Depression in truckers is prevalent although not widely known or discussed.
Many years ago, I worked with a fellow by the name of Doug Dickson.
He was a great guy. He seemed happy, always joking around. He was the life of the party. He always had a smile on his face.
One weekend, he went alone to Jasper, Alberta and shot himself.
I could not believe it. He was the last person I ever thought would have suffered from depression.
In America, 1.5% of the population suffers from depression. In comparison, 13.6% of truck drivers suffer from some level of depression.
However, it’s something we need to pay attention to and be aware of the signs of depression.
Why Is Depression in Truckers So Prevalent?
The driving population is mostly made up of men. Men, being men, will often not discuss the matter or seek help. Men often feel discussing depression shows signs of weakness. They are often embarrassed about the matter.
Truckers may feel they have symptoms of depression. But they choose not to discuss it and ride the wave and not seek out help.
This is not the answer to the issue.
Truck drivers are alone much of the time. Drivers spending so much time alone, have lots of time to think about things and sometimes overthink matters. This is not a healthy thing. It can bring about anxiety which in turn can be related to depression.
Drivers miss their families while away from home. Things may not be going so well with the trucking company the driver is working for. Perhaps the driver isn’t making as much money as he needs to pay his bills.
Even the time spent at home with the family can seem rushed and short. The driver often lands at home, sleeps from exhaustion, then repacks and leaves again. There is not much quality time spent with the family, which is badly needed.
The process seems to repeat itself, with things spiralling and not getting any better.
A driver can then easily fall into a depressed state.
Depression can be brought on by sleep deprivation. Truck drivers are certainly in an occupation where this is often the case. Hurried schedules, upside down driving schedules, driving at night and sleeping in the day can all cause problems with the natural, normal sleep cycles.
5 Things to Do If You Feel You Are Slipping Into Depression
i) Contact home/friends on a more regular basis. Once per day is a good idea.
ii) Take the time to relax and unwind at the end of your driving day. Or through the driving day if your schedule permits it. I like to wash my truck or read a good book in the evening, when on the road.
iii) Take a pet with you on your travels in the truck. It’s pretty common to see truck drivers walking their dogs at truck stops. It’s great to have a companion along for the ride, for company.
iv) Find a hobby. Something you enjoy. Even focusing on your health by going for a brisk walks and eating healthy.
v) Make a valiant effort to get sufficient quality sleep. Sleep at night is the best quality sleep. Try to avoid driving through the night. This may not work so well for the dispatcher or the ELD. But it’s vital to work at getting a normal schedule.
5 Common Signs of Mild Depression in Truckers
i) Short fuse. Quick temper
ii) Extra tired. Want to sleep more than usual.
iv) Not interested in things that you once enjoyed.
v) Trouble focusing on things.
If you feel your symptoms are getting out of control, and you aren’t able to manage your symptoms, seek professional help. There is absolutely nothing shameful about seeking out advice on how to best manage your symptoms.
It may even be necessary to leave your truck driving job. A job where you aren’t away from home with a more normal work/sleep schedule may be the best solution to the issue.
I pray that you never have an issue in this regard.