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We live in an era when many of us do what previous generations couldn’t: work from home.
Thanks to the internet, many of us are able (and at times required) to do our day jobs remotely, also called telework. But can that become too much for us to handle? Is depression a risk for remote employees?
Let’s take a closer look at the answers to these questions, as well as what you can do to maintain your mental health.
Being sad is a normal part of life. It may come as a result of environmental factors.
If you experienced a big change in your life, like the end of a relationship, for example, it’s reasonable for you to feel sadness. While sadness may eventually evolve into depression, it’s important to understand that depression is a clinical mental health condition.
Episodes of major depression last at least 2 weeks at a time. Although a sad environmental factor can trigger them, they can also seemingly come out of nowhere.
In the event that your mood starts to interfere with your everyday life, you may be developing depression. A mental health professional can help you receive an accurate diagnosis and explore various treatment options.
Listen to Mental Health America’s podcast episode about sadness versus depression.
In terms of whether working remotely is a direct cause of depression in employees, the results are mixed.
It can add stress for some people
A 2017 report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions suggested that 41 percent of remote employees report higher levels of stress compared with just 25 percent of their counterparts who work in the office.
Psychological stress can affect depression. That being said, there’s little evidence directly linking remote work to depression.
Read five ways to create a healthy, productive work space at home.
For other people, stress is reduced
In fact, some research indicates that people specifically look for jobs with the flexibility to work from home to reduce stress.
According to a 2018 survey that Mental Health America conducted with FlexJobs, about 71 percent of people would like to work from home to reduce commute-related stress.
Approximately 75 percent of survey respondents also said that working remotely could potentially help them limit stress related to distractions during the workday.
First, acknowledge it’s hard. Working from home can be hard. It has unique challenges and benefits under normal circumstances, let alone in times of unique stress such as a pandemic.
1. Call a friend
You can even have a friend record a message about their day and send it your way. And you can do the same.
Talk over the phone or via voice chat online. Simply hearing the voice of a friend or family member can help you feel more connected and social, and potentially ward off feelings of isolation.
2. Write down your goals
Depression can get in the way of your productivity, especially if you’re working from home. Having a list of measurable goals in front of you may help you visualize what you want to achieve.
Read 26 tips for being productive at home.
3. Create a daily schedule
It can be easy to lose track of time when you aren’t in an office. Creating a schedule for the day not only helps you get your tasks done, but it also pencils in opportunities to take breaks to maintain your mental health.
4. Make time to meditate
Meditation can give you a sense of balance and calm, which may provide you with inner peace and help improve overall feelings of well-being.
Even if you can only afford to meditate for a few minutes, consider the potential benefits when you’re working from home. Try a guided meditation as short as 3 or 5 minutes.
Or, try one of these nine ideas to take a break when you’re staying indoors all day.
5. Go for a walk
Going for a walk benefits your mental health as well as your physical health.
Regular, brisk walking can help improve your mood, meaning it may be worth fitting it into your day if you regularly work from home and live with depression.
Take 10 minutes or more to walk, dance, or try out some workout moves at home.
Read tips from seven freelancers to manage stress and mental health when working from home.
There’s an abundance of resources available for people who feel they may be experiencing depression, or who simply want to seek out more information for their mental health and personal well-being.
If you’re looking for a way to bolster yourself and your work-from-home routine, meditation apps can provide guided time for you to reset or create new habits.
Headspace is a popular meditation app. It offers relatively short segments in a free library for sleep and basic meditation.
Meditation may positively influence mood and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In addition to meditation apps, there are also apps focused on motivation.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in the United States offers free, accurate, and up-to-date information on mental healthcare. They also offer resource referrals.
To connect with NAMI, call them at 800-950-6264 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) also has a host of resources on their website, along with factual information on everything from depression symptoms to getting screened for mental illness. They also offer their website in a host of different languages.
Read about five affordable therapy options and other ways to access mental healthcare.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis or immediate danger, call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room for assistance.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at 800-273-TALK.
Approximately 1 in 15 adults are affected by depression in any given year, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Depression is a common yet serious mental health condition that has a negative impact on how you feel, think, and act.
People with depression may feel sadness and a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Ultimately, this may affect their ability to function. The APA estimates 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some point in their lives.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression are:
- loss of energy
- depressed mood
- trouble sleeping or oversleeping
- changes in appetite
A diagnosis often comes after symptoms have persisted for at least 2 weeks.
How to cope
The treatments for depression range from types of therapy to medication. Each case is different.
In the event that you have depression, you’ll likely find a combination of treatments work rather than just one. A mental health professional can help you find what works best for you.
Having the option to work from home is something that many people enjoy, but it’s important to remember it isn’t for everyone.
In time, you may find that you function better when surrounded by your colleagues in a social environment. It’s up to you to determine what works best for your mental health.
Keep in mind that there’s little or no information directly linking remote work to the development of depression.
A medical professional can help you determine whether you’re experiencing sadness or depression and get you the care you need. Remember, getting support is worth it: Many people with depression who receive treatment go on living healthy lives.