Depression/suicide counseling for 13-year old and future effects on FAA medical

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by Concerned father, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. Hello all,
    My daughter (age 13) has recently confided in me that she has has been experiencing depression and possible suicidal thoughts lately, possibly stemming from relationship issues at school, and I'm sure that the isolation of COVID-19 is not helping any. She has asked if she can see a therapist. I do think this shows a lot of wisdom on her part.

    I do wonder if any of this is young teenage drama, especially the relationship stuff, BUT I don't want to dismiss any of her concerns if they are valid. I want to get her the help she needs, if she needs it. I'd rather get her help she doesn't need than vice versa.

    She has expressed a slight interest in learning to fly, so I also don't want to do anything that would jeopardize a future medical (especially if it's really just hormones and the current isolation).

    I obviously want to get her help first, but I also want to be careful and not cause her problems down the road like we read about all the time here with ADD/ADHD diagnoses, if possible.

    I'd appreciate any advice or stories from anyone who has encountered similar issues.

    Thanks.
     
  2. pmanton

    pmanton Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    The first and major concern should be for your daughter's well being.
    I lost a beautiful 16 year old granddaughter to this. Years down the road I still can't think of this without tears.
     
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  3. overdrive148

    overdrive148 En-Route

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    The best thing you can be is supportive - if it's real enough for her to be concerned, definitely take her to see a therapist. Isolation and hormones can possibly exacerbate underlying issues too. It is far better to address it now than let it become worse down the road, speaking from experience.

    Someone I know who has had these issues wished they'd seen someone about it around that age, but has since taken their issues head on with therapy and medication and come out on the other side.

    @pmanton, sorry for your loss. My daughter is 7 months old today and I already can't imagine what that would be like.
     
  4. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I agree with the above sentiments. A stitch in time saves nine. Not doing what is needed now because one is worried about 20 years from now? As a retired AME and physician, I would rather play safe and then decide if I overreacted later. The heck with flying for now.
     
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  5. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    The whiff of slight interest in learning to fly should not prevent providing the care she needs to be mentally healthy.

    As Doc Bruce likes to say, "Health First, Fly Later"

    Keep a journal of what, who, and how this is handled. Keep, obtain, and maintain diligent records. Then if years down the road she wishes to fly, you have what is needed to satisfy much of the documentation burden the FAA will put on you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2020
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  6. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Kids (other kids) can really suck, be sure you have gotten to the bottom of the issue with her. Make sure she isn't being abused or bullied in school (or elsewhere), and don't be surprised if she is unwilling or embarrassed to share what is going on if something is up.

    I'm apparently a prude, but I insisted my 13 year olds did not get into "relationships" of the romantic kind at that age, I never cared that everyone else was doing it. I insisted they wait until at least 16 to go out on dates and told them even then school comes first. They followed my instructions, for the most part lol. They didn't end up with a lot of the drama other kids had with romantic relationships.
     
  7. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I often wondered what would happen if I had to raise my two girls w/o my spouse.

    They had their issues.

    But like Aggie mike sez, you gotta survive to get to fly. Do what you need to, for their wellbeing and survival and we'll cope with the back end when you get there. But they have to "get there" first.
     
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  8. MountainDude

    MountainDude Pre-takeoff checklist

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  9. Thanks all for the responses. I do want to clarify something, though...

    Of course we're getting her help. That isn't the question. No doubt we want to help her.

    What I want to be careful about (similar to the ADD/ADHD cases mentioned in my OP) is not unintentionally doing something that will destroy chances of flying in the future if other options are just as good.

    Such as:
    - If the therapist determines that her depression, etc. are due to relationship issues, would it matter if they documented it as "relationship counseling" vs "suicide counseling"?
    - If there is a prescription that comes out of it, if drug A would help but be permanently disqualifying for a medical, but drug B is just as good but not disqualifying.
    - Does the type of therapist matter?
    - Does the way in which it is documented matter?
    - Should I pay cash and try to avoid a record being created?

    This is a field of medicine that I really don't know anything about, so I don't want to accidentally mess up her future IF other options are available that are just as good.

    I just keeping thinking of the ADD/ADHD cases we see all the time on here, where someone was prescribed something when they were 10, probably didn't really need it, took it for a month, haven't had any since, but it still causes problem on their medical.
     
  10. catmandu

    catmandu Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    My sympathies for your fatherly predicament. A first step might be pastoral counselling, for an objective view. It worked for us to discern angst from issues. No records.
     
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  11. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach

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    This is a very positive idea. -Skip
     
  12. AKiss20

    AKiss20 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If someone is at the point of expressing suicidiality (the OP explicitly said that their daughter communicated possible suicidal thoughts), they need to seek professional help, not your local pastor. This stuff is not to be taken lightly. I am a mandated reporter within a university context, if a student came to me expressing any kind of suicidal thoughts I would be legally required to report and assist the student in obtaining professional help.

    This is also a sore point for me that pastoral counseling is not reportable but any form of professional counseling is (minus the explicitly exempted marriage counseling). Those of us who are non-religious or atheist do not have the option of seeking religious counseling for non-crisis counseling and basically must seek reportable counseling. The underlying issue is of course still the FAA's draconian view on counseling and heavy handed approach to all mental health issues that promotes avoidance of seeking help.
     
  13. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Of course you have the option of seeking religious counseling if you are non religious, you choose not to seek that type of counseling, which is fine but that is your choice, don't try to impose it on everyone else. There are many pastors who are qualified and trained to give counseling and give excellent counseling including to get medical help when necessary. Don't let your bias pollute legitimate advice.
     
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  14. AKiss20

    AKiss20 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yes my bias of not wanting to see more children, teens, and adults die of suicide because they sought non-professional or inadequate help. :rolleyes:

    I bet you would change your tune of "don't try and impose it on everyone else" if suddenly only specific officials of specific religions were non-reportable, excluding whatever faithyou may hold. I am not against pastoral counseling, if it works for you great. I am against that it is given preferential treatment by being excluded from reporting requirements when, as you yourself said, it can be equivalent to some other forms of counseling which is reportable when sought outside of a religious context. My desired solution, by the way, is not necessarily to have pastoral counseling be reportable, but rather to reform the medical system to make counseling more accessible and less problematic for obtaining a medical.

    That being said, again if someone is at the point of expressing suicidiality, they need professional, medical help. Expressing suicidal thoughts can be sufficient to have an individual held for psychiatric evaluation (I have had loved ones and students held under such orders before).
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
  15. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Line Up and Wait

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    I doubt anyone here will answer your question. No one has even made the effort yet. This is not the place to get an intelligent answer to your question. I don't post anything on this board anymore because all you get is a bunch of opinions on things you didn't ask. Reading comprehension simply doesn't exist here.

    Just about every response above is people telling you to get professional help, even though you clearly said that was what you were going to do in your first post.

    I have no knowledge on the subject so I can't help you either. You now have one more post from a person who can't answer your question but feels the need to express and opinion.... I hope you find an answer to your question. I think you are right to attempt to gain some knowledge on the subject before you allow doctors to use your daughter as a science experiment.
     
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  16. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Your mind is made up and it's not correct, there are clergy who are trained therapists. But enough of this sidetrack.
     
  17. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    My wife had a former riding student 20 odd years ago that had similar problems at about the same age. Never got the professional counseling we pleaded for her parents to get for her. Seemed to straighten herself out. Went on to a good college, then vet school in Texas and turned into a lovely young woman. Got married to a nice young man. Then one day, a year or two after having a child, she went home, cleaned the house, put dinner for the family in the fridge, and poisoned herself.

    Heartbreaking.

    Take care of her. Flying is for another day.
     
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  18. Rushie

    Rushie Pattern Altitude

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    I encountered a similar situation with our second daughter when she was 15. She never mentioned suicidal thoughts but she was extremely unhappy, yes I would say depressed, and the problems centered on school. She had been separated from her childhood group of friends with a school change, and didn’t fit in with the mainstream kids at the new school. She began to hang out with a marginal “goth” crowd, dyed her hair black and wore all black clothes. She expressed anxiety about gangs near the school. She said she was very bored, learning nothing, complained that the teachers spent most of their time trying to discipline unruly classmates, and then loaded her with homework for the evenings. She was sleep deprived. We met her bus at 6:00 am and she came home at 4:00 pm and then homework, she had no time for fun. She was at the end of her rope, maybe she had suicidal thoughts but didn’t mention them.

    We had already taken our eldest to a psychologist when she was in high school when the teachers suggested she might have ADHD. Her problems were a little different, she wasn’t depressed, just inattentive and bored. The psychologist tested her and found she had a high IQ (and was negative for the ADHD) and suggested we switch her to the “gifted” classes which we did and that fixed her. She is now a successful nurse.

    So I suspected the younger might have the same issue but she was already taking advanced courses. So I asked her if she might like to homeschool. She took the ball, put together a presentation on homeschooling and brought it to her dad and me. So we pulled her out of school in the middle of the tenth grade and homeschooled the rest of her high school.

    The turnaround was immediate and amazing. She dropped the black outfits and the emo mood, and became bright and relaxed, she became interested and engaged in the lessons, studied hard for four hours each day, had free afternoons for activities, free evenings and began getting full nights’ sleep. She was an autodidact, all I did was provide the materials, and a little help with math.

    The two other things that bothered her were acne and she had badly misaligned teeth, so we got her orthodontics and medication to control the pimples. These also seemed major contributors to her unhappiness but the biggest thing was the school. She went on to graduate college, made lots of friends and is now a well adjusted 30 year old, married with a career as a business consultant and analyst.

    Since my husband and I both went through FAA medical certification and are well aware of the pitfalls, we were very conscious of the impact of our decisions with our girls. That is why we would never have allowed them to put our eldest on ADHD meds without a formal diagnosis by a qualified professional, and we went to an extreme to help our youngest, if you call pulling her out of a miserable school experience extreme, rather than “try” an antidepressant or something.

    But every child is different. I have an adopted niece who had severe depression alternating with mania from a very early age. My brother and his wife attempted to get a diagnosis early but apparently they don’t want to label you bipolar until you reach adulthood; they finally did, and they finally got her stable on medication which she will need for life. She knows she will never qualify for a pilot’s medical or even such things as firearm permits but with treatment she is doing very well. She married just the right type of man who has a talent for loving this challenging but very warm hearted woman, and they now have three young children. She is turning out to be a fantastic mother, very loving and fun loving... as long as she stays on her meds.

    So all I can suggest is, like the others say, take care of her health first, but with awareness of not jumping to certification damaging meds or treatments without confirming the necessity with professionals, and even then, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Had we not thought of homeschooling, it’s possible that goth crowd might have got her into drugs to try to ease her pain, or cutting, I know one of them went on to cutting and last I heard was doing badly.
     
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  19. JCranford

    JCranford En-Route

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    Once you decide on a professional approach, I would as her father, discuss your concerns about diagnosis and medication with the counselor regarding future FAA dealings.
     
  20. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    May also want to involve an AME as a consultant for alternative medications, if meds need to be prescribed.
     
  21. Fracpilot

    Fracpilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    First and for most in this issue is her health. My wife is a licensed professional counselor and specializes with teens.

    If you live in Texas, I can PM you her contact info. My wife is licensed in Texas. She has been seeing her TEXAS clients using HIPPA compliant video software.

    I wish you the best of luck getting her assistance. You can also find therapists near you through PsychologyToday.com


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  22. timwinters

    timwinters Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    QFT!
     
  23. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    For the benefit of my reading comprehension, could you please point out where in this post the OP clearly says that he is getting his daughter professional help?

     
  24. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    The national suicide prevention hotline is: 1-800-273-8255. I believe the OP and anyone in a similar position should give them a call.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2020
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  25. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Not to mention part of that game is imaginary in the first place. :)
     
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  26. MacFly

    MacFly Line Up and Wait

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    I understand completely. You want to get her help, but you want to be careful about how the nature of that help and how it's documented might affect her future. I think that's smart. Doctors and counselors tend to be occasionally casual and even careless about how they document medical and mental health issues, and how they're coded. An incorrect or carelessly worded dictation, or mis-coding a diagnosis can unnecessarily follow a person around for a long, long time and exclude future opportunities to no good purpose.

    Presumably by this time, this issue is already progressing toward resolution...I hope so....but at the beginning, I would have had a frank discussion with the psychiatrist/psychologist/counselor and let them know my expectations regarding the paperwork and documentation associated with this treatment, and make sure they knew that I'd be reviewing the records for inaccuracies, discrepancies, or statements that might vary from the actual facts.
     
  27. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    I banned Dating until her senior year in college. She wants to be a surgeon. Boys would be a distraction from that demanding goal. Blame Father
     
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  28. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Health first, flying second.

    a visit to a therapist can be worked though, especially given youth and the times. A suicide, not so much.
     
  29. Tarheelpilot

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    That’s funny right there...
     
  30. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There is no book on how to raise kids. You can over protect them, or you can try to raise them to be independent. you can provide a safe haven or you can expose them to “real life“. Not one size fits all parents or kids. How one handles “life” is an individual decision for each parent, and different for each child. As we all learned by age 5, “life ain’t fair so cowboy up”. I learned it as a child, as a parent, and now as a grandparent. Do what you think is right and accept and live with the consequences. This young lady needs some help or maybe she doesn’t, but flying is the least of my concerns right now. At age 13 I wanted to fly jets for the USAF, then NBA player, then coach/teacher, then microbiologist, wound up being a “damn doctor”. Parents were supportive, but they really didn’t encourage or discourage any of these “stages”, thank goodness.
     
  31. MacFly

    MacFly Line Up and Wait

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    Adolescent daughters and dating.....some of you fathers may have an incomplete understanding of the physiology of testosterone and/or estrogen.
     
  32. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Don’t think so...
     
  33. boarderdude119

    boarderdude119 Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi Concerned Father!

    Another concerned father here (although my children are much younger), who is also a CFI and has a history of teenage depression.

    Bottom line up front, I’d like to share a bit of my own story, in hopes of encouraging you and your daughter that it’s very possible to fly given a teenage history of depression and/or suicidal thoughts; as well as to say that those on this thread are absolutely correct in “health first, fly later.”

    Although I’m currently in my early 30s, when I was 13 years old, I began experiencing depression and sometimes even suicidal thoughts that I received therapy and Prozac for at the time. I had some situational aspects to it; as my family life and the world around me (with dad as a Delta captain at the time) was changing significantly post 9/11. Plus, like most 13 year olds, you’re starting to think romantically about the opposite sex and hope they in turn find you acceptable!

    But long story short, I was on medication and in therapy until about age 15, when after I’d skipped my medication for a few days I’d noticed a significant improvement, I quit taking Prozac, plus I’d gotten closer to God and my parents. My depression at this point was as good as gone and/or in remission. On a side note, in my very humble opinion given my experience, I would start with counseling then work your way up to medication if appropriate with her, that way you really figure out what your daughter’s needs are. But I’m no medical professional so take it with a grain of salt!

    Fast forward to age 24 in 2014 when I’m going for my private pilot license, and my first third class medical. I told the truth about my history with depression, since the question was worded “have you EVER in your life...” The FAA AME requested a letter from my primary care physician that I was okay to fly as far as depression/suicidal thoughts are concerned, and once I got that letter and handed it to the AME, I was issued my third class medical. All I got from the FAA after this was a confirmation letter that my third class is in fact issued along with the admonition not to fly if I’m experiencing any symptoms per 61.53 (pardon my reference if I’m incorrect here).

    I’ve been able to report “previously reported, no change” on every medical since then, even when going for the first class I currently hold. All in all, given my experience, you shouldn’t have too much trouble, especially if lots of time (year or more) has passed between the last bout of depression and applying for the medical certificate.

    However, the medical guidelines and rules may have changed since then, and since I’m not a medical expert, someone like Dr. Chien would be way more qualified to advise you. I just pray you and your daughter can find some encouragement in my story with teenage depression. Good luck and God bless!
     
  34. PeterNSteinmetz

    PeterNSteinmetz Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Yes, GermanWings Flight 9525.

    The FAA has become much more prying about all psychiatric illnesses since then.
     
  35. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Interesting side note, in 1956 or 57, a TWA airliner flew into the Sandia mountains east of Albuquerque, NM. The official cause was pilot suicide, but was never made public. About 30 years later, after the pilot’s family had petitioned for many years, the official cause was changed to navigational error. Only then was I aware of the original cause. It was a different time for sure, but the FAA was trying to encourage aviation.