Depression is a sickness that many truckers experience at some point during their lifetime. It is an illness which affects them physically, mentally and emotionally. Depression is a very real disorder which affects not only the person suffering from it but also those close to them. It causes one to be unhappy and can potentially lead one to commit suicide. Those suffering from depression usually experience sadness. They often refer to their condition as being down in the dumps.
Depression, stress and anxiety are common among truck drivers. Truck driving particularly longhaul trucking is a stressful occupation for many reasons. Longhaul driving takes a toll on family life because drivers are away from home so much of the time. Drivers face unexpected situations each day. They deal with traffic and weather conditions in multiple states sometimes all on the same day. They are pressured to make pick-up and delivery appointments. Also, they may have difficulty with directions.
Truck drivers encounter accidents, breakdowns, possible detours plus they have concerns about being in an accident themselves on a daily basis. Also they must sleep in the back of a truck and often fail to get a sufficient amount of sleep. In addition to these things they usually are limited to buying expensive food at truckstop restaurants. These situations and others are more than non-truckers have to face on a daily basis. This explains why so many truckers suffer from anxiety, stress and particularly depression.
Symptoms of depression are as follows:
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Irritablity or restlessness
- Fatigue and decreased energy levels
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering details
- Difficulty making decisions
- Headaches, muscle tension or pain
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Insomnia or early-morning wakefulness
- Excessive sleeping and lethargy
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Sleep problems
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Social withdrawal
There are several reasons as to why depression is high among truck drivers. Truck drivers have a different set of issues which affect them that don’t necessarily affect workers in other careers. A number of things can also cause them to become frustrated and become depressed. Lifestyle changes can help in some instances. However, psychologists and other mental health practitioners are the ones most chosen to help those suffering with stress and depression.
Typical situations are as follows:
- Longhaul drivers often have a sense of isolation from friends and family.
- They also often spend more hours working than they had anticipated.
- They fail to get the amount of sleep they need to be well rested.
- They experience problems with pick-up or deliveries.
- They have trouble with directions.
- They have problems with spouses or children.
Keep in contact with friends and family members while on the road. Call frequently using a hands free cell phone. Many drivers spend a large part of their driving time talking on the phone. Be sociable. Talk to other truck drivers at truckstops. Exchange phone numbers if you want to stay in contact with some of them. Many truckers become friends with fellow truckers they meet at truckstops. Fellow truckers are immensely valuable contacts because they know the challenges you face on a daily basis. Calling them can greatly improve your mood.
When you are held over at truckstops nights and weekends spend time watching movies or television in driver lounges with other drivers. Companionship of other drivers over a meal or relaxing in he driver’s lounge provides good opportunities for fellowship. This is an great opportunity to meet and become friends with other drivers.
As a rule truck drivers have terrible eating habits. Many drivers live on typical truckstop food which can be not only unhealthy but fattening as well. Far too many drivers suffer with obesity or overweight issues. While it may be difficult to choose healthy foods while on the road it is not impossible. Some truckstops do offer healthy food options so choose those when possible. Keep a refrigerator or cooler in the truck to keep fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. Also keep non-perishable foods on hand such as nuts, dried fruits, etc. You will become healthier when you eat food which is nourishing for your body.
Exercise is an instant mood booster as it releases hormones which fight stress and depression. Another advantage of exercise is that it will help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight if you don’t need to lose weight. Exercise will also improve your strength and increase your energy level. Some truckstops have excellent fitness centers. Take advantage of them. You can also keep portable exercise equipment in the truck so you can exercise even if you can’t get to a fitness center. Try Walking or jogging when you can. Whatever type of exercise you choose to do it is important to take the time to exercise at least a few times each week if you cannot do so each day.
Listening and singing along with your favorite songs is certainly a good way to stay upbeat. Those who sing along with their favorite songs often have a smile on their face and a general good feeling. Quiet music can relax and calm you. Playing quiet music at night can help you to improve the quality of your sleep.
Humor will immediately relieve stress. Funny movies or television programs are good for many laughs. Keep joke books or CD’s in the truck that you can read or listen to when you need a good laugh. Your mood will instantly improve. Laugh! Laugh! Laugh! often. You cannot laugh and be sad at the time. Remember, laughter has been referred
to as the best medicine.
Listening to spiritual or inspiration programs can motivate you, encourage you and help you to see that you can make it even though things might be tough at times. Friends can also encourage you and assist you with problems you may have. Truck driving is a unique career with its own set of circumstances. Many drivers enjoy the adventure and challenges of being on the road. The job comes with challenges but they can successfully be overcome.
Depression is a serious condition that one should not attempt to resolve on their own. Consult a trusted health practitioner that you believe would best suit your needs. Suggestions include psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health providers.
The information on this page and other health information pages on this site are for general information only. This information is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for medical advice.. We suggest that you review the information and consult with your own health practitioner for specific information and suggestions concerning your specific health needs.