Antidepressant Made Germanwings Co-pilot “Panic”

Kermit Cole
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Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz wrote, in a desperate, final email to his psychiatrist two weeks before slamming his A320 jet into the French Alps one year ago, that the antidepressant Mirtazepine made him “restless” and was causing him to “panic.” Mirtazapine’s reported side effects include anxiety, confusion, thoughts of self-harm, “strange dreams,” and visual problems. Lubitz blamed the medication for inducing fears about losing his sight.

International Business Times →

An email sent by Andreas Lubitz, 27, to his doctor two weeks before the crash has been published by German newspaper Bild. The paper reports that Lubitz was taking the highest allowable dose of the antidepressant Mirtazapine, and that according to Lubitz’ email the medication was making him “restless” and causing him to “panic” about losing his career due to his failing vision. Mirtazepine is a generic version of the “atypical antidepressant” Remeron, which has a suicide risk warning for younger people who take it.

Lubitz had consulted 41 different doctors in the five years before the crash. Two days after the crash a psychiatrist said to the police: “Do not tell me he has flown a plane.”

A final report on the Germanwings crash will be released on March 13th.

Of further interest:

Keeping an Eye on the Ball: Visual Problems on SSRIs (RxISK)
Mirtazepine, Oral Tablet (Healthline.com)

 

 

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

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4 COMMENTS

    • Duh–that’s obviously not how it was meant.

      (Of course he was a pilot but the psychiatrist clearly thought he wasn’t in condition to actually be flying, particularly with other people–no different from a soldier with severe PTSD who should be excused from active duty but goes off-base to purchase a firearm perhaps).