Due to the accelerated speed of adoption of work from home due to COVID-19, many of us are required to do our day jobs remotely. Can that become too much for us? Does remote work put employees at risk of depression?
Let’s take a closer look at these concerns and how we can better manage our mental health.
Am I sad or is it something more concerning?
Being sad is an emotional response to something that may have directly or indirectly affected you.
It’s important to understand that depression is a clinical mental health condition and should not be confused with feeling sad.
It is reasonable to feel sad if something negative affected you or someone close to you. Dwelling on the negative effect and not being able to move past it may eventually evolve into depression.
Episodes of major depression can last at least 2 weeks at a time. Although a sad environmental factor can trigger them, they can also seemingly come out of nowhere.
If your mood starts to interfere with your daily routine, you may be developing depression. Seeking an opinion from a mental health professional can help you receive an accurate diagnosis and explore various treatment options.
Can work from home or remote work cause depression?
It can add stress for some people
A report by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions suggests that 41% of employees working remotely report higher levels of stress compared with just 25% of employees who work in the office.
For other people, stress is reduced
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 to understand why people want to work from home, about 71% of people would like to work from home to reduce stress related to travel.
Ultimately stress felt (if any) while working from home is dependent on the individual and the kind of relationships & environment that exist at home. Some may be more conducive to work from home while some may not be
How do you manage depression while working from home?
The loneliness problem
Most of you will customarily shut yourself away in a separate room to do your work while at home.
Your initial response to this could be a relief: suddenly, you have no bosses to micromanage you or co-workers to interrupt. After a few weeks or months, however, you may start to feel the effects of isolation, which increase over time.
As a social animal, our happiness in most cases correlates to how many interactions we have had with close friends, family & co-workers. Loneliness, especially on a long term basis, can subject you to depression, frustration, and burnout.
Thoughtful and personal interactions with family, coworkers, and friends over digital means can make us feel more connected. Sending a collage of memories or a card can instantly brighten someone’s day. Having personal video conference calls using the same tools that are used for work like Skype, Google meet, etc can help us reconnect and offer a substitute for our daily meetups in the real world. Though these will not be the same as physical interactions in the days before Corona, they definitely beat passively hitting “like” on someone’s photos.