Disclaimer: I’m just a pilot who went through the process without a HIMS AME
I don’t think there’s an easy or cheap way around this with those diagnoses. I unfortunately went into my initial application blindly and listed ADHD and Depression without knowing better. The process took about a year and $6000 ($4000 for an Aeromedical Psychologist and $2000 for a HIMS Psychiatrist) for my special issuance. I also have to see a psychiatrist for a report to give to an AME for my certificate renewal each year.
If you are still taking an approved anti-depressant, you probably will need to deal with a HIMS AME. As others have stated, join AOPA and their pilot protection services can offer guidance.
If you are no longer on medication and have been off for at least 6 months, you shouldn’t need a HIMS AME to start the special issuance process. At least I didn’t. What you WILL need is to see a HIMS trained psychiatrist to prepare a report for the FAA regarding your suitability to hold a cert.
Assuming you’ve been off medication for more than 6 months and have no current symptoms of depression, here is what I would do.
- Retrieve all of the medical records that pertain to your diagnoses of depression and anxiety. That includes diagnosis and treatment history. Have copies available
- Schedule an appointment with an AME - preferably one that has experience with special issuance medicals
- Fill out your MedXPress
- Bring those medical records with you to the appointment for the AME to send with your file
- Wait a month for the letter from the FAA.
- You’ll either get a letter requesting more information OR a letter stating you are ineligible due to medical history. Ironically, the ineligibility letter starts the next step
- If you receive the ineligibility letter, it will say you can reply requesting further consideration. DO THIS.
- Wait probably another month
- The FAA will then send you a letter requiring you to submit a report from a HIMS psychiatrist and possibly an aeromedical psychologist as well as further instructions
- Find the applicable doctors with experience in dealing with the FAA. They’ll also require medical history documentation, so have those copies ready
- They’ll send their reports to the FAA after evaluating you. Make sure they include the applicant IDs from the letters the FAA have sent you
- Once they’ve sent their reports, call the FAA’s Medical Certification division regularly (not more than once a day) to check on the status of your application
- Wait 1-2 months while calling regularly
- If the evaluations proved favorable, you should receive your special issuance
What you could potentially do to expedite this process is to find a HIMS psychiatrist before seeing an AME so you could have the psych’s report ready to go at the first step. No guarantee this will speed it up or the psychiatrist would perform the evaluation without a letter from the FAA.
Hopefully that helps. I understand it’s frustratingly slow and complicated, but you’ll get through it.