For instance, a study found high rates of PTSD and depression in firefighters.8 Likewise, approximately 100,000 active police officers in the United States suffer from PTSD, and many also live with the comorbidities of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.9 Research from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, confirmed that police and firefighters are at higher risk for mental illnesses compared with civilians, and that their exposure to trauma is related to the development of alcohol use and mood and anxiety disorders.9 In a study of military personnel, almost 25% of 5500 Army soldiers were diagnosed with a mental disorder such as depression or PTSD, with PTSD rates being approximately 15 times higher than the general public.10
The Germanwings Flight 9525 incident in 2015 brought airline personnel’s mental health status to the forefront. Indeed, the crash was reportedly caused by Andreas Lubitz, a pilot who had previously sought treatment for suicidal tendencies, depression, and psychosomatic illness. An international survey of 3485 pilots indicated that 12.6% of the sample population met depression thresholds and 4.1% were thinking about suicide.11 In addition to jet lag, the stressors experienced by pilots include long working hours, pressure from the responsibility of passenger safety, and cockpit conditions such as low oxygen levels and high noise levels. Some pilots may also be hesitant to seek treatment due to the impact this could have on career advancement.
Taxi driving is another highly stressful occupation. One study of 508 taxi drivers found that 33% presented with at least 5 symptoms of depression, which was mainly attributed to lack of leisure activities.12 Another study found that, compared with the general population, public transportation drivers had higher rates of alcohol abuse, major depressive episodes, burnout syndrome, and anxiety.13 Drivers are often required to deal with long working hours and night shifts, which could explain some of these symptoms and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Traffic jams and air and noise pollution may also have a negative influence on their mental health.