetite or weight changes
A mental health provider may diagnose you with depression if you’ve been experiencing at least some of these symptoms of depression for at least two weeks.
First, you should know that there isn’t a ton of research in this area. So, more research needs to be done before there’s a definitive answer on whether or not working from home can cause depression.
That said, there are some preliminary studies that seem to suggest that it is possible that working from home could cause depression.
One study, which was done in Japan, included over 3,000 users of a health app and found that working at home during the pandemic increased the risk of depression.
In another study, researchers collected and reviewed — via Twitter — real-time data about how people were feeling about working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that while many people enjoyed not being in a cubicle all day, their stress increased because working from home blurred boundaries between different parts of their lives (especially for parents).
These few studies aren’t sufficient enough to determine if working from home could cause depression, though they do suggest it’s possible.
There is also a good deal of research that has shown a link between loneliness and depression. Specifically, lonely people tend to develop depressive symptoms.
If you're a remote worker, it means you are not around as many people as you would be around in a traditional office environment. Day after day of being alone at home while you work could potentially impact your mental well-being and lead to loneliness — which, based on the above research, could lead to depressive symptoms.
If you do find yourself dealing with depression — whether it’s from working at home or not — you should reach out to a healthcare professional for an official diagnosis and treatment. Hers offers online consultations that make reviewing depression treatment options easy. Below are some of the things that a professional may recommend.
In this form of therapy, you will partner with a mental health professional to work on identifying patterns and behaviors that aren’t helping you in your life. From there, you’ll work on ways to change these thoughts and behaviors.
Check your mental health benefits to see if therapy is covered. There is also affordable online therapy available.
Along with therapy, many people use prescription antidepressant medication to treat depression. Here’s why: Depression is thought to be connected to low levels of certain neurotransmitters — we’re looking at you, serotonin and dopamine — which are brain chemicals that bring info between neurons.Antidepressants can boost levels of these neurotransmitters.
Different types of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like fluoxetine), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (venlafaxine is an example) and tricyclic antidepressants (such as nortriptyline).
You may need to take antidepressants for up to eight weeks before you start noticing a difference in your depressive symptoms.
There are more remote employees than ever before. And while working from home has many perks (see ya, commute!), it can also lead to feelings of isolation.
Some think that this can cause mental health issues, like depression. The truth is that there isn’t any firm research that supports this.
However, it has been found that loneliness and social isolation can lead to people feeling depression symptoms. So, if remote workers feel lonely because they're at home, it could potentially lead to work from home depression.
If your quality of life is suffering from working at home or you’d like to speak with someone about depression, consider online therapy.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.
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