One in three suf­fer de­pres­sion

Tak­ing care of you, not just the rig

Big Rigs - - NEWS -

EVERY driver knows to be at your best, your ve­hi­cle from the hood to the tail light must be in work­ing or­der.

You shine your chrome, dou­ble check your air pres­sure and run over your lengthy list of safety steps to en­sure your op­er­a­tion is per­form­ing its best. How­ever, sadly, when check­ing over the con­di­tion of equip­ment, a driver rarely stops to con­sider their own con­di­tion.

Clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Adrian Allen, of Saint Vin­cent’s hospi­tal, ex­plains why it pays for driv­ers to treat them­selves as well as they treat their rigs.

Es­pe­cially when it comes to men­tal health.

“When we talk about de­pres­sion, what we mean is feel­ing sad or down for at least a cou­ple of weeks, along with other feel­ings like not en­joy­ing things as much as usual, pulling away from peo­ple, low mo­ti­va­tion, dis­rupted sleep and feel­ing more guilty than usual,” Dr Allen said.

“There are var­i­ous con­cerns that peo­ple may have about de­pres­sion. Some peo­ple be­lieve that they shouldn’t be af­fected by de­pres­sion if they have good life cir­cum­stances. Peo­ple may be wor­ried that telling some­one that they feel de­pressed might be a sign of weak­ness or that they might be judged neg­a­tively. On the flip side, peo­ple may be con­cerned that if they ask a friend if they feel de­pressed that they may make them worse.”

Re­search, how­ever, re­veals de­pres­sion is quite com­mon and af­fects about one in three peo­ple over the course of their life.

For driv­ers there are a num­ber of chal­lenges that can add to their state of well­be­ing.

Th­ese can in­clude long hours on the road, fa­tigue and iso­la­tion.

❝there For driv­ers

are a num­ber of chal­lenges that can add to their state of well­be­ing

“The pres­sure to make ar­rival dead­lines can also be stress­ful,” Dr Allen said.

“Driv­ers may also find that the time on the road can be hard as it means time away from friends and fam­ily,” he said.

“Fi­nally, driv­ing or stay­ing overnight in re­mote ar­eas may make driv­ers feel iso­lated and make it harder to get help if they need to, ei­ther for their phys­i­cal or men­tal health.”

More hours in the cab can mean driv­ers have less chance to en­gage in ac­tiv­i­ties that can be good for men­tal health.

Th­ese might be things like ex­er­cise, so­cial­is­ing, get­ting enough sleep and eat­ing reg­u­lar healthy meals. It also means more time be­hind the wheel, which in it­self can be drain­ing, as well deal­ing with traf­fic and other road users, which can be stress­ful.

There are, how­ever, a num­ber of tools that can as­sist in main­tain­ing good emo­tional health.

“As much as pos­si­ble, it’s help­ful to get reg­u­lar ex­er­cise even when on the road (even if that means a 20 minute walk each day),” Dr Allen ex­plained.

“Try­ing to keep in reg­u­lar con­tact with friends and fam­ily when on the road might also be help­ful. Another use­ful ap­proach is to plan en­joy­able ac­tiv­i­ties for the times when driv­ers are at home and also when on the road as much as pos­si­ble.”

One op­tion is to speak to a GP who can ad­vise on ways to get help, which may in­clude see­ing a psy­chol­o­gist to help learn skills to com­bat anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

“There are also on­line

cour­ses that give in­for­ma­tion on how to han­dle anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. One ex­am­ple is THIS WAY UP, we have sev­eral self-guided cour­ses that peo­ple can do on­line, which teach skills to han­dle

anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion,” he said.

More info is at thiswayup.org.au.

If peo­ple are in cri­sis, call Life­line 13 11 14, the Sui­cide Call Back Ser­vice 1300 659 467.

PHOTO: PIXELCI

WAY FOR­WARD : There is a way ahead if you can recog­nise and ac­knowl­edge symp­toms of de­pres­sion.

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