Mental Health Hospitalization

I was hospitalized for an episode of psychosis back in January. I had no prior issues, and started treatment immediately. The medication I was prescribed has worked well. I’ve had no relapse since my release. As far as my therapist and psychiatrist are concerned, I have no condition/diagnosis. They believe the psychosis was caused by a severe anxiety attack. I am reasonably confident that this conclusion is correct myself.

Would I have a problem obtaining a secret clearance if I started the process now, explaining as I have above? My understanding is that mental health issues that are well under control are non-issues for clearance purposes. For what its worth, I believe I’ll be weened off all of my medications soon, though they don’t seem to have any negative effects I’ve noticed.

I ask because I have job offers from a federal contractor and a non-clearance required company. If I’d my druthers, I’d take the offer from the contractor. The work seems more interesting/rewarding. However, if I’m likely to lose a clearance adjudication, I feel I should take the non-cleared job.

Any guidance here would be appreciated, thanks!

An unexplained psychotic episode will likely be viewed poorly until enough time has passed to be reasonably sure that it will not recur. Even a “severe anxiety attack” in itself is an issue if it hasn’t been explained by the circumstances that caused it. If the cause isn’t known (often even if it is) how does anyone know that it will not occur again?

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Your symptoms will also be important. Were they more physical or mental. Rapid heart rate, sweating, chest pain?

Symptoms were almost entirely mental, though I can’t attest to that in great detail.

Had auditory hallucinations and paranoid thoughts. Totally nonviolent, just delusional.

Psychosis is a mental issue, not a physical one. Hallucinations and paranoia are serious issues.

It’s odd they called it an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack in and of itself is extremely common and harmless. However, the hallmark symptoms of an attack are always physical. Rapid heart rate, sweating, chest pain, fear you are about to die. I know there was a study just published that states that nearly half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia are misdiagnosed and actually are only suffering from anxiety. The new SF86 only requires you to report seeking mental for cases such as schizophrenia, bipolar, suicide attempts. You do not have to report visits due to anxiety and depression. However on your case you may have to due to the severity and oddity of it.

READ . . . They didn’t “call it an anxiety attack!” They said that the psychosis was CAUSED by an anxiety attack.

Thanks for that. I am pretty sure my heart rate and blood pressure were both out of whack, but given the state of mind I was in at the time, I cannot recall with absolute fidelity.

And yes, I am aware that paranoia and hallucinations are serious, which is why I’m seeking advice here. If I were still symptomatic, or if this was anything other than a few-day long blip in a lifetime of otherwise normal behavior, I wouldn’t be considering pursuing the clearance.

The psychosis would be a symptom of the anxiety attack and therefore included when I say anxiety attack. It’s all from the same thing

Get ready to experience alot more anxiety directly caused by how poorly managed the security clearance process is.

Psychosis isn’t a symptom of anxiety. If the OP had a psychotic break, it is every bit as serious an issue as a suicide attempt and should be reported.

I agree it will have to reported when he lists times he visited the emergency room. But there are mitigating factors if the temporary psychosis was just a symptom of the anxiety. The fact that he has no history of psychosis and quickly improved after being given a sedative or SSRI of some sort makes it highly likely that his “psychosis” was a symptom of anxiety and not chronic.

It just happened in January! There’s not enough time to mitigate anything. There’s only certain situations where you don’t have to speak on it.

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Yes I know, of course he has to report it, i dont dispute that. I commented out of interest in how a psychotic episode is related to an anxiety attack

You might want to read the Adjudicative Desk Reference for this one. Also, read this articles: https://news.clearancejobs.com/2017/03/12/psychological-conditions-rarely-stand-alone-security-clearance-cases/
https://www.clearancejobsblog.com/personnel-security-teams-up-with-clinicians-to-address-mental-health-issues/

In your case, you have mitigating factors. You sought treatment, you are following through with the treatment and your therapist and psychiatrist conclude that you do not have condition/diagnosis. I think you will be fine.

(this was meant to reply to OP)

I don’t see recency (time) being a disqualifying factor… so, can you elaborate on that?

The OP had a psychotic break. This is a clinical term which has specific meaning. His care providers didn’t determine a cause, they suggested that it may have been a result of a severe anxiety attach, which is another clinical term with its own specific meaning. This all occurred three months ago.

The lack of diagnosis means that his providers have no way of knowing if there will be another break or not. The farther we get from the occurrence, the more likely that there will not be a recurrence. Three months is nothing.

Agree with Ed. For something like that, you’d need years, not months.

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I understand your reason as it does make sense. I can see it becomes an issue if OP had the episode and he did not seek professional help. In this case, he did. I think unless a therapist and/or psychiatrist determines that he would be a threat, he will be fine.

I am saying that because DoD and Intelligence Community are actively addressing mental health issues as they are more interested in applicants/holders and rarely does an applicant be denied clearance due to recency of a mental health episode.

@marko, @amberbunny, @backgdinvestigator @ipsecmerlin, do you have an opinion on this?

Adjudicators are not mental health or medical professionals, hence the investigator will ask the treating physician to fill out the medical form as to whether the subject has a condition that would cast doubts on their reliability, judgment, or trustworthiness. If no, then there is no issue. If this was a one-time isolated incident with no previous history and a favorable prognosis going forward then there should be no reason to deny clearance eligibility in accordance with the adjudicative guidelines.

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