truck driver depression

Truck drivers spend a significant time away from home. They might not have much quality time with family and friends for long stretches of time. Truckers might spend most of their day without actually talking to anyone face-to-face. Compound this with an extremely high-stress job, and it’s probably not too difficult for a trucker to develop some feelings of loneliness and anxiety. If those feelings don’t get addressed properly, true depression can soon follow. Here are 3 ways to overcome truck driver depression.

What is Depression?

Almost everyone has days when they’re just not feeling 100% happy. Or maybe a mild stretch of feeling sad over something. But actual depression is different. It’s when these feeling last more than a few weeks. And the symptoms cause physical changes to a person’s everyday life. Symptoms can range from mild things like loss of sleep, mood swings, or lack of energy. Sometimes symptoms can be more severe, and result in someone not able to get out of bed or leave their house for days. Truck driver depression rates are almost 2 times that of the general population..

More than 17 million U.S. adults—over 7% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.  – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Tip 1: Recognize and React

Be receptive to your own thoughts and feelings. Also be accepting of others asking you if you’re doing ok. Once you’re aware that there’s an issue, you can work to make changes to help address it. Truck drivers usually have time in the evenings to do their research. Take that alone time and flip it from a negative to a positive. Listen to a good mental health podcast. Start to put together plans to begin to feel better, and stay ahead of things should symptoms arise again the future.

Tip 2: Don’t Make Things Worse

Rather than dealing with any type of problem, some people think that things will just get better or try to fix it themselves. Or some people prefer to not seek help when they don’t feel great, and just hope things go away. With depression, it’s not always just that easy. Thinking this way often leads people to try and mask systems by abusing alcohol or drugs. Or taking out anger and frustrations on friends or loved ones. Truck drivers already have a high rate of drug/alcohol abuse. Seek help as soon as you recognize symptoms. This is something that’s not just going to go away on it’s own if left untreated.

Tip 3: Plan to Stay Healthy

Once truck driver depression is being treated, it’s time to start planning ahead to make sure they stay healthy. There’s plenty of resources out there that help find ways to reduce stress. There’s plenty of ways to stay in touch with your family and friends while away from home. And lastly, there’s plenty of ways to keep your mind and body in shape with a good diet and plenty of exercise out on the road.

Changing Times

The stigma associated with mental disorders and illness continue to decrease. People with depression issues no longer need to hide in the shadows alone. There are more support organizations and resources available than there ever have been. Some trucking companies even offer mental health benefits and resources specifically to their drivers. Truck driver depression is something that can be identified, treated and overcome when the driver connects with the right resources.

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, and need someone to talk to, please seek help. If you can’t get in touch with your doctor. a great place to seek help is through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET. 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or


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Editor’s note: This is the second installment in our Trucking As a Treatment Series about depression among truck drivers.

 For some people, life seems to be an uphill battle.

Aron Borzyskowski (pronounced Boar-za-cow-ski) is one of them. No matter how hard he tries, he simply can’t escape life’s challenges.

“The stupidest things happen to me and I can’t figure out why,” says Borzyskowski, a 12-year flatbedder for UPS Freight.

“For example, I had a 15-year-old girl run out in front of my truck and commit suicide. I’m that one in a million person who it happens to. I know I didn’t do anything to cause that, but I’m still working on closure, you could say.”

That was two years ago. Borzyskowski has battled depression ever since then. While moving on has at times been a struggle for him, Borzyskowski refuses to dwell on his depression, instead finding ways to relish the new promise each dawn brings.

How He Turns It Around

When he’s having a bad day, Borzyskowski simply commits to getting through it. “I get up the next day and have at it again,” he says. “As long as I get up, I’m halfway there.”

At other times, he loses himself in upbeat films and music, savoring the distraction.

But there’s one thing that lifts his spirits more reliably than anything—practicing kindness to others.

“Making people laugh is a big thing for me,” says Borzyskowski, who has 1.8 million safe miles to his name. “I’m always trying to make people laugh. You gotta laugh at yourself every once in a while, too. I also take that extra second to say ‘You’re welcome’ to people. I’ll hold the door or help someone who needs help carrying something to their truck. It always makes me feel better.”

truck driver depressionRecently Borzyskowski even stopped to check on another driver who drove into a ditch.

“His lights were on, his wipers were on, so I stopped,” Borzyskowski says. “If I was in that situation, I would like someone to stop. I don’t understand why people don’t stop. We need to look after our fellow human beings.”

On hard days, things as simple as sharing a smile, honking his horn for a kid waving in a car, or carrying someone’s groceries fill Borzyskowski with joy that carries him through the day. He hopes others who suffer from depression can learn from his example and work to stay positive in the moment by practicing kindness.

“There is a solution for everything,” he asserts. “You can hash out family problems. You can rectify a bad day just by being kind to a stranger. When life kicks you, sometimes all you can do is get up and kick it right back.”

Borzyskowski, who is married with four kids, also reminds himself of his obligation to his family.

“You may be the world in somebody else’s eyes, and that’s where things really matter,” he says. “It could be a child, it could be a dog. But when you’re having a bad day, you have to remember that your life matters to someone.”

Check out the first story in our Trucking as a Treatment Series to learn how trucking itself has brought drivers out of their depression.

Life isn’t always easy. It’s how you respond to the hard times that sets you apart. Are you a driver who has committed to rising above life’s challenges? Connect with us here and tell us about it for the chance to be featured on Drive My Way.


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Trucking as a Treatment

According to The Road Blog, depression impacts 15 to 20 percent of professional truck drivers. That rate is much higher than the national average for depression in general (about 6 percent).

With the high rate of depression among people with CDL trucking jobs, Drive My Way decided to explore the issue more deeply and get to the heart of what helps truck drivers overcome their depression. Here, we highlight two truck drivers who found that trucking itself cured their depression.

treatmentBrian Sparks wanted out in the worst possible way.

Not out of his relationship (he already was out of that). No, he wanted out of life. He worked in a factory, had just endured an ugly divorce, was struggling to raise his son and felt like he wasn’t doing enough for anyone.

He lost custody of his son to his ex-wife and later got booted from his apartment. That’s when “I went off the deep end a bit,” he recalls. “It seemed like there was a stretch where I was losing everything around me. I didn’t feel like sticking around.”

With his back against the wall, Sparks was at a crossroads. He had to make a decision. He thought of his dad, who worked as a truck driver. “I remembered the pride he took in his job,” Sparks says. “So I obtained my CDL and started driving.”

Turning Point

It was a decision that changed Sparks’ life.

In the factory, Sparks was working 12-hour days and missing visitations with his son, who lives about six hours away from him. When he began driving for DST, LLC one year ago, however, he noticed a marked change in himself. For once, he felt empowered.

“DST definitely boosted me up,” Sparks says. Sparks rose quickly in his job, which spurred him on all the more. Today, he not only drives for DST, he also interviews drivers whom DST is considering hiring.

“I’m the one who comes in and tells them how it is,” he says. “I go above and beyond in my job. I like to help people. My manager sees I have a desire to do the job and represent the company in a positive manner. I’m solving problems and using common sense. My opinion matters. It’s built up my sense of self worth. It’s made me feel important.”

The empowerment Sparks has gleaned from his CDL trucking job has buoyed his relationships. He and his ex-wife are great friends now as they work together to raise their son. And his son looks up to him. Sparks says it’s all because his outlook has changed. “I notice a big difference in myself,” he says. “A lot of it was my own attitude, I have to admit.”

Samantha Rohweder, an expedited dry van team driver, also says driving empowered her to overcome her depression.

Until she landed her high paying trucking job, Rohweder’s life had been racked by financial hardship and bad credit. It put her in a hole for years and thrust her into the depths of despair that for a time drove her to turn to alcohol and drugs.

But Rohweder began to notice positive, lasting change about a year into her CDL trucking job. Bit by bit, she was able to start repairing her credit. As the cloud of financial hardship lifted, she started to see that she was actually happy.

Having a high paying trucking job turned Rohweder’s life around so much that she no longer needs to take antidepressants.

Every aspect of her life has improved, actually. “After six years on the road, I’m still eager to face the day,” she says. “I don’t drink alcohol anymore. No thoughts of illicit drug use. I have better relations with my kids. I’m now engaged to an awesome man and am just an all-around happier person. And because trucking is not the same old daily grind, I don’t get bored.”

For a long time, Rohweder, mom to three grown kids, didn’t have a relationship with her oldest daughter due to her depression. Today, however, the two have a normal parent-child relationship and share in life’s special moments.

“It was the freedom and confidence of driving that empowered me to change,” she says.

Sometimes truck driving is so much more than just a job. For more great content on how trucking jobs change lives, follow us on Facebook here.


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