Real Answers from Real Pilots

SSRI & 3rd Class

Hello,

I am 24 years old and just starting on getting my private pilots license while I’m still active duty army. In December I started a very low dose SSRI (one of the 4 approved ones) to help with minor depression. The other day I saw my local AIM to start working on my 3rd class medical. Other than the SSRI, he said my packet looked great, no other issues. However because of it, I have two options- get off of the med OR be on for 6 months stable, and then go see a HIMS AIM.
I’m thinking it would probably be easier for me to just get off the medication because I lived my life fine for 24 years before starting them. However, I’m curious on other peoples similar experiences with the HIMS AIM. Is the HIMS AIM able to make the final recommendation to the FAA, or will they just refer me to yet another specialist, costing more time and money?

Again I realize this is medical related and cannot warrant advice. I am solely looking for similar experiences.

Thanks!
Rachel

Rachel,

You will have to go through the process as outlined by your AME. Two things that I would point out is that you really should be applying for a first class medical as that is what you will need to be a professional pilot, so it makes sense to apply for that. The standards for a third class are less stringent, but that will not allow you to fly for a living.

My other question would be if you lived your life fine for 24 years without meds, why did you start taking them then? I would think that you will need to answer this question at someplace along the way to certification.

Chris

Rachel,

If you decide to stay on your meds for 6 months, the HIMS AME is the one to give the final recommendation, but every situation is different. They may also want you to see some specialists too like a Board Certified Psychiatrist, Neuropsychologist, etc. But again, I don’t have the answer.

In regards to staying on or coming off your meds, you should consult your prescribing doctor before making any decisions. Mental health is delicate.

Tory

I always tell people with Medical questions to join AOPA with their premium membership (like $130) and get an Aviation Lawyers opinion. The membership includes a free consultation and also some safe guards for loss of medical. (The reason I always suggest this is because they are your advocate and provide confidential attorney client privilege, where as anything mentioned to an FAA AME is reportable to the FAA).

This link is to the FAA page that has all the information you want. Including 2 flow charts of the process if you discontinue use, or continue use.

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/app_process/exam_tech/item47/amd/antidepressants/

I am not a lawyer or doctor and am not giving you advice on what to do, only mentioning what I see looking at this site as a lay person.

If you discontinue use, after 60days you can apply for 1st Class medical and AME should have discretion to issue you a certificate if they believe you meet all criteria.
If you continue SSRIs the process is out of the AME hands and will ultimately be decided by the HIMS AME & FAA (longer process, likely cost more money, no guarantee either).

Its ultimately a medical issue. One the patient and their doctor should go over together. Once the decision is made, the AME can walk through either process. Look over the link I posted.

I appreciate your continued service to our country and hope all the best with your flying career. Keep us up to date and ask any questions you have.

Chris F