Considering Antidepressants
Hi all. I'm a 140hr PPL with a special issuance for anxiety and depression. Times have been quite rough this last few months and I am considering grounding myself and going onto an SSRI for help. I have had poor experiences with them before but my doctor recommended a new one Wellbutrin. As far as I know, this is a DNF medication and I would not be able to get a special issuance regardless of how long I was on it.

From what I understand, I would be grounding myself and after 60 days of doing well I would be reconsidered by an AME. Do I have to send the AME a notice that I am going on antidepressants or can I simply just stop flying?

Is there any advocacy out there for getting Wellbutrin on a special issuance basis? Just wondering.

2 Replies
Matthew,  all of the SSRIs are DNF medications; the other four are just ones that CAN be approved on the SSRI protocol. I would say:

First, get the help you need, but please, not from a PCP. Get referred to a board certified psychiatrist.  the accuracy of diagnosis that he provides will be of immense help once you see fit to return to flying.

Second, If this is the one and only episode in your life of requiring depressive/anxiety support, you can usually be recertified if there is good DETAIL records and you have been discontinued 60 days of record (60 is the spec, they like 90). But if you have had to have had psychiatry support at any earlier point in your lifetime, you may have no choice but to return to the air on the  SSRI program (on one of the HIMS certifiable four meds only). I write this because you essay that "I have had poor experiences with them before", which suggests a prior episode.

You see, if you have had two episodes, FAA warrants that OFF MEDS, you then have recurrent disease that has recurred, and you would then be reapplying off meds (Decision path 1) which is  100% denied: Recurrent disease that has recurred, now untreated and unmonitored, is ALWAYS denied.  

So have no mis-conceptions: in psychiatry,  "I'm all better now" isn't necessarily equal to certifiable..

I would say, do what you need to do to be well-->and get to a board certified local psychiatrist for guidance. It may matter less for the ON SSRI protocol, if you use wellbutrin NOW.  What matters more is if you have "recurrent disease".
1069 Posts
No need to tell the FAA about it until you want to fly again, at which point you'd have to jump through some major hoops before flying.  But I can see a number of issues arising out of adding Wellbutrin to your prescription list which could permanently ground you, so don't even get it prescribed until you know what the consequences might be.

As such, you would be well advised to consult a medical certification expert like Dr. Bruce Chien (whose posts you'll see in other threads here).  Obviously, your health needs to come first, but starting on a new regimen for anxiety/depression without knowing exactly what the long term effect that will have on your FAA medical certification options would be most imprudent.  If Bruce respond here within a day or two, contact him via his website