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Fear of Flying





What is a fear of flying?


A fear of flying, also known as a flying phobia, flight phobia or aviophobia, is relatively common. Many individuals have mild fears of flying that require no intervention. While the line between fear and phobia is a blurred one, technically a fear is regarded to be a phobia when it causes significant interference with a person’s life or marked distress. Therefore, where the flying fear causes someone to experience marked anxiety in anticipation of flying, or even to avoid flights that they would otherwise have taken, their fear may be classed as a ‘phobia‘.


It is often assumed that all people with are fear of flying a primarily concerned with the risk of crashing. While this can be the case for some people, for many people it is their fear of experiencing some form of anxiety attack or a fear of feeling trapped in the aeroplane that is the primary cause of their anxiety. For still others the fear of flying is due to a combination of the fear of the plane crashing (or in some cases a fear of incidents like hijacking) in addition to the fear of an anxiety attack.


Some people with flying fears experience symptoms that fit the label “panic attack” while others experience some milder anxiety symptoms which are nonetheless very troubling.


Panic attacks are common amongst individuals with flying fears. While some of these people suffer from Panic Disorder, a condition where panic attacks are experienced more generally and not just when flying, others experience panic attacks only prior to and/or during flights.


Many people use alcohol or anxiety reducing drugs to reduce their anxiety while flying. This can bring some relief from anxiety in the short-term but is unlikely to resolve their flying fears. In fact, in some cases this can undermine a person’s sense of coping and can hinder their long-term recovery from their fear of flying, especially where the person does not also use other strategies to overcome their anxiety.


Although there are some similarities amongst those who suffer from a fear of flying, each person’s fears are different and therefore treatment is individualised to address their specific situation.


Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should not be used for assessment or diagnosis. It should also not be relied on as medical advice. You should consult a Clinical Psychologist or other appropriately qualified professional for advice on your problems.





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