SPECIAL ISSUANCE for ANTIDEPRESSANTS

pilotlight

Well-Known Member
So if you have never tAken anything but want to and are flying the line currently, is it my understanding that youwould have to stop flying for a year to get qualified? How could anyone afford this?
 

GasnGo

New Member
I'm thinking about getting counseling for what I feel might be mild to moderate depression. Will a SI be required if it's diagnosed depression but only counseling is required? How long would I have to be off of meds (if they were prescribed) before I could get a "normal" first class medical, if ever? How painful is this process going to be? I'm not on with a legacy yet, and I'm concerned I could be stuck flying in the "would you like fries with that" airline world for life. I've been pretty successful at coping with it for a while now, but I'd like to get treated and cured if there is a chance of that.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
Counseling does not require a SI. If you are on medications for less than 6 months, you must be off for 90 days and a SI is not required.
 

GasnGo

New Member
Counseling does not require a SI. If you are on medications for less than 6 months, you must be off for 90 days and a SI is not required.
OK, what if I end up being on the meds for 11 months, then am able to get off of them? Is it still 90 days? Also, if I self report will I be stuck going to a shrink every year for my medical?
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
If it is 11 months, you will have to be off for 90 days and the FAA will want to review the medical records and a current evaluation from the treating physician. The medical will be deferred by the AME and issued by OKC if they so deem.

If you don't self report and get caught, they can rescind your medical and all certificates for falsifying your medical history.
 

terdferg23

Well-Known "Member"
I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I am uncertain about how to move forward with treating my depression. I've never been diagnosed because I don't want it on my medical records. I don't know if getting it looked at can come back and bite me or not. I'm not majorly depressive just extremely bland in emotions and more introverted (not in the plane) , didn't used to be like that. How do I go about seeking treatment, is it safe to do so? If I do get treated they can then disregard my medical if I don't get a special issuance?
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
There is no issue with counseling. That is the place to start. The issue comes with medication. If you are started on an anti-depressant, then you need to lookat a Special Issuance. If you are a private pilot and just fly locally, you could let your medical lapse and fly sport pilot on anti-depressants.
 

terdferg23

Well-Known "Member"
Commercially though, I would be looking at a Special Issuance? Employers still look down on this? Can't help right?
 

fftoto

Well-Known Member
If you are feeling sad or uninspired, go ahead and get the counseling. You have to take care of yourself so you feel better. One of the probelms with this issue is accepting your sadness and depression as "normal". Get help, talk with someone who knows the issues. Worry about the other stuff later. Some guys have been out of work or flew a desk during the process.. I talked with a counselor for a while; working with cognitive behavior therapy has helped quite a bit. We worked on this prior to going to the next step of medications. There are also some OTC stuff that may work, St. Johns Wort, 5-htp etc. I have been put through the ringer with this process. and still do not have my medical. I think if I had to do it over, I would take my chances on not reporting. Many people have said my only problem is I was too honest with them. I wanted to do the right thing but it has not turned out the way I thought it would. My application went to DC in July of last year. Then they made me go through the entire testing process over again because it had been over a year since my last testing, even though the FAA was the one that dragged it out. Before the holidays I spoke with them by phone and they said I should have it before Christmas and they saw no problems with any of the reports or testing. Still waiting.....I have called in the last week or two but no people to talk with, only answering machines and no one has returned my queries...
 

exneophyte

Well-Known Member
If you are feeling sad or uninspired, go ahead and get the counseling. You have to take care of yourself so you feel better. One of the probelms with this issue is accepting your sadness and depression as "normal". Get help, talk with someone who knows the issues. Worry about the other stuff later. Some guys have been out of work or flew a desk during the process.. I talked with a counselor for a while; working with cognitive behavior therapy has helped quite a bit. We worked on this prior to going to the next step of medications. There are also some OTC stuff that may work, St. Johns Wort, 5-htp etc. I have been put through the ringer with this process. and still do not have my medical. I think if I had to do it over, I would take my chances on not reporting. Many people have said my only problem is I was too honest with them. I wanted to do the right thing but it has not turned out the way I thought it would. My application went to DC in July of last year. Then they made me go through the entire testing process over again because it had been over a year since my last testing, even though the FAA was the one that dragged it out. Before the holidays I spoke with them by phone and they said I should have it before Christmas and they saw no problems with any of the reports or testing. Still waiting.....I have called in the last week or two but no people to talk with, only answering machines and no one has returned my queries...
I certainly understand the frustration fftoto. Im in a similar boat as you and am going on close to 12 months in the special issuance process. From what I can tell, there is a delay of up to three weeks from when something happens to when it is communicated to you in writing. I've been "just checking in" with them about every 3-4 weeks and had 3 instances where they told me they needed something on the phone only to get that request in the mail a several weeks later.

I think not reporting it would come back to bite you bad later on. For example, if you had a serious accident and they drug tested you, it would show up and then you'd have some explaining to do. I've seen a few accident reports where the pilot failed to report his anti-depressant usage and this exact thing happened. But now that you've reported it, thinking about what you could have done doesn't matter. You just have to look forward and figure out what you can do to get approved.

I think it goes without saying, but just remember that the people answering the phones are not the people holding up your application. It is much higher up the hierarchy. Be as polite and friendly as possible even though you are supremely frustrated. You never know, being an ass could get you your file put on the bottom of the stack or being a nice guy could get your application put on top of the asses. Hang in there and remember that at some point they will have to make a decision.
 

fftoto

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the encouragement. It is funny how being dishonest or not treating the issue at all would get me in the air quicker Most in the male dominated careers tend to ignore problems like this. In retrospect, I am happy with my decisions I have made and know I made the correct choices for me. I just wish they would not seemingly punish the folks doing it the right way. I am now over 2 years in the process with no anomalies in my application. It is like you said, just using snail mail to get info out and back has been a slow and frustrating experience. I stay polite and professional as ever in the process. I know it is no one persons fault, just a bureaucratic maze to work through. All I can do is make sure I am healthy in mind, body, and soul!! :smoke:
 

Chance

Well-Known Member
I received my Special Issuance for SSRI's last year and have been through the medical certificate renewal process twice so far. Other than the expense, it was a non-event. So if you can survive the initial process it is much easier going forward. You made the right choice in self disclosing the meds. But the most important thing for me ( certificate issuance aside) was to finally have my depression controlled and my life back on track again. Being able to fly was just icing on the cake, even though I do it for a living. I used an advocate (Aviation Medical Advisory Service, aka ALPA Aeromedical) to guide me through the SI process. Money well spent.

As time passes I feel the FAA will become more comfortable with issuing these medicals, but for now they hold all the cards and are being cautious. They have a huge responsibility. If I can be of any help: chance2462@gmail.com
 

fftoto

Well-Known Member
Hey Chance, glad things are going well. I agree on taking care of the depression. I am so much happier and engaged in life. That is the most important thing for anyone going through this. I just received this from Gary Crump at AOPA,

"I just today received an update from the FAA on the status of cases in review in Washington under the SSRI protocol. There are currently about 24 cases in the DC office that are under review, and I suspect yours is one of them. The SSRI policy got off to a very slow start, and after almost two years, there have only been 100 pilots apply for the special issuance, and 50 of them have been certified. The process is, as you now know, very tedious and expensive, and we have criticized the FAA for the slow response to the policy change, while acknowledging that they did the right thing by allowing SSRI certification.

I'm hopeful, as is the FAA, that as they gain more experience with these cases, the reviews will move faster, and they will actually relax the requirements somewhat. However, everyone who were early to apply are essentially the "canaries in the coal mine" and are being examined very closely before the FAA finally pulls the handles to issue the certificate."

So things are moving just seems it is taking forever. FAA told me to call next week, but then again I have heard that before...
 

Erau2525

Well-Known Member
Counseling does not require a SI. If you are on medications for less than 6 months, you must be off for 90 days and a SI is not required.

So if you currently have a first class medical, and take a DQ prescription lets say its an SSRI or a beta blocker (for anxiety/stress issues) for less than 6 months and get off of it for 90 days (without flying during time)... what do you need to do to be legal to fly again..? and what action is needed at your next physical?

Thanks for your time...
 

fftoto

Well-Known Member
Hey, I finally got my 1st class special issuance!!! It came in the mail with a letter to explain everything. I only need one of the test for the cognitve testing so that should reduce the yearly cost a bit. I am happy I went through the process to get help and feel better. There were some very frustrating times, delays, redundancy etc but overall I am much better off than I was. I am going up today to start to get the rust out of my brain and get a BFR out of the way. Hopefully I can get back into a company to fly on a regular basis. Good luck to anyone going through this and if I can help in any way, please let me know....
 

exneophyte

Well-Known Member
I also received my special issuance medical certificate today. As fftoto mentioned, the letter it comes with explains in great deal what is required of me to maintain my medical. Thank you to everyone who provided information and support throughout the process and a very special thank you to Dr Forred for his invaluable guidance.

I chose to get only a third class medical as I only wish to fly recreationally and only time will tell as to if all of the hurdles are worth it, but for now I'm very glad to be through the initial application process. I also would be happy to help anyone going through this process so that I can begin to pay it forward to the members of this forum.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
It sounds like you were on an antidepressant. If so, you need to be off it for 90 days and just supply a letter from the treating doc that says this was situational and the situation has resolved and you no longer need the medication. He needs to put the stop date for discontinuing the antidepressant in the letter. They will probably not require a special issuance and if you are off the medication you are only grounded for 3 months after you stop them.
 
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