I took an SSRI in 2020 for approx 9 months. I disclosed it during my medical process. Here I am 22 months later just waiting. The FAA has had my case in Washington since May of this year. This process is completely ridiculous. I’ve never taken any medication before or since. I was kicked out of a very good job after 15 years to make room for the new bosses person. It was distressing I admit. It was a one time issue and I’ve moved on.
You may think the process is “ridiculous”, but especially since the Germanwings accident, aviation authorities are going to be very careful about allowing people with histories of depression or the use of anti-depressants (even without a diagnosis of clinical depression) to get in the cockpit. The increasing tendency of physician to prescribe psychoactive meds over the last 30-some years has increased the number of applicants with histories of those meds. At the same time, budgetary constraints have limited the number of people the FAA has to review these applications. The result is a very long backlog.
Contributing to this problem is the lack of knowledge about the process among those applicants. They often start the application without a clue of the obstacles created by a history of SSRI use and do not provide all the information the FAA will want to evaluate and approve the application. The result is a long series of back-and-forth involving letters from the FAA requesting more information, inadequate responses, and then another FAA request. Since the FAA is so buried in these applications, it is usually months between submission and reply.
This could all be sped up if flight trainers would sit down with folks starting training and explain the medical process, including advising them of the list of “show-stoppers”. The trainee should be advised that if they have anything on that list in their medical history, they should obtain competent advice from a source like AOPA's Medical Help desk on how to proceed, and whether or not success is likely. That way their initial application will contain everything the FAA is going to want, and there's no series of long delays while the FAA looks at the latest input and then asks for more information.