Today’s world is making great strides to reduce or eliminate the stigma that is associated with mental illness, including depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation, feeling sad every now and then is a fundamental part of the human experience, especially during difficult or trying times. Some signs of depression are persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and disinterest in things that were once enjoyed. Depression is an illness that affects at least 20 million Americans and is not something that a person can ignore or simply will away. Rather, it is a serious disorder that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels and thinks.

Let’s look at the 5 common causes of depression that are specific to truck drivers, and what can be done to help reduce these causes and lead to better mental health.

  1. Lack of Sleep – probably the number one contributor to a decrease in mental health. Sleep is so important, especially for truck drivers who may have differing schedules and long work hours. The best way to combat lack of sleep is to try to keep a regular sleep schedule, exercise, and limit caffeine and alcohol.
  2. Solitary lifestyle – feelings of isolation are common among truck drivers. Long hours spent in your truck with little contact with other people can be depressing. Human contact is a basic need and you must make sure you are fulfilling it. One of the best things about the modern world is our ability to connect with those that matter most to us. Ways to help with this are having pets along for the ride, using messaging services, phone calls, facetime, skype, and social media. We check in with our drivers every morning, so if you need a friendly voice to talk to, we are always here!
  3. Eating habits – physical and mental health go hand in hand with food choices. The Mayo Clinic states that several studies have found that people who ate a poor-quality diet (meaning one that was high in processed meat, chocolates, sweet desserts, fried food, refined cereals and high-fat dairy products) were more likely to report symptoms of depression. The good news is that the people who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish were less likely to report being depressed. So, cut back on less nutritious options and eat your way to mental well-being!
  4. Family Issues – missing family time is one of the hardest things to deal with as a truck driver, and time at home can often seem short and rushed. There can be feelings of guilt from not being there, especially for big-life events. There can also be a strain on family relationships due to absences. The best way to help this is to be checking in with your partner regularly, to make sure you are agreeing on major family decisions and try to celebrate the big family events when you know you will be home.  
  5. Stress from the job – changing pickups and deliveries, extended hours due to delays, and employer issues are stress points for truck drivers. The best way to resolve these is to have open lines of communication so that load changes and delays are known, and to work with reputable companies that have core values centered around mutual respect and trust.

It is never early to too late to get a handle on depression. Having a strong circle of community is key to the success. If you find yourself experiencing any of the causes above and any of the resulting symptoms of depression, its time to seek professional help. With proper treatment, depression can be controlled.

Depression in Truck Drivers: 5 Common Causes & How to Spot the Signs was last modified: by