You can get you license back. The FAA allows antidepressants now. You will be out for at least a year. Your pay will depend on your contract at your airline. Mine would be less than one third what I make. Tough adjustment and a barrier to self reporting for sure. Since 911 hundreds of pilots have taken their lives. It is discussed every time we go to recurrent training.
Caveat with the antidepressants is that an existing airman or ATC will need to see an HIMS AME every 6 months to get the process of their special issuance renewed and every year undergo an evaluation by a PHD psychologist (not a psychiatrist MD) who specializes in FAA procedures. Said airman will need to do batteries of psych and cognitive tests at considerable out of pocket expense (I’ve heard figures of up to $5000 annually for test fees and provider fees). Additionally, they’ll need to furnish to the FAA from the airline chief pilot or ATC supervisor regarding their mood, affect, and interpersonal behavior yearly. Not to mention that there is only 4 approved antidepressants and you’re done for if you were ever on an unapproved drug or used more than 1 at the same time.
For prospective pilots with documented
history of suicidal ideation its difficult to the point of “don’t even bother”. Friend of mine who had an attempt several years back and got bit by the flying bug found out the hard way when his third class was denied (guy can’t even fly light sport aircraft now). According to well known AME Dr. Bruce Chien a person with ideation history who wants to fly needs the following:
10 years of good psychiatric hygiene proven by
1) No psychiatric incidences
2) No usage of medications
3) Continual positive reviews from their employer
4) Continual positive evaluations from their psychiatric MD
5) Continual positive evaluations from their psychologist PHD
And i’m assuming that even then its not a guarantee.
At the risk of sounding excessively harsh towards people with less than stellar mental health, I wouldn’t trust someone with mental disturbances to have such an important responsibility such as piloting without those restrictions and need for continual monitoring. Frankly I think that mandated self-reporting and FAA style restrictions should be instituted for any profession with such a hands on responsibility for human life (passenger transport, healthcare workers to name a few).