How drivers can cope with depression
If you are focused on something positive, it is less likely you will dwell on the negatives in your life.

By Buck Black, therapist, L.C.S.W.

The death of Robin Williams is bringing depression to the forefront. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of stigma about depression and other mental health issues. Depression is one of the most common conditions I see in the trucking industry. Missing home, disagreements with loved ones, problems with dispatchers, isolation and general boredom are all common factors that can cause drivers to have depression.

Depression is not only sadness. In fact, people with depression often do not feel sad. Common symptoms of depression include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability/anger
  • Lack of concentration
  • Slow movement
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Crying spells
  • Loss of interest
  • General sadness
  • Thoughts of suicide

Tips for improving your mood while on the road

Keep focused on the positive. All of that time to dwell on the negatives can really catch up with you. Focus on positive music or comedies and anything else that might make you laugh. Avoid prolonged exposure to negative talk radio.

Remember, if you are focused on something positive, it is less likely you will dwell on the negatives in your life.

Eat better foods. Eating poor quality food can fuel depression and anxiety. Steer away from hamburgers and fries and try more chicken, salads and healthy subs. Healthy foods are available to truck drivers, though finding them may require more effort.

Exercise. The more you move, the better you feel. It’s just how the body works. You don’t necessarily have to work out at a gym in order to get some exercise. When you park, walk a few laps around your truck or park farther away from your destination.

Keep in touch with friends and family. Communication with the outside world is very important. Remember, because you are a trucker, you are automatically involved in long-distance relationships. You have a long-distance relationship with your spouse, friends, family and so on. When discussing serious subjects, especially with your partner, use the phone (or Skype, if possible) to help with accurate communication. Text and email increase the chance of miscommunication.

Find something you enjoy. Everyone needs something to look forward to. It is very easy to get into the dull routine of driving mile after mile and feeling more depressed. Write out your plans for your next home time. It is also important to have some hobbies while you are in the truck. Find something you love and that you can do in your truck.

Remember, you are in control of your life and your happiness. No one else can make you happy, mad, or anything else for that matter.

If you feel that you or a loved one has depression or anxiety, or is not feeling well in general, an appointment with a therapist or doctor is highly recommended. LL

Buck Black is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist who specializes in helping truckers and their families with anger and stress management, as well depression and relationship problems. He does this over the phone and by Skype at TruckerTherapy.com, so truckers can make a living while on the road, instead of taking time off work for office visits. Buck’s services are not just limited to the trucking community. He frequently sees couples and families in his office who are looking to improve themselves in various ways.