BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A group of experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has discovered that many airline pilots might be clinically depressed.
Also, many of them are not seeking treatment because they fear that this issue might affect their career. In other words, although they experience the symptoms related to depression, they prefer dealing with this disorder on their own.
The researchers conducted a survey last year which involved roughly 1,850 airline pilots. One of the reasons why the team decided to develop this project is because a depressed Germanwings co-pilot crashed a plane into the Alps killing 150 people.
The scientists prepared a set of questions which were commonly used by physicians to see whether their patients were depressed or not. Also, they thought that it would be best if the survey were anonymous. This way, the patients felt better knowing that regardless of their answers, the survey would be confidential.
The study findings have revealed that many pilots were suffering from depression. Out of approximately 3,500 pilots, 1,848 answered the questions related to mental health. After analyzing their answers, the researchers established that 12.6 percent or 233 airline pilots could be diagnosed with depression.
In addition, out of the 1,430 participants who mentioned that they had worked in the past week, 13.5 percent or 193 of them were suffering from depression. In 2016, 7 percent of Americans experienced depression, according to the study authors.
It is worth mentioning that 4.1 percent or 75 airline pilots said that they had suicidal thoughts within the past two weeks before the survey. Depression was more prevalent among those who were victims of verbal harassment and sexual harassment.
More precisely, depression occurred in 36.4 percent of those who experienced sexual harassment at least four times in the past 7 days, and in 42.9 percent of those who experienced verbal harassment within the same period.
Moreover, the participants who relied on sleep aid medication had a higher risk of becoming depressed. According to the statistics, because airline travel is regarded as the safest way of transportation worldwide, airline pilots have to accomplish roughly 27,000 takeoffs and landings every day in a wide range of conditions. This is another reason why many of them might show signs of depression.
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