Fear of Flying

Posted on: 25th September 2017

What is a Fear of Flying?

Fear of flying (aerophobia) is one of the most common phobias that is thought to affect around one in ten people. A fear of flying may be due to a phobia of aircraft or it may be the result of other psychological disorders that impact the individual’s daily life such as anxiety, claustrophobia, panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder. These disorders may stop them from doing things or going places, which could eventually result in social isolation or a strain on work and personal relationships. There are two common forms of flying related anxiety;

  1. 1. The passenger is fearful of external factors such as turbulence, aircraft defects or bad weather conditions.
  2. 2. The passenger feels a loss of control over their emotions that may cause them embarrassment in front of their fellow passengers.


What are the symptoms?

As with many phobias, we may avoid what we fear but in some cases, the symptoms can be brought on just by thinking about it. Here are some of the most common reactions:

  • Physiological response to threat e.g. nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, sweaty palms, racing heartbeat and shallow breathing
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Overwhelming anxiety or distress in anticipation of flying
  • Avoiding getting on a plane
  • Having negative and usually irrational thoughts towards flying and plane function
  • Using unhealthy coping strategies such as drugs or alcohol to keep calm
  • Paying particular attention to plane incidents in the media


What causes a Fear of Flying?

Statistically speaking, flying is still the safest mode of transport, so it is often the case that fear of flying might be the manifestation of other phobias you may have. For instance, you may fear a crash or hijacking, being in an enclosed space, heights or even not being in control. Other underlying psychological issues that affect the individual on a daily basis may contribute to their fear of flying.

How to get over your Fear of Flying

Our team at The Blue Tree Clinic are expertly trained to help individuals with many types of phobias, including a fear of flying. They will assess your level of symptomology and customise a therapy plan that is tailored to suit you. We offer Cognitive Behavioural and Cognitive Analytic Therapies in order to help you identify what exactly triggers this fear and whether it may be related to a past trauma or another event.

In this way, they will support you to create techniques that allow you to overcome the sense of threat and help you to work on systematically desensitising yourself from the phobia. Psychotherapeutic techniques such as Narrative Exposure Therapy can also be appropriate in the case that your fear is related to a particularly traumatic event.

Your therapist may suggest that a graded exposure plan could help you to become more comfortable with the idea of flying before engaging in a flight watching or simulate a flight experience and then ultimately getting on a plane. In some cases, hypnotherapy can aid your relaxation in the presence of your phobic thoughts.

Additionally, our team may suggest that psychiatric treatment could be beneficial, where a doctor may run physical tests or recommend anti-anxiety medications.

If you believe that you may benefit from seeing a member of our team, we urge you to get in contact by phone or via the form below.