Can Pilots Take Antidepressants?

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The federal aviation administration has strict regulations on the physical and mental status of pilots. It is primarily to ensure the protection of the pilot and the passengers.

Pilots can use antidepressants based on a case-by-case basis and special medical certificates. In certain cases, additional tests may also be necessary to maintain flight status.

Approved antidepressants for pilots

According to FAA guidelines, the use of the psychotropic drug is restricted in aeronautical certification. It normally includes all kinds of anti-depression drugs categorized as serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

However, airmen in need of first second, or third-class certificates for medical compliance can be treated with SSRIs. The authorization decision is entirely based on the case for a particular pilot.

Pilots that decide on taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can only take the following approved medications:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

According to FAA guidelines, even the approved SSRI medications do not qualify. Consumption of these drugs is allowed only on a case-by-case basis.

If a pilot takes these drugs for a prolonged period. They will have to go through an additional examination.

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Can pilots take antidepressants 2022?

After the revisions in FAA regulations in 2010 pilots can now take specific types of antidepressants. The medical evaluation of pilots is conducted on a case-by-case basis and needs the issuance of a special medical certificate. 

For continued use of SSRI, a pilot may have to go through additional tests for the safety of themselves and their flight passengers. 

Can you be a pilot if you take SSRI?

Prominent aviation safety bodies like the US Federal Aviation Authority and European Joint Aviation restrict pilots from flying. It is because the treatment is known for having severe effects on the performance of a pilot.

Studies have revealed that the use of antidepressants must be addressed appropriately in a structured environment. 

If any on-duty pilot does not seek necessary treatment or declare the condition. They may face severe punishments.

Previously some rules encouraged flying even when using antidepressants. But over the years use of antidepressants has been the result of several accidents.

Can pilots take anxiety medication?

Pilots are equally prone to anxiety as people who do not fly. The feeling of anxiety from flying is usually not observed among pilots more than among the common people.

However, there are many instances where experienced pilots develop a problem after training. Aviation agencies screen pilots for evaluating anxiety and how it can harm their performance.

Pilots are evaluated based on a three-point assessment.

If the anxiety is affecting the routine and non-routine functions of a pilot. Then it is best to ground and get appropriate treatment.

One must keep in mind the legal requirements attached to the pilot license. Pilots must understand whether the anxiety is related to flying or anything else.

From a regulatory perspective, things can get more complicated. Therefore it is always a good decision to declare the issue to the concerned authorities.

The FAA always takes into account risks to a flight whether it is from a medical condition or any treatment for that condition. Mild anxiety that does not require medication is not considered a high-risk condition.

Previously depression and psychoactive medication were disqualifying for pilots. At present special issues can be made for some candidates and certain medical conditions.

The FAA accepts the idea of situational depression.

In such conditions, the patient might recover when they go through the right kind of treatment. However, individuals with relatively severe and organic disorders get banned by the FAA.

The pilot is grounded and subjected to expensive paperwork from a team of physicians before flying again.

If the pilot consumes psychoactive medication then the situation can turn even words. Any on-duty pilot taking these drugs requires special issuance. 

However, there must be a significant interval between the recent dosage and flying. Medicines like Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac, and Lexapro are permitted.

Any other SSRI category medicine is restricted. If the pilot consumes benzodiazepines they might get special issuance from SSRI.

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Can you be a pilot if you take Wellbutrin?

Pilots are permitted to take certain classes of single-use and the depressant like Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate), Prozac (Fluoxetine Hydrochloride), Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Celexa (Citalopram Hydrobromide), and Wellbutrin (Bupropion).

Pilots are permitted to take anti-anxiety medicines if it does not affect their performance on duty. However, FAA only approves certain categories of SSRIs.

Can you fly with antidepressants?

In the United States, the FAA provides a flying license to pilots only if they use one of the four SSRIs. At present, there is no international standard and every pilot licensing body follows a different rule.

Most aviation agencies do not allow the use of anti-anxiety medicines while flying.

The use of benzodiazepines like Valium used for the treatment of anxiety patients is restricted in aviation.

These can be only prescribed on an as-needed basis. It means that the drug must not consume for a prolonged period.

Unfortunately, some pilots make the mistake of not disclosing their condition. But if the authorities find out during testing they face severe punishments.

Even a few years back pilots cannot take anti-anxiety medication. They also can not declare having depression or anxiety.

These conditions automatically disqualified pilots from the licensing process. The FAA rejected issuing medical certificates to people suffering from depression or anxiety.

It was mostly stigma that FAA issued a complete ban on anti-anxiety medicines. On the other hand, the agency was worried that SSRIs will affect a pilot’s performance.

In 2010 the emulations were updated and now pilots with mild depression are permitted to fly. Even those that take certain categories of SSRIs can also fly.

What medications disqualify you from being a pilot?

According to FAA guidelines, there is no specific list of permitted medicines. The performance of a pilot may get affected by underlying conditions as well as medicines.

It is best to consult with an FAA Flight Surgeon or other Medical Examiner for evaluating medical conditions. A candidate may be restricted from flying if they take the below-mentioned categories of medicines.

Most types of antidepressants. Some conditions and medicines are acceptable after revisions in FAA guidelines.

  • Muscle relaxants like Sonata, Soma , and Flexeril
  • Tranquilizers like Librium, Valium, or Ativan.
  • Opiates like Lortab, Oxycontin, Morphine, Codeine, Percodan, etc.
  • Sedating antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Chlorpheniramine, Benadryl.
  • Antipsychotics Thorazine, Haldol, Mellaril
  • OTC medicines like Valerian, dietary supplements, etc.
  • Anticholinergics such as Zyrtec, Chlorpheniramine, Benadryl

FAA-approved anxiety medication

Some of the common medicines approved by the FAA include

  • Lexapro (Escitalopram Oxalate)
  • Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
  • Celexa (Citalopram Hydrobromide)
  • Prozac (Fluoxetine Hydrochloride)
  • Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride)

Pilots require having a medical certificate approved by FAA medical examiner before flying. As per the new guidelines, conditions like anxiety, depression, or other psychological condition do not result in automatic disqualification.

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Can the FAA see my prescriptions?

Typically the FAA does not check the medical records of a candidate until there is a reason. If a pilot discloses something that requires more information or investigation.

In the event of an accident, disciplinary action or incident FAA is likely to be investigatory.

Candidates must not try to hide any medical condition from the FAA. It is illegal and can harm pilot privileges and service.

One can fly legally even if they have a serious illness that is controlled appropriately. Pilots need to go through a paramedical examination.

However, the airlines do not have access to the medical records of an applicant. The federal aviation administration needs captains to have a first-class medical certificate.

The certificate needs to be renewed every year if the age of the pilot is below 40. On the other hand, if the pilot is 40 or older they need a renewal every 6 months.

Consumption of psychotropic drugs is disqualifying in the aero medical certification exams. It includes all varieties of antidepressant drugs including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

For pilots with health issues that are not able but can be disqualifying. Confessing the application for 3rd class medical can have both positive and negative consequences.

Therefore one should always have the right set of information before applying to become a pilot. Lying in the application or any stage of the medical assessment can have legal consequences for the candidate.

FAQ relating to can pilots take antidepressants

Does FAA allow antidepressants?

The FAA permits pilots to take specific anti-anxiety medication but not all. There are specific rules and regulations for ensuring the safety of passengers and pilots when flying.

When a pilot consuming SSRIs opts for a medical certificate the application is initially rejected and placed for review.

Can pilots take anti-anxiety medication?

Pilots are always for within from using medication for seizures, narcotics, stimulants, and anxiety conditions. As per FAA guidelines, pilots are restricted from taking OTC medication that can make them feel drowsy.

A pilot can be detained from executing crew member duty while using medication that affects their performance. The safest rule is not to lie when taking any kind of medicine.

What medications disqualify you from being a pilot?

Medicines that affect the performance of a pilot are likely to disqualify them from crew member duties. A pilot needs to have FAA approved medical certificate to fly.

Under the current guidelines anxiety, depression or other psychological conditions do not cause automatic disqualification.

Can pilots fly with depression?

FAA is likely to consider the certification of controllers and pilots that have a history of anxiety or depression. Pilots under treatment with medication can fly only after certain conditions are satisfied.

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