Posted by: Garfield | 2009/08/21

Anit depressants &  flying

Dear CS
I hope you &  Kitty are well on this sunny Friday!

I have a question for you regarding commercial pilots and anti-depressants. Apparently they can be fired for taking them as they are strictly prohibited by avaiation rules due to impairing concentration, causing drowsiness etc?

My Fiance, I am convinced, is depressed. He has terrible mood swings and horrible temper tantrums where he is just down right nasty to me. This is followed by periods of quietness and demotivation. He has no ' real reason'  to be depressed - has a great carreer, family that loves him, and he says he is marrying the love of his life (me) - although lately i doubt it as nothing I can do seems to keep him happy and he gets so angry and horrible tome over the tinyiest of things.

His father killed himself a few years back, so he obviously suffered from depression and I have heard that genetics has a large role to play in depression.

He went to 1 CBT session, but feels it is not worth the R450 a session, he would rather talk to me. But, I am not a qualified psychologist and feel that because I seem to contribute to his depression (where he is so eaily angered by me) and quite frankly, feel battered enough already from his outbursts without having to listen to his self pitying " why can' t he just be happy when it comes to me"  talk. I feel like a battering board!!

What would you do/suggest in this situation? I do love him and just want him to be happy. By the way, he exercises and eats right as much as his schedule allows &  takes a lot of vitamins too.

I feel that although he says he loves and likes me, he must be wrong otherwise I would make him happy and he would not be able to say all those terrible things to me when he is having a tantrum and feeling depressed.

I look forward to hearing your advice, and SO wish (for very selfish reasons) that you were still open to taking on new people!!! (Sorry, I know you are very much entitled to a happy and peaceful retirement, so please take that last comment as a compliment!)


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Our expert says:
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Kitty i enjoying the sunshine, and has shown great skill in mapping out which parts of the house get sunshine at which times, and doing her rounds when she can.
As for the pilots, this sounds like a typically stupid ruling, if it is done in the way you describe. I remember WAY back in America there was a fuss when it was discovered that a Vice-Presidential candidate had once received treatment for depression, and I was quoted as saying that it was an UNtreated depresion that would be the risk --- and as they'd tolerated untreated psychopaths in office for decades, why the fuss ?
As in so many situation, there has to be a proper assessment and balance of risks. Drowsiness is not an inevitable side-effect of ADs, especially, like all side-effects, after the first week or two. Untreated depression could be more serious a risk, and of course any rigid rules of this sort would most probably mean that pilots would simply not disclose what treatment they were taking.
I can't recall any instance of any air emergency related to any pilor taking psych meds, but there was one never properly explained crash of a jumbo jet off New York, where there was chilling evidence that the pilot may have been suicidal, untreated, and may have deliberately crashed the plane into the sea.
And considering the rate at which pilots are discovered to be drunk on duty, antidepressants seem a much smaller worry
What you describe with regard to your fiance could be Depression, though other possible explanations could apply, too -- as usual the answer is to persuade him to get properly assessed, at least by a GP, providing the full information about symptoms and behaviours, and discuss the diagnostic possibilities as well a potential management of it.
Relationshhip counselling, even a few sessions, could also be useuful, to clarify for both of you what is and what isn;t going on.
Don't fall into the trap of blaming yourself if a partner gets miserable or angry --- you're marvellous, but you're not prozac with legs ! YOu may enable him to be happy, all else being equal, but we can't MAKE anyone happy when other things are working against that.
Thanks for the compliment, Happy and peaceful the retuirement is not, but so long as I can still be productive and helpful at times, it can still be fulfilling

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