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For Truck Drivers, Depression is Real

For Truck Drivers, Depression is Real

Driver Depression

The sun is shining, you got a great night’s rest, and the route in front you for the day seems manageable as you pull away from last night’s resting place. All should be right with the world. But, in an instant, you find yourself overwhelmed with that nagging feeling that everything around you is a miserable mess.

Chances are depression has not crossed your mind.

The familiar pit in your stomach returns, you feel guilty about being away from your family again. It seems as though every driver on the road makes you mad. You are afraid all the work you need to do to feed your family is going to suddenly disappear. You constantly have a hard time focusing or concentrating. For no reason, you find yourself feeling very sad and alone.

And the thoughts you have are, “What is wrong with me? I need to get over this!”

Does this sound like you? While you may think it’s all in your head, there’s a chance it could be more. What if I told you that you might be suffering from a diagnosable and treatable medical condition, clinical depression? For whatever reason, depression impacts professional truck drivers at a far greater rate than those in the general population. Living through depression myself, my guess is your first reaction might be that real men, especially truck drivers, are tough and don’t get depressed.

My reply, “Even tough guys get depressed—just ask Terry Bradshaw, Junior Seau, Daryl Johnston, or any of the hundreds of NFL, NHL, or MLB players who have come forth to admit they have suffered from depression.”

Depression is not just in your head and it is certainly not a sign of weakness. Depression is a real medical condition that impacts about 6 percent of men in general and has been shown to impact upwards of 15 to 20 percent of professional truck drivers.

Know the Signs of Clinical Depression

Know the Signs of Clinical Depression

According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is characterized by the following symptoms;

• Feelings of sadness
• Irritability
• Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Tiredness and lack of energy
• Unintentional weight loss, or weight gain
• Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
• Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
• Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
• Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
• Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Steps to Take to Get Help with Depression

Steps to Take to Get Help with Depression

If these symptoms sound like you, there are several steps you can take:

Make an appointment with your doctor: A common place to begin is an appointment with your family doctor. This person is well-versed in understanding, identifying, and treating depression.
• Seek out help through your company
: Talk to a representative from your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP is designed to offer you confidential support and information with issues such as depression.
Learn more about the condition: To learn more about depression, available resources, or connect with another man who has dealt with depression, visit the Face it Foundation website.
Don’t suffer alone: What’s really important is that you take action and seek help. Remember, depression doesn’t mean you are weak!

Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in February 2014, but we think the content is still relevant and wanted to take another opportunity to share these resources with the carrier and driver communities.

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1. Risk Factors for Depression in Truck drivers. Silva-Júnior FP, Pinho RS, Mello MT, Bruin VM, Bruin PF. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2009 Feb;44(2):125-9

2. Trucking Organization and Mental Health Disorders of Truck Drivers. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33:436–444, 201

3. The Epidemiology of Major Depressive Disorder. Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2003-Vol 289, No. 23.

- Founder of Face it Foundation

Comments

JoAnn Masterjohn

I drove in 1978, got off the road, raised my kids then went back out on the road and drove 48 states for several years. I taught my daughters to drive as well. My son wanted nothing to do with the driving semi truck. Smart kid!
I was depressed. I felt that by my decision that I was going the wrong direction. I am a woman....and I had no help raising my kids. So, when I was on the truck, I had already raised them....yet, felt I went back too soon. I felt my family needed me still. I cried. I felt miserable and nearly quit...until my kids praised me for being so strong. They still boast to everyone about their Mom that beat all odds.
Sometimes when you think you are really doing wrong, you are teaching lessons that can't be verbally taught. Actions teach a lot. My daughter still drives a semi truck. 17 years now, she's been driving and doing quite well. She gets home nights though.
If you feel that being away from home isn't what you want, learn containers or dump trucking. Get driving where you get home. Do not drive depressed if you can help it. Talk to others. Other drivers have the same problems you have. They helped me!

8.9.17

Reply

chuck snow

Great blog! Having started my logistics career from behind the wheel I have always sympathized with truck drivers. From what I know and see truck drivers suffering from depression is much more frequent now than it was years ago. Perhaps it is the stresses from increased traffic and the reality that freedom of the road no longer exists. I applaud you for writing about it.
Keep up the great work.
Chuck Snow

8.9.17

Reply

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