Are You Afraid To Fly?
from: cl-ijanis51 Member Icon date:
Nov-21 8:57 am
Here’s some info. Share w/us your thoughts on flying. Do you fear flying or traveling in general? Do you have any tips or tricks that will help us? Thx, jan Overcoming Fear of Flying People who have a phobia about air travel don’t have to stay grounded. The right therapy can help overcome a fear of flying. By Diana Rodriguez
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
At some point in their lives, most people will get on a plane, whether for a business trip, a vacation, a move, or a visit to a friend or family member. While most people board a flight without a second thought, many adults have some degree of discomfort about flying, and there are some who simply will not board an airplane because their fear of flying is so severe.
Fear of Flying: What’s Behind the Phobia
Aviaphobia is a serious, disabling fear of flying that prevents people from traveling. They will avoid trips, even if that means losing their job because of their inability to fly to a business meeting.
“There are many different types of fears of flying,” says Martin N. Seif, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York City and Greenwich, Conn., who runs a six-week workshop called “Freedom to Fly” that helps people conquer their fear of flying.
One person may actually be claustrophobic, while another is afraid of heights, and someone else may truly be afraid of crashing, notes Seif. “You have to recognize what underlies the fear.” Getting educated about flying, understanding your particular anxiety, and learning relaxation techniques to ease anxiety can all help overcome your fear of flying.
Anna Jones of Brevard, N.C. always knew she suffered from some anxiety, but after years of flying, she developed a phobia and no longer wanted to board a plane.
“I had been flying probably since I was about 6 weeks old, several times a year with no problems whatsoever. Then when I got to be about 15 years old, I started getting uneasy on planes. If there was any sort of turbulence at all, that exacerbated the problem,” says Jones. “Then, I just didn’t want to go.”
Jones also suffered panic attacks in high school. Finally, her anxiety reached the point where Jones backed out of a vacation her family had scheduled overseas, rather than confronting her fears or telling her family about them.
“It was never a fear of dying. It was more a fear of not being in control of the situation and not being able to change or in any way extract myself from the situation of being on a plane,” she says.
Fear of Flying: Steps to Conquer the Phobia
Jones worked with a therapist and overcame her fear of flying through therapy and use of anti-anxiety medications. “Finally, I’m getting to the point where plane travel doesn’t fill me with terror,” she says.
A lot of people fly with an anti-anxiety medication such as Xanax or Valium, which is an appropriate approach because it still exposes them to their fear, says Seif. “But there are a large percentage of people who won’t fly no matter what they take.”
If your anxiety is at the point where it’s consistently disruptive to your schedule and you find yourself avoiding or canceling trips, it’s time to get help, says Seif. Here are some tips to help manage a fear of flying:
- Understand what it is that you are afraid of. That way, says Seif, you can start to deal with that fear.
- Try reading self-help books. Books that focus on the fear of flying can be very helpful in dealing with and managing that fear, says Seif.
- Understand that fear is normal. Seif says it’s very normal to be afraid of something that you don’t do very often, particularly something that seems as unnatural as flying.
- Visualize flying. Imagine yourself walking into an airport and boarding a plane. Try to simulate your anxious feelings and learn how to manage them with relaxation techniques.
- Try taking a class or getting exposure therapy. There are many different courses that deal with the fear of flying and offer therapy that can help acclimate you to flying. Seif’s class meets at an airport and boards a plane for the experience. This allows for an even better simulation of what it’s like to really fly on a plane and teaches participants to manage that anxiety.
Fear of flying is a very normal and common phobia, but it doesn’t have to keep you from enjoying vacations or missing out on a great job. Like any anxiety disorder or phobia, fear of flying can be managed and overcome, so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.