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Pilots and Depression: A Growing Concern

Pilots and Depression: A Growing Concern

Note: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Your life matters.

According to BBC News, in 2016, a devastating suicide and homicide occurred on Germanwings Flight 4U 9525. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, brought down the plane, losing both his life and over 144 others’. Australia’s News reports that the co-pilot was a troubled young man, with issues of anxiety and depression. It is certainly true that this incident, as with others, have truly sparked a very real conversation on support and resources for pilots and their mental health. As one person stated on Australia’s News,

“…People forget and once you have the label of “pilot” over your head, you suddenly have an S on your chest and wear a cape. As humans, pilots go through the same stresses as anyone else – relationship troubles, family feuds, financial difficulty, and countless others.”

A 2016 study published in the journal Environmental Health sought to explore mental illness as experienced by pilots, particularly regarding depression and suicidal thoughts. A total of 1,837 pilots completed anonymous surveys, and researchers found the following as indicators as factors for depression: 1) sexual harassment, 2) verbal harassment, and 3) those who use higher doses of sleep aid medication. For many pilots, treatment for depression does not seem feasible, as it could negatively impact their career.

Ultimately, airline organizations need to increase their support for pilots, including providing active resources that can be used in the event that a pilot of harassed or needs treatment for a mental illness or addiction. Signs of depression can be seen typically through the following symptoms:

  • Noticeable changes in sleeping, eating, and behavioral patterns
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate clearly
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fatigue
  • Pervasive feelings of sadness, guilt, helplessness, etc.
  • Feeling depressed most of the day, which negatively affect many aspects of daily life

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center for programs to best suit your needs. Depression is treatable, and recovery is possible. For pilots in particular, long distances away from friends and family paired with high pressure to perform could spark stress, which could lead to further mental health issues later on down the line. Become proactive in your mental health efforts starting today. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.

The Center for Professional Recovery offers individualized treatment programs for professionals in a range of industries. Call us today for information on our specialized treatment: 855-422-4129

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