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Q&A: Occasional Depression

Source:, By Penny Giovanetti, D.O. Manager, Aerospace Medical Specialties Division

Q. I’ve had issues with depression at times in my life. It’s never gotten so bad that I felt it was a danger but what options would I have if I wanted to seek treatment and wanted to continue flying at least as a private pilot?

A. We currently have over 350 pilots of all classes flying while in treatment with certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications for depression. We have specific exclusions for special issuance consideration. If we grant a special issuance, we require regular follow-up visits with your AME. You should contact a HIMS (Human Intervention Motivation Study) qualified AME ( for details.

Send your questions to They will be forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, without your name, and the answer will be published in an upcoming issue of FAA Safety Briefing.

Penny Giovanetti, D.O., received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford, a master’s in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Iowa and a doctorate from Des Moines University. She completed a 27-year career as an Air Force flight surgeon. She is board certified in aerospace medicine, occupational medicine, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. She is also a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a private pilot.

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