There’s a Good Chance That Your Plane’s Captain Is Clinically DepressedHundreds of flights are crisscrossing the country right now; those flights are carrying millions of people to their loved ones for the holidays. While flying is statistically safer than driving, a new survey has revealed an unanticipated danger to travelers around the globe; more than 1 in 8 pilots may be suffering from clinical depression.

About the study

A Harvard University study conducted an anonymous survey of commercial airline pilots last year. The research was prompted by the horrific Germanwings crash in which a depressed copilot intentionally flew a plane into the Swiss Alps, killing all 150 people aboard. According to Fox News, the study examined work and health concerns to provide a snapshot of mental health among pilots, and found:

  • Out of nearly 3,500 pilots who participated in the survey, 1,848 completed the questions about mental health. Within this group, 233 (12.6 percent) met the criteria for likely depression and 75 (4.1 percent) reported having suicidal thoughts within the previous two weeks.
  • Among 1,430 participants who reported working as an airline pilot in the previous seven days at the time of the survey, 193 (13.5 percent) met the criteria for depression.
  • A greater proportion of male pilots than female pilots reported that “nearly every day” they had experiences of loss of interest, feeling like a failure, trouble concentrating, and thinking they would be “better off dead.”
  • Women were more likely than men to have at least one day of poor mental health during the previous month, and were more likely to have been diagnosed with depression.
  • The study also found that depression was more likely when pilots took lots of sleep medication and when they experienced sexual or verbal harassment.

Depression affects nearly 350 million people around the globe, but often goes untreated for fear of reprisal. In the case of commercial airline pilots, any mental health issue in the past could and did lead to permanent grounding and blacklisting. The picture is less grim today (there are more treatment options), but the conversation between airlines and pilots needs to happen to preserve public safety.

Flying can be a traumatic experience, but flying when a pilot isn’t capable of full attention or professional performance can be deadly. If your loved one was injured or killed in an airplane accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical or burial expenses. The experienced personal injury attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call 888-302-7546 or contact us today for a free consultation.