Questions about 3rd Class (Old History of Depression)

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by AnonymousAviator, Sep 1, 2021.

  1. Hi all,

    Before I go into details, I want to thank you for taking the time to read about my personal situation. I have dreamed of becoming a pilot since I was little — so any and all advice to help that dream come true is greatly appreciated.

    History of depression:
    • When I was 13-14 years old (I’m 23 now), my parents got a divorce which sent me into a depression that lasted 2-3 years
    • I worked with a psychiatrist/psychologist and received the depression diagnosis (and possibly an official diagnosis of anxiety, but I cannot recall)
    • We tried out multiple medications and eventually landed on a combo of Wellbutrin and Lexapro
    Use of medications for multiple years:
    • Eventually I stabilized and ceased seeing my psychologist and psychiatrist. I decided to have the medications prescribed by my PCP moving forward.
    • I remained on the Lexapro and Wellbutrin combo for ~8 years from initially starting them
    • I had no reason to change my medications, I was feeling great and had no adverse side effects. I wouldn’t say I was relying on these medications to treat any form of chronic depression, it was simply just a status quo that I saw no need to shake up

    Recent Medication Changes:
    • Approximately a year and a half ago I decided to stop using Lexapro (due to latent side effects I never noticed), but decided to remain on Wellbutrin
    Fast forward to today, I’m about 20 hours into training for a PPL, nearing (or overdue) the time to start thinking about my 3rd class medical. I understood that Wellbutrin was not on the FAA’s approved medications, so I started weaning off of it. Today I am near fully being off Wellbutrin.

    Now we get to my questions. I understand that a history of depression, even if I’m not currently being treated for it, could have an impact on my medical. I would classify my depression as very situational, but I’m obviously not an AME or the FAA:
    1. Is there any chance of a Normal Issuance in office, or is this basically an automatic deferral/special issuance?
    2. How long would I have to be fully off Wellbutrin to support that I am stable without any medication?
    3. Assuming that a normal issuance is off the table: What supporting documentation/examination/evaluation can I expect would be required to provide to support my case (i.e., that I am not chronically depressed and do not require medication)?
    4. Is the likelihood of getting approved higher if I decide to go the medicated route with an SSRI? (I would hate to have to go back on a medication I do not need)
    5. How long of an ordeal am I looking at? On the order of 2-3 months or closer to a year?
    6. What do you see as the biggest challenge I will face in my journey to get a class 3 medical? Is it convincing my AME? Convincing the FAA? Cost?
    7. Any other advice/experience that can help me?

    Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions and I am happy to clarify any details. Thanks again for your time!
     
  2. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2012
    Messages:
    7,766
    Location:
    KRDU

    Display name:
    Brian Flynn
    It’s a difficult one. Treatment for that long indicates a chronic (continuing) condition and not being on medicine for it will be viewed as an untreated and disqualifying medical condition. Those medicines aren’t prohibited just because of side effects, it’s also because of the conditions they are used to treat.

    do not do a medical right now. If you are denied, you’re grounded for good. Work with an AME (HIMS AME?) to determine if you can 100% pass. Until then trying to get your medical will almost certainly result in a denial. I’m not an AME, but this question gets asked here at least once a week.

    have you considered sport pilot? Gliders? Boating? With additional training and endorsements, sport can be almost as good as private.
     
  3. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    7,036
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Display name:
    Half Fast
  4. lbfjrmd

    lbfjrmd Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Messages:
    672
    Location:
    pensacola

    Display name:
    Senior AME/ATC AME
    1. Is there any chance of a Normal Issuance in office, or is this basically an automatic deferral/special issuance? No, it will be deferred
    2. How long would I have to be fully off Wellbutrin to support that I am stable without any medication? at least 2 months - better 6 months.
    3. Assuming that a normal issuance is off the table: What supporting documentation/examination/evaluation can I expect would be required to provide to support my case (i.e., that I am not chronically depressed and do not require medication)? This will come later - now you have to apply.
    4. Is the likelihood of getting approved higher if I decide to go the medicated route with an SSRI? (I would hate to have to go back on a medication I do not need) No
    5. How long of an ordeal am I looking at? On the order of 2-3 months or closer to a year? 6 - 9 months, maybe a tad more.
    6. What do you see as the biggest challenge I will face in my journey to get a class 3 medical? Is it convincing my AME? Convincing the FAA? Cost? letting the FAA do their work (time) and cost. The FAA will advise you to see a HIMS AME with their 1st response letter. If there are no HIMS AME's in your area you can apply with an AME to start the process. You need to 'drug free' for at least 2 months before applying, and due to the longevity of your treatment, 6 mo might be better.
     
  5. Randomskylane

    Randomskylane Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2021
    Messages:
    84

    Display name:
    Randomskylane
    Are you in a hurry? Are you hoping to fly for a career?

    FAA paperwork processing can take 3-4 months (source 2 people I know just getting approval on simple one page medical test submissions)

    Are you in AOPA? Sometimes they have useful information (some here don’t like them)
     
  6. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2005
    Messages:
    11,587
    Location:
    Bolingbrook, IL

    Display name:
    Bruce C
    AS we have corresponded (I think?) the problem is 9 years of meds. That tends to make the the preponderance of the doubt in favor of a chronic (docs let me on the meds for fear or recurrence) situation. Only the HIMS AME is "heavy enough" to "undo that".

    I have a different approach than Dr. Lou- not better not worse- Tennis players will understand: I like to serve an "Ace" on the opening serve. The application comes last.

    That avoids a denial which then becomes an issue for Powered gliders, LSAs, Balloons as the denial letter makes compliance with 61.53 highly impossible.

    Bruce
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021