I was diagnosed with clinical depression at age 16 and was on prozac for a year. During that time I coped and after six months I tried taking myself off the medication because I did not like the feeling of being medicated. I have been free of this for nearly 20 years. I have had no relapses, I have never been medicated since then. I also attribute my falling into it in the first place due to lack of coping skills since I was so young, given my life experiences since then I don't know how I let myself "slip". However, will this prevent me from ever becoming an airline pilot? I have saved up the money to go.... Even if I get evaluated and given a clean bill of health does this doom me to be forever be thrown on the "reject" pile???

  • $\begingroup$ I don't want any words of encouragement or optimism.... I really want to hear what I'm up against and if its time for me make different life plans..... $\endgroup$
    – user794684
    Apr 11 '17 at 9:46
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What jurisdiction? $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Apr 11 '17 at 10:10
  • $\begingroup$ Please see answers to this question. A flight surgeon will have the definitive answer for you; at the level of an 'internet message board answer', it's entirely possible the answer will be 'yes' you can fly. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 11 '17 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ I've read a lot about this. I can't find it at the moment, but an FAA guide for AME's and anti-depressants lays it out for them. If you a) took the medicine for less than 3 years, b) did not take any other psychotropic medicine in combination with it, and c) have been off the medicine and stable for at least 6 months then the AME can certify you. If you took it for more than 3 years, even if you are off of it now the AME must defer you for a special issuance. If it hasn't been 6 months you have to wait it out and if you are stable off meds the AME can certify you. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Apr 11 '17 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ The way the guide is written implies that if you EVER took another psychotropic med in combination with an antidepressant then you can NEVER be certified, even with a special issuance. I don't know how flexible they are with those rules, though, because that sounds unreasonable to me and that's where I'm stuck at. But it sounds like you fit a) b) and c), so should have no problem. Only an AME can tell you for certain, though $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Apr 11 '17 at 19:19

It does not sound like a dealbreaker, however I'm not an aviation medical examiner. I do not think that depression diagnosed when you were a minor would prevent you from becoming a commercial pilot now, I do not even know if you would be required to declare it to an airline on an application. The biggest hurdle you would have is the medical I would expect. You might need to have a psychiatric evaluation, or it might be far back enough that isn't necessary. It likely depends on the severity of the depression you were diagnosed with on the DSM (diagnostic and statistical model of mental disorders, a tool used by professionals to assess and diagnose mental conditions) scale.

My recommendation would be to talk to an aviation medical examiner. Many pilots deal with, or have dealt with depression, sometimes severe, so it should not be hard to answer. You lose nothing by trying.


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