With the current COVID-19 pandemic, everybody’s stress level is high. You worry about your health and your loved ones’ health. You can’t take sick leave. Trucking companies can’t close their doors, and the demand for freight is never-ending. All this, and not to mention the regular stressors of a trucker’s life, takes a toll on you. It can wear you down. Mess with your sleep. Make you feel lonely like you’re not doing enough, and even guilty for leaving your family now more than ever. All of this can lead to feeling depressed, anxious, and even thoughts or the actual act of suicide.
There is no denying that depression, and other mental mood disorders, are a major problem, especially in the trucking industry. And in these trying times, those feelings and thoughts can be triggered, especially if you have a history with them.
For more information, please visit Government of Canada’s website.
Depression in the Trucking Industry
Many people suffer from depression, 5% of the Canadian population. This stat is increased significantly within the trucking industry, where it is estimated that 15% to 20% of truck drivers are affected by clinical depression.
Why are so many truckers affected by depression? Like anything, there are multiple factors.
You’re away from your family, friends, and your home. You feel guilty that you miss the important moments that the rest of your loved ones get to experience. And to add, you’re alone for the majority of the time you’re on the road.
It’s not a secret that the trucking industry is mostly made up of men who have trouble either expressing their emotions or refuse to talk about them. Women are twice as likely to develop depression, but 75% of suicides are committed by men. Men are more likely to stay silent, to not seek how to manage depression, and let their symptoms go untreated.
Many people, men and women, stay silent. Telling themselves that they “shouldn’t feel or think these things” that they are “weak.” But the truth is, it’s not a weakness. Asking for help to manage depression (or any mood disorder), admitting it to your family and friends is anything but weak. It’s important to seek the help and the support that you need, so you can work on getting better, just like any other form of illness.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
• Feelings of sadness
• 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
Asking for Help
Confiding in someone about your depression is a scary step, but an important one. You can’t manage these feelings and thoughts on your own. Talking to your doctor, getting a counsellor, and asking for support from your family or friends is crucial. And while it is scary to open yourself in that way, to be completely vulnerable, it is a vital part of recovering and bettering yourself.
Talking to your doctor – This can be extremely helpful. You can learn about different resources to help you, ask questions, identify your symptoms, and help treat your depression. You’re in an environment where you can talk about your symptoms, but don’t have to necessarily talk about your feelings. Your doctor will be trained to help, act professional, and keep your information confidential.
Contacting crisis/suicide lines – If you have suicidal thoughts, call these lines to get help. They will talk with you, provide resources, walk you through how to get help, and even give you advice on how to tell people. They are there to help you. They are not judgmental, just be honest.
If you, or somebody you know, is in an emergency, please call 911.
Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line (Manitoba. 24/7) – 1-877-435-7170 (toll-free)
Klinic Crisis Line (in Manitoba. 24/7) – 1-888-322-3019 (toll free) or 204-786-8686.
24 Hour Crisis Line (in Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority of Manitoba) – 1-866-427-8628 (toll-free) or 204-482-5419
Contacting a counselor – After calling crisis/suicide lines, they may try to help you find a counsellor – if you want. They do not force you to do anything you are not ready for, but a counsellor is extremely helpful! And many of their counselling resources are free.
A counselor will help you navigate your emotions, to understand them, understand why you feel and think these things, teach you how to handle these thoughts and feelings, provide you with resources and information (such as classes to understand your condition better, techniques you can use, and much more).
A counselor lets you talk about what bothers you and how you deal with these emotions, and while they are not scared to tell you the cold, hard truth, they do so without judgment. And something to keep in mind is everything that you are telling them, they have heard it all before. Nothing you do, say, or even how you act will surprise them.
Telling the people that you trust – This is a big step because of how necessary it is. You need a support system to help you get through it. You don’t have to tell everybody but telling a few select people to help you through this difficult time will make it so much easy for you.