Recent research has revealed that many airline pilots are often having suicidal thoughts and they also experience depression. According to study author Joseph Allen, many pilots are showing signs of depression, and they are not seeking help because they think it will have a detrimental effect on their career.
Allen, who is also an assistant professor at the Harvard Chan School, decided to conduct this extensive study because, in 2015, a Germanwings pilot crashed a plane with over 100 passengers in the Alps.
After the crash, the investigators discovered that the man had been depressed. Compared to female pilots, male pilots have a higher risk of having suicide thoughts and experiencing loss of interest.
On the other hand, female pilots were more prone to depression. According to the statistics, this condition is more prevalent among airline pilots who take sleeping pills and experience verbal or sexual harassment.
The researchers analyzed 1,850 commercial pilots from fifty countries. Based on the findings, 13 percent of the airline pilots were experiencing symptoms of depression, and roughly four percent of them had suicidal thoughts over the past 14 days before the study.
The experts selected their questions from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Job Content Questionnaire. In addition, they used questions regarding mental health, which doctors often use to see whether their patients suffer from depression.
Their strategy was to mix the questions, so the airline pilots involved in the survey couldn’t figure out that the experts focus on mental health. Plus, the pilots’ answers were anonymous. As such, they felt more comfortable answering the questions, meaning that they were honest.
The scientists underline that this study points towards the fact that mental health is a vital aspect related to airline pilots. In other words, they should benefit from preventive treatment regardless of the company they work for.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration has sometimes grounded airline pilots who reported taking antidepressants, the survey has revealed that most of those who are depressed don’t seek treatment, or they fail to report taking antidepressants to Aviation Medical Examiners.
Previous studies have shown that some jobs increase the risk of depression among people. More precisely, those working in real estate, social work, and public transit are more prone to depression.