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How to overcome the fear of flying: tips, medication and techniques

The fear of flying, aerophobia or aviophobia is the fear that some people feel about traveling by plane. It is of psychological origin and can be eradicated by following a series of tips, through psychological therapy. In the following we show you the causes and types of fear of flying by plane, some techniques to know how to overcome it and the medication that can be taken to minimize the symptoms of this phobia.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

Causes

At present, it is estimated that one in four people He is afraid of flying, of which approximately 13% suffer from real panic and 15% have mild or moderate discomfort when they know they will fly.

If we were to answer the question of how many people are afraid to fly, the answer would be that almost 30% of people suffer from this phobia every day. However, the fear of flying is of psychological origin and it can be treated with different techniques depending on the intensity with which it is suffered.

The causes of fear of flying are of psychological origin

In most cases, the fear of flying is not a simple sudden fear generated without cause, but is the extension of a previous phobia. Therefore, before looking for possible solutions to overcome it, we must find the true psychological origin of aerophobia. Below we list the most common causes that result in fear of flying:

Adverse weather conditions

Rain, wind, storm, fog, ashes of an active volcano and other atmospheric phenomena are the main causes of aerophobia in a high percentage of air passengers, especially because they fear that this may cause a plane crash.

Travel by plane in winter

Since storms, snow, heavy rains and, in general, negative weather conditions usually happen more frequently in winter, there are passengers who directly fear flying in this season.

Hydrophobia or aquaphobia

It is an irrational fear of water or swimming. When a person knows that the plane or helicopter goes to fly over the seaHe suffers from aquaphobia, because he fears that the plane will suffer some setback and fall on the sea.

However, every passenger must take into account the amount of rescue and safety resources available to every aircraft, including lifejackets.

Fear of flying over the sea: hydrophobia

Fly for the first time

Many people avoid flying throughout their lives precisely because they suffer from aerophobia. Others, on the other hand, cannot avoid it for work or study reasons, among others.

For these people the first time can be really scary, mainly because they don't know what they are going to face and fear that some of the causes mentioned above will occur: turbulence, storms, high winds …

Acrophobia or vertigo

This fear is translated as fear of heights and generates anxiety in those who suffer from it. Acrophobia is generated by insecurity and fear when imagining the possibility of falling of oneself or even a third party if traveling accompanied.

People who suffer from this phobia are unable to practice extreme sports such as parachuting or paragliding, but also traveling by plane is another of their worst enemies.

Possible causes of fear of flying

Night flights

People who suffer from this insecurity are often those who suffer from Nichtophobia, that is, fear of darkness or night.

This group is afraid to fly at night or even with a lot of fog or clouds, because they believe that the worse the visibility conditions, the greater the risk of an accident.

However, flying without visual references is something that has always existed, since there are countries with very few hours of light, for example. There are highly advanced navigation procedures, systems and standards that allow you to fly at night with all the security of a daytime flight.

Long-term flights

The fear of long or transoceanic flights is possibly the result of adding all the previous causes; The thought of a person suffering from aerophobia because he is going to experience a long-term flight is: the longer the duration, the greater the risk of a problem occurring.

In these cases, the comfort It plays a fundamental role, so making a right decision when choosing a seat on the plane can be very beneficial.

Fear of long-term flights

Fly without company

The presence of a companion, be it the couple, a friend or a family member can be highly comforting for those who fear traveling by plane or feel uncomfortable about it.

Have someone next to help us relax and with whom we can to converse During the duration of the flight it can make us forget any fear and even make us let off steam.

Therefore, those who are forced to travel alone feel really uncomfortable because they have no one next to whom to share their concerns. In these cases, it would be advisable to inform the crew personnel.

Afraid to travel alone

Take off and landing

The moments when the plane takes off and lands are key moments during every plane trip, because that is when it starts and when everything ends.

Especially during takeoff, all passengers experience a certain impression because the plane needs to reach a lot of speed in order to take off. Lean well on the armrest and, above all, chill out They could serve in these cases.

To help you overcome your aerophobia in case of what it produces, be it the moment of takeoff or the moment of landing, we recommend you watch this video where a professional pilot explains step by step all the safety measures that are carried out before starting any of these two processes:

Claustrophobia

This so common phobia is nothing other than the fear of enclosed spaces. This fear, in turn, may be caused by fear of only being able to do restricted movements or fear that oxygen may be lacking in the space we are in.

The plane is a closed place in which a large number of people come together and, in addition, the seats are narrow. All this generates claustrophobia to those who suffer from it.

Turbulence

Many people are afraid of turbulence during the flight, either because they think it will result in a plane crash or because they fear getting dizzy or suffering an injury.

However, the turbulence that occurs in the vast majority of flights are light or moderate, so they do not pose a danger to those traveling on that plane.

Fear of flying for fear of turbulence

symptom

The fear of flying generates anxiety and stress, from which several symptoms are derived, either at the physiological level, either at the psychological or cognitive level or at both levels. Below we list both types of symptoms.

Physiological symptoms

The symptoms at a physical level that people affected by this phobia usually experience are:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremor
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastrointestinal disorders and diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • General discomfort
  • Fatigue, nausea or dizziness
  • Shaking chills
  • Xerostomia or dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Blushing or paleness
Symptoms of aerophobia or fear of flying

Psychological symptoms

On a mental and emotional level, people who suffer from fear of flying usually show one or more of the symptoms listed below:

  • Memory failures
  • Decrease in reflexes or distortion of perception
  • Irritability
  • Disorientation
  • Inability or difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Negativity and pessimism

In addition, at the observable level, people suffering from aerophobia can reach cry, make movements that manifest a motor restlessness (scratching, touching the same area of ​​the body, etc.) or even becoming paralyzed.

Irritability and disorientation caused by fear of flying

Tips

Whatever the intensity with which you suffer fear of flying, before medicating or resorting to more aggressive cures, we recommend you follow the following tips or tips. You may follow these simple tricks to overcome your fear and not have to do anything else:

  • Analyze the terrain: Many people, especially those who are afraid of flying because it is the first time they do so, suffer from aviophobia because they do not know what they are facing. Therefore, getting informed about the process of traveling by plane, reading statistics or asking for opinions from those who have already flown can be very useful and will let you know what you can expect.
  • Prepare your flight in advance: organizing a trip at the last minute generates anxiety and stress even in those people who do not suffer from aerophobia. Even more so in those who suffer it. Therefore, do not leave the preparations for the last minute, since the fears that cause fear of flying can be added to others related to the lack of an important document or the forgetting of any object necessary for the trip.
Organize the trip by plane in advance
  • Learn to control anxiety: We have already mentioned above how anxiety can be controlled: either with self-help books, or with psychological or medicinal help. In any case, knowing the origin of our fear can also be a great help.
  • Feel comfortable on the plane: wear comfortable clothes and shoes, choose a good seat, do something entertaining or talk with the person next to us can increase our comfort levels during the journey and, consequently, relax and make us leave the aerophobia parked.
  • Fly frequently: the fear of flying is overcome by flying. It is as simple as that. So, our advice is to fly as often as you can, since you will end up getting used to it and realizing that air travel is the same or even safer than any other means of transportation.
Be entertained during the flight

Treatment

The fear of flying is of psychological origin and, therefore, should be treated with therapy and with the help of a psychologist if necessary. For milder cases, there are courses offered by the airlines themselves of different prices whose purpose is to help passengers with aerophobia to overcome it. Another option is the self help books, such as the famous Happy flight. How to lose the fear of flying (2002) by Javier del Campo Martín (former pilot of Iberia) and Luisa del Campo Martín-Cobos.

Psychological treatment

In the case of requiring psychological treatment, it is possible to resort to techniques such as hypnosis. However, the most recommended method is that of cognitive behavioral therapy, through which the patient is gradually exposed to the situation that originates his phobia so that little by little he is controlling the anxiety that causes it. In addition, this method teaches highly useful relaxation techniques such as those mentioned below:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: The goal is for the patient to become aware of how much tension has been generated in their muscles so that it is gradually eliminated.
  • Breathing control exercises: such as the technique of deep breathing.
  • Stop thinking: It is about capturing the negative thoughts that come to the patient's mind one by one and stopping to analyze us so that we can end up replacing them with more positive ones.
  • Distraction: This technique is the simplest of all, since it consists of looking for entertainment when the time of anxiety arrives. Read, listen to music, write, etc. They are good entertainment during a flight.
  • Laugh: It is simple and available to everyone. It is as easy as trying to replace a negative thought with something that is funny or gives us a smile.
Smile as a therapy against the fear of flying

Medication

Although medicines To overcome aerophobia they do not eliminate anxiety, but they help the passenger to relax, many people are able to cope with a flight thanks to any of these remedies.

In any case, you should always go to the doctor to advise us on what to take considering our physiognomy. What should not be done is self-medicate, as this can become counterproductive and increase our fear.

Below we list the five most common homeopathic drugs and treatments to overcome the fear of flying:

  • Hypnotics
  • Anxiolytics, like alprazolam or diazepam
  • Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate)
  • Gelsenium (natural jasmine based remedy)
  • Sleeping pills
Sleep during the flight to overcome the fear of flying

It is important to always take the proper dose of any of these medications or pills, since if we abuse, we can get the opposite effect and increase our anxiety.

Children

Children can also have aerophobia the first time they fly, basically because it is a new medium, large and traveling very fast and high. With this in mind, it is normal for a child to be afraid of this means of transportation. However, this fear can be reduced if we help them with these three simple tricks:

  • Keep it entertained: Bringing toys, a book or any other entertainment can make them forget about any concerns.
  • Anticipate what you will find: If this is the first time you travel, then explain what a plane trip is like: describe how a plane is, show videos, children's movies, etc.
  • Make him feel safe: If a child perceives fear or anxiety in those who accompany him, then he or she will also feel this discomfort. There is no better way to make them feel comfortable than to be relaxed yourself.
Children and the fear of flying

As for babies, body contact calms them, as well as gentle rocking. Another technique for them not to get nervous is to speak to them in a relaxed and soft tone.

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Finally, we have selected the previous and next article of the block "Travel by airplane"so you can continue reading:

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