Life on the road can be lonely. Leaving behind a spouse, children, family, friends or even your family pet can be difficult and lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, and depression. It can be difficult to identify your feelings, and even more difficult to ask for help but it’s important to know that you are not alone. Depression is not in your head and it is most definitely not a weakness, it is a real condition that can be treated, managed and overcome.
Many men suffer from depression; 6% of the general 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.
Depression is a problem in the trucking industry. It’s important for drivers, their friends and family and their co-workers to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression as well as ways to overcome the illness.
Know the Signs of Clinical Depression
According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is characterized by the following symptoms;
- 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
Because depression is a real condition, it can be treated. There are medications and lifestyle changes that can help you treat and/or manage your depression. The first step is to not be afraid to ask for help. The number one reason depression kills is that, for whatever reason, people are too afraid to ask for help. Remember, depression is not a weakness.
Speak to your Doctor – this is a common place to start as your doctor will be well-versed in understanding, identifying and treating depression. Speaking with your doctor is often easier than revealing your feelings to your family and friends. There is a degree of separation and a high level of professionalism that will help guide you down the correct path for treatment.
Speak with your spouse or someone you trust – Being open and honest with your loved ones can be difficult, especially for men. Talking with your spouse or someone you trust is a good way to start the healing process. Having someone in your corner at all times alleviates the loneliness of life on the road.
Research online – If you are completely uncomfortable with speaking to anyone, do some research online. There are many resources and tools available to you that can help guide you through your depression. While we are not promoting self-diagnosis, and we strongly urge you to seek out medical assistance, this can be a good first step. Resources such as the Mayo Clinic, The Face It Foundation, The Movember Foundation and more are available to help even the most tight-lipped men. Each of these sites offers tips and advise on how to deal with depression and links to resources where you can get help.
Trucking is a lonely lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to be a depressing one. If you or a loved one are showing any of the signs of depression, these resources can help. The most important thing to remember is that you are not suffering alone.