A recent survey has proved that airline pilots hide depression symptoms behind their self-confident look and their air of competence. Apparently, 13% of the commercial airline pilots are thought to suffer from depression. The research has also proved that four out of a hundred pilots confess that they experienced suicidal thoughts in the past two weeks.
The authors of the study which presupposed asking pilots about their mental health demonstrated that depressed pilots hesitate to treat their depression because they are afraid that they might harm their careers. The researchers of the study under discussion were triggered by the situation of a pilot who worked for the European airline Germanwings back in 2015.
They decided to develop this study to analyze the behavior of pilots to estimate the frequency of a disorder which is known to affect one out of five Americans during their lives. The authors of the paper gathered a lot of data from postcards, advertisements, emails and newsletters about approximately 3,485 commercial pilots who were required to fill in an anonymous health survey.
The questionnaire included some standard questions bound to detect levels of depression. The results were unexpected. About 426 out of 3,278 pilots were diagnosed with depression after analyzing the results of their questionnaires. What is even more striking, 75 participants reported that they had had suicidal thoughts over the past two weeks or they thought that they were better off dead.
The study has proved that pilots who were using sleep-aid pills together with those employees who reported to have been subjected to sexual or verbal harassment presented a much higher risk of depression.
Female pilots, who represented approximately 4% of the airlines’ pilot workforce, stated that they had experienced poor mental health, being diagnosed with depression more than male employees were. The discoveries revealed during the research were comprised in a paper published on December 14 in the Environmental Health magazine.
The outcome of the study should encourage officials to develop several programs to combat, treat and prevent depression in the field of this particular workforce. The authors of the survey had also claimed that the results of their research should not undermine people’s confidence in the ability of pilots to perform their work.
Joseph G. Allen, one of the authors of the study who studies occupational, environmental exposures at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, asserted that the survey does not change the idea that flying is safe.
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