Study shows 13% of pilots suffer from depression

Rosie Vare

An airline pilot carries enormous responsibility, flying through dangerous weather conditions and working at odd hours - all while keeping calm and smiling in the face of passengers.

But new research from Harvard University found one in eight pilots could suffer from depression.

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The study surveyed roughly 1,850 pilots from more than 50 countries and looked at the mental health of airline pilots, with questions surrounding appetite levels, ability to focus, and energy levels.

The authors concluded that nearly 13% of pilots surveyed meet the depression threshold and 4% reported having suicidal thoughts.

For pilots who had worked within a week of the survey, 14% showed symptoms of depression.

The study's author told Reuters "It's understandable that pilots are reluctant to fully disclose mental health issues because of the potential that they will be grounded or declared not fit for duty"

With 140,000 working pilots and after the Germanwings Flight 0525 crash that killed 150 people in the Swiss Alps, the subject of pilot mental health has been a focus in the aviation industry, and an issue the researchers hope airlines will handle with more sensitivity.