Recently I lost a loved one (not a pilot) but it drew me to do a bit of research on a topic that doesn't get discussed enough. I'm not a psychologist or attempting to put anyone on the spot, but I feel in aviation we have to always be aware of our own skills and limitations. Men are much more likely to avoid discussing feelings or problems, and pilots are doubly reluctant to voice issues and it puts us all in a very small demographic of reluctance to discuss issues like depression or negative thoughts.
I found a video and relating article from CNN regarding depression that I thought would be a good starting off point to open discussions with you all. http://www.cnn.com/2...pressed-pilots/
It mentions in the article some of the first things that came to my mind "A pilot who was worried about depression would probably worry about losing their medical and never flying again." This article references a anonymous study where they found between 12-15% of pilots who completed the questionnaire have signs of depression while the national average is only 7%. It also notes that pilots who felt harassed or took sleep aid medication were significantly more likely to be depressed.
I have to admit, although I don't feel depressed, in EMS these are two major factors in the everyday life of an EMS pilot. Working nights and alternating shifts at bases where there is a desire to get more flights or meet a quota, paired with the concern of retaliation if a flight is turned down, puts many pilots in the danger zone.
In an industry where we have yearly medical exams to worry about, yearly recurrent training, checkrides, and having your flights evaluated by passengers, crewmembers or superiors can cause anxiety in even the most experienced pilot. (And as a civilian guy, I can only imagine what a military pilot has had to go through)
Secondly, I just want to throw this out there as well. It's not in the same vein of depression, but I think it's an important read and applies to more pilots than even they're aware of. Imposter Syndrome. That feeling that you're not really any good at your job and somehow you've simply fooled everyone. The self doubt that you only passed your checkrides because the examiner took pity on you, or you got the job even though your flight stunk or you feel like every good set-down was luck and after every bad landing you'll be caught for the fraud you are and fired.
Psychologists believe that about 70% of all people have felt this way at some point in their lives, but there hasn't been much research on it since the 80s. It doesn't seem to go into any further detail as to a percentage of people who suffer with chronic Imposter Syndrome.
I think the takeaway is to always try to understand and be sympathetic to your fellow aviators. I know it may sound corny, but the grumpy pilot or the nervous new guy may need a friend instead of counseling from management if they leave a gas cap off or forget to close a hangar door. And maybe if you feel like you don't deserve where you are, perhaps it'll help you to know most people feel the same way sometimes.