Life on the road can get lonely, especially when you’re leaving behind a spouse, children, or even a beloved pet. Despite this, many drivers still cannot imagine life without the open road – after all, trucking runs in the blood. For many other drivers, being away from the familiarity of home for days, or even weeks, on end can get depressing.
The word “depression” is all too often associated with temporary sadness, and in reality, it is a much more serious issue. Depression effects many truck drivers in a physical, mental and emotional way – but why is depression so prevalent in the trucking industry?
Many people relate the amount of depression in the trucking industry to being alone for long periods of time, while others believe it is due to sleep deprivation. No matter the reasons, depression is a problem in the industry, and it’s important that drivers and their friends and families are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, as well as ways to overcome the illness.
It can be hard to differentiate between situational sadness and depression, and of course, we all cope in different ways. Although, there are a few things that will help you recognize depression within yourself. Here are some of the signs to look out for:
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
- You’re constantly sad or upset.
- You get angry, agitated or frustrated easily.
- You no longer find pleasure in things you once enjoyed.
- Unexplained physical pain.
- Sleeping too much or sleeping too little.
- Unexplained weight loss or gain.
Many mental disorders, such as depression, are genetic, and therefore, unavoidable. Knowing this, it’s important that those suffering with depression know that there are many other ways to cope with mental illness. Here are a few tips for overcoming depression on the road:
Speak to a physician about medication. Medication can assist many people that are struggling with depression, but it’s very important to find the one that works best for you. A physician will help you work through your symptoms, and recommend the best option. It’s important for those taking a specific medication to do research and understand all of the side effects of the medicine.
Find a rewarding hobby outside of trucking. In your downtime, spend time doing things that you are proud of and/or something that make you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s as simple as spending more time with family, or making time to help out a local charity, you won’t be disappointed with this decision.
Make sure you’re getting enough exercise. Exercising not only makes your body healthier, but it produces endorphins that increases feelings of happiness. Finding time to exercise isn’t always easy, but try to make it a priority, especially when you’re feeling down!
Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. It’s so easy to push healthy eating to the back burner on the road, but eating better will help improve your mood, as well as keep you energized and feeling healthy.
Be social. Yes, you are probably in the cab of your truck alone quite often, but make sure you are socializing with other drivers at truck stops. Human interaction is extremely important when it comes to feeling happy and valued.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP. As a truck driver, this may seem impossible, but it is extremely important. Sleep not only helps you feel rested, but it also improves your attention and all around mood. So the next time you’re debating whether to take a nap, or driver another couple of hours, take the nap.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Depression isn’t easy, and you don’t have to go through it alone. Speak to friends and family about your feelings, and reach out to a trusted physician. Help is out there!