5 Ways to Prevent Truck Driver Depression

When you have depression, it’s more than feeling a little sad. Depression affects how you think about yourself and the world. It can also cause physical aches and pains. 

About 44% of long-haul truck drivers experienced symptoms of depression in a 2020 study. Truck driver depression can be caused by isolation and stress. Drivers may feel pressure to make deliveries on time, worry about driving conditions or feel disconnected from their families. 

When paired with the potential for lack of sleep and exercise, the isolation of driving puts truck drivers at a higher risk for depression. 

Your mental health is vital to your overall health. While there’s no exact way to prevent depression, drivers can follow these suggestions to maintain their mental health.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, please reach out to a mental health care provider or counselor. Prime Good Dads provides counseling for Prime drivers. Your first consultation is free. This service is available to men and women.

1. Know the Early Signs of Depression 

The first step in maintaining positive mental health is learning about depression. What are the symptoms of depression? What does depression look like in others? Once you know what the signs and symptoms of depression are, you’re better prepared to identify depression in others and yourself. 

Depression isn’t something you can “snap out of” or dismiss. If you are depressed, you may not work, sleep, eat or find joy in life like you used to. 

There are many feelings associated with depression, including not being interested in the things you once loved. Everyone is different, but some common feelings are listed below. 

You may feel:

  • Sad 
  • Anxious
  • Empty 
  • Hopeless 
  • Irritable 
  • Guilty 
  • Worthless

Depression also affects you physically. Early signs of depression include symptoms like:  

  • Fatigue or having less energy 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble waking up or oversleeping 
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Aches, pains or digestive problems 

If you are depressed, you may have thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know has these thoughts, please seek help immediately. You matter, and you deserve to seek help.

2. Find Ways to Connect

Isolation plays a big part in your mental health. As a driver, you may feel like you’re missing out on time with friends and family. Research has shown that close relationships make us happier and help us live longer. 

Maintaining those close relationships on the road is challenging. At home, you’re around your family and neighbors. You can easily connect because you’re all in the same place. When driving, you may be solo for weeks at a time. 

Schedule Time to Talk

How can drivers fight off loneliness? You must be intentional about connecting with loved ones. (And your loved ones must be intentional about connecting with you, too!) Planning time to catch up with family and friends is essential. 

Set up times to talk throughout the week when you and your family can give each other your full attention. You can set calendar reminders on your phone or send each other your call schedule for the week. 

Today, we’re lucky to have many ways to message, call and check in with people. You can video call to see everyone’s faces or send text messages with photos from the places you travel through.  

Bring Photos 

Having a piece of home in your cab can help ground you in connection when you start to feel lonely. You can bring pictures of your family or trinkets from a great memory. When you look at these items, you’ll be reminded of those you love. 

Try Team Driving 

Team driving is also an option! You can tag-team hauling freight with another driver. Team driving comes with its own pros and cons, but it can be beneficial for people who find it difficult to spend time alone. 

3. Fuel & Move Your Body

Your mind and body are connected. Eating good food and getting exercise can boost your mood and energy levels. You may not be able to hit the gym every day, but you can squeeze in daily movement. 

Move More

Parking lot workout, anyone? Pack small pieces of equipment that you can use in a parking lot or grassy space beside a truck stop. 

A jump rope makes for an easy and fun cardio workout. If you have 10-lb. weights, you can do basic strength exercises.

You can also keep it simple. Try going on a 15- to 20-minute walk when you stop to fuel up or park for the day. 

Be Mindful of What You Eat

One symptom of depression is decreased appetite. Make sure you fuel your body by eating at regular intervals. Depending on your schedule, eating at the same time every day may not be possible, but try to eat three meals a day. 

If you can, choose healthy foods for your meals and snacks. No full kitchen makes cooking meals difficult but not impossible. You’ll have a mini fridge in your cab, and you can use appliances like portable coolers, mini slow cookers or a truck-friendly microwave. 

Stock up on ingredients for healthy, easy-to-make meals. Snacks like hummus, veggies, nuts, beef jerky, and popcorn are great on-the-go choices!

Prime Driver Health & Fitness can help you build healthy habits. Prime drivers can book free consultations for personal training and nutritional counseling. Let our team help you reach your fitness and health goals! 

4. Get Good Sleep

Sleep isn’t merely resting for the next day. Sleep is restorative. A good night’s rest recharges your body and mind, giving you more energy and a clearer head. When you’re asleep, your body works. 

During deep sleep, your body builds bone, muscle and tissue. Your cells grow and repair themselves. Your brain gathers and consolidates memories from the day. Our bodies’ unseen actions help us feel refreshed when we wake up the following day. 

A lack of good sleep is an early sign of depression, and poor sleep can contribute to feeling depressed. Set yourself up for successful rest by making your cab comfortable and leaving electronics alone before bed. 

Your cab isn’t your bedroom at home, but you can make it feel warm and inviting. Try getting a mattress similar to what you’re used to at home. Choose good bedding and pillows. Then, get curtains or shades to block out daylight or light from parking lots. 

Once you set up your cab, try to maintain a bedtime routine. Following a routine helps you feel ready to go to bed. Before bed, you could read a book, meditate or try breathing exercises. 

5. Ask for Help 

If you have symptoms of depression, it’s important to ask for help. You aren’t alone in your experience, and resources are available to support you. 

Reaching out isn’t easy, but doing so can help you cope with symptoms. With professional help, you can try medication or talk therapy to treat depression.

How Can You Find Support? 

  • Reach out to a close friend or family member first. Taking the first step to ask for help is daunting. Sometimes, opening up to someone you know and trust is more comfortable. Talk to someone you trust first before seeking additional support. 
  • See a licensed therapist or counselor. Share your feelings and experiences with a professional who can help you explore your symptoms and emotions. Therapists and counselors can provide strategies on how to cope with your depression. 
  • Talk to someone who has had depression. Talking to someone who understands what you are going through can be helpful. Their journey may help you feel seen, and they may share coping strategies that work for them. 
  • Call a hotline. Does the idea of talking to a stranger feel better to you? Calling a 24/7 hotline lets you share your experience and find resources in your area. Call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or SAMHSA’s Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find support. 

Primed For Life Counselors: Promoting Truck Driver Mental Health 

Our mental health affects our physical health and our ability to accomplish our goals. When life gets hard, Prime Good Dads offers support for drivers. 

Primed For Life Counseling helps drivers explore issues or feelings they’re experiencing. You have access to licensed counselors who practice solutions-based therapy. If you have early signs of depression, consider contacting Primed For Life! 

Visiting with Primed For Life counselors doesn’t require insurance and is tailored to drivers living on the road. Sessions are virtual, and scheduling is flexible based on your availability. 

All Prime drivers can access Primed For Life Counseling. Your first session with a counselor is free. Reach out to Good Dads for your first free call.

Call (417) 437-6364 or email us at drew@gooddads.com

Apply to Drive for Prime

Despite a higher risk of depression, over-the-road trucking is a rewarding profession. You aren’t stuck behind a desk or with an 8 to 5 schedule. You can travel while making a great living for yourself and your family. You’ll have plenty of chances to earn more money and benefits. 

As a driver, you can care for your mental health by staying connected to loved ones and seeking support. When you need help, Prime is here for you. 

Ready to be a truck driver? 

Apply now or call our Recruiting Department at 866-290-1568. Ask us about our mental health benefits and resources for drivers. 

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