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Can Working From Home Cause Depression?

Katelyn Hagerty

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 8/15/2022

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? 

Understanding More About Depression 

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

  • Low energy

  • Irritability

  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Restlessness

  • Appetite or weight changes

  • Low libido

  • Trouble sleeping 

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.

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Can Working From Home Cause Depression?

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. 

Addressing Your Depression

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. 

Therapy

There are many different types of talk therapy, but research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be right for treating depression. 

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.

Medication 

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.

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Working From Home and Depression

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.

9 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. What is Depression? American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
  2. Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
  3. Sato, K., Sakata, R., Murayama, C., et al., (2020). Working From Home and Lifestyle Changes Associated With Risk of Depression During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Observational Study of Health App (CALO Mama) Users. SSRN. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3661202
  4. Zhang, C. Yu, M., Marin, S., (2021). Exploring Public Sentiment on Enforced Remote Work During COVID-19. Journal of Applied Psychology. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2021-56704-001.html
  5. Mushtaq, R., Shoib, S., Shah, T., Mushtaq, S., (2014). Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health ? A Review on the Psychological Aspects of Loneliness. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225959/
  6. Gautam, M., Tripathi, A., Deshmukh, D., Gaur, M., (2020). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7001356/
  7. Liu, Y., Zhao, J., and Guo, W. (2018). Emotional Roles of Mono-Aminergic Neurotransmitters in Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02201
  8. What Meds Treat Depression? Mental Health America. Retrieved from https://screening.mhanational.org/content/what-meds-treat-depression/
  9. Depression. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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