Anxiety medications

I hold a high level (ocean unlimited master + first class pilot) license.

I have been told, by someone who should know, that I should discuss anxiety medications with my doctor. Of course, given the Uscg NMC medical review process, I am quite apprehensive about the prospect of taking anxiety meds. I have reviewed NVIC 04-08 and find it not useful.

Looking for first hand experience from other mariners with upper level licenses who have been through the Uscg medical renewals while taking anti-anxiety medications. How did it go for you? Was it no big deal? Or is this something to avoid at all costs? Thanks

Hi Sam19,

I can’t really answer your question at this time. But I wanted to Welcome you to the gCaptain forum. Thanks for joining. How long have you held your (ocean unlimited master + first class pilot) license? Congrats. Why do you think you may need to discuss anxiety medications with your Dr? Just wondering do you smoke, or drink a lot of coffee? Do you have any chronic diseases like diabetes? How is your health in general on a scale of 1-10? with 1 being in poor health and 10 being in excellent health. Do you have a regular exercise routine? I was wondering how did you hear about the gCaptain forum?


are you a medical doctor or do you just play one on tv?

are you a real medical doctor or do you just play one on tv?

[QUOTE=newman;191245]are you a real medical doctor or do you just play one on tv?[/QUOTE]

I believe he is DeepSeaDiver’s evil twin

By “anxiety medications” do you mean the benzodiazepines? Like Ativan, Xanax, Clonazepam, etc?

Proceed with EXTREME caution- those are all big red flag meds wrt licensing

And if you have to ask here…you ain’t dun yer homework. If you have to report use on the 719k…you are going to have a problem.

—from someone with a “not so upper level license”

PS- have you considered yoga? Meditation? An occasional glass of wine?

There is plenty of info on the USCG website about prescription medications and licensing. I don’t think they discriminate between upper level and lower level licenses.

More importantly, maybe you should look in the mirror and do a cold hard self assessment. Why are you asking us about gaming the system, when you really need to be asking yourself if you are fit for duty.


OP needs to take a long vacation from sailing and work on his or her self for a while, if they haven’t already. Then, reconsider posting stuff like this to a public forum for professional mariners that is often cited as reliable source by news outlets.

While I am sorry that the OP is having a hard time of it, I still stand by my statement that he needs to do a cold, hard self assessment.
If he isn’t fit for duty he should stay home. Nothing worse than laying on your bunk off watch wondering if the guy on tower is going to mess up and kill you.

I’m not here asking about gaming the system. I’m asking if anyone has experience with the USCG medical process after properly disclosing that they are taking mild non-benzo anxiety meds.

I’m also not asking for personal counseling or implying that I might be in any way unfit for duty. I’ll leave this thread up through the weekend to see if anyone has information along those lines to contribute.

my origional post almost 24 hrs ago was directed to DSD, not sam19. now it appears DSD’s post is gone. something is screwy.if not,mr sam19,i owe you an apology.i cant help not a real doctor.just one one tv.serves me right for even replying to DSD.ive wasted our time here on this great forum.

Toot Toot. Ring knocker in the room y’all!

Seriously guy? “High level license.” Are you one of those that holds a Master’s license, has never sailed on it, but considers themselves a Captain? You can be proud of your accomplishment of gaining the license, but you don’t need to quantify the grade of your ticket. If the topic of jobs comes up in conversation and the other person is knowledgeable, just drop the tonnage of your vessel and the level of your license will be well known.

Other than that, go hit the punching bag. Just about every ship I’ve ever sailed on has one and for very good reasons.

[QUOTE=DamnYankee;191272]Toot Toot. Ring knocker in the room y’all!

Seriously guy? “High level license.” Are you one of those that holds a Master’s license, has never sailed on it, but considers themselves a Captain?.[/QUOTE]

No, I’m not one of those guys. I’m not familiar with how things normally work on this forum and included that information in case it was relevant to the discussion. If this is the quality of the information and feedback I can expect from this forum I will be quite disappointed and find a more serious group to discuss topics with.

I consider it likely that NMC would evaluate my renewal differently than someone with a 6-pack license who runs a charter fishing boat. Thus, I considered it relevant. Maybe I was wrong. Sorry if the wording offended your sensibilities.


Here’s the link you want. Without the specific med, it’d be hard for any of us to say what the answer would be. However, I would venture that it’s probably on the restricted, or the “More trouble then it’s worth,” side of things. You might be better off learning non-pharmaceutical coping methods; meditation, exercise, whatever. I know that sounds lame but, it is what it is.

As for the group of members here, you’ll find we’re pretty diverse in professional level. Everything from wannabe-deckhands, salty ABs limited licenses, unlimited licenses, harbor pilots, and a few trolls. Obviously you will have a diversity in the quality of responses. If a question is better off being googled, expect to get your fair amount of flak. I have yet to find a better maritime industry community online, if you do good luck. Hopefully you can participate and contribute here, we also have a decent amount of people that bounce out of here after asking a question and getting their answer.

There is something much worse: a mariner afraid to go to a doctor out of fear of loosing his or her career. Reminds me of a shipmate who wouldn’t get treatment for high blood pressure out of fear of not being able to keep shipping. He had a massive stroke at sea and died not long after. Thankfully my shipmate wasn’t alone in the wheelhouse or operating heavy machinery when he slumped over.

Would anyone prefer a ticking time bomb of a shipmate with an untreated ailment instead of a stable shipmate under proper treatment?


Hi Sam19

Welcome! Without telling us some more about your situation the forum members won’t be able to help you much more on this subject. If you’re looking for the oh yes it’s NO problem answer that won’t happen. Best of luck and feel better.

Here is a thread that was originally posted 8 days ago and sounds very similar to your situation? You may be able to obtain some additional unofficial info at this link?

Thank you for the reply. I’ve read the attached link before and also read nvic 04-08 thoroughly. They seem to give themselves a lot of leeway for discretion and no definitive answers. In nvic 04-08 they mention that waivers for benzo use will only be considered on a case by case basis. (Section G). I think that in modern medicine benzos have generally been phased out towards SSRI class and other meds for anxiety.

04-08 also gives several examples of “anti depression” medications (which are also typically used to treat anxiety) and say that:

“Anti-depressants (Medicines for treatment of Depression): Examples include, but are not limited to, citalopram (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), paroxetine (Paxil), trazodone (Desyrel), amitriptyline (Elavil) and venlafaxine (Effexor). In many cases, use of anti- depressant medications may be approved without need for a waiver. The medication and the underlying condition will be reviewed to determine whether the mariner qualifies for a waiver under 46 CFR 10.303.”

Which seems to be a contradiction in terms because they say in many cases no waiver will be required then go on to say that it will be reviewed to determine if the mariner qualifies for a waiver.


Here’s the link you want. Without the specific med, it’d be hard for any of us to say what the answer would be. [/QUOTE]

Well I really can’t name a specific med as I’m not taking any and have never been prescribed one, or received or sought any treatment for anxiety. I am just weighing the pros and cons here. Let’s say for the sake of discussion low dose SSRI class med like celexa, Paxil or Prozac.

For background information-- it’s not as if I’m crazy or spiraling out of control or horribly depressed or anything like that— it was just suggested by a family counselor that things might go smoother for me if I discussed my anxiety with a doctor. So I’m just asking if anyone has gone that route in our field or “knows someone who has” that would have any info to offer that might help me weigh the pros and cons in terms of if it’s a huge can of worms with licensing, a few reasonable hoops to jump through, or no big deal…

[QUOTE=Sam19;191306]I think that in modern medicine benzos have generally been phased out towards SSRI class and other meds for anxiety.[/QUOTE]

Benzos are still used for anxiety but as a last resort med. If you’ve functioned this far through life you don’t have anxiety bad enough to need them.

SSRI/SNRI meds are frustrating because it usually takes 6+ weeks to see a change, it’s a bit of a commitment when you’re not even sure you have a problem.

I would look up Buspar on the USCG list. Knowing the drug I doubt it’s a concern in and of itself and I believe it’s only used to treat anxiety so it doesn’t necessarily raise red flags. Also, there is usually a noticeable difference within a few days days so it’s obvious if it’s working. You could try it during a vacation and if you don’t think it makes a difference stop before going back to work.

(I’m not a doctor, I’m just married to someone with crippling anxiety along with other mood disorders and by now I have experience with every type of anxiety med there is.)

Thanks for that info, that’s helpful. If there is an actual specific Uscg list of meds that are go/ no-go I’m not aware of where to find it. Does anyone else know of one?