All Posts Tagged: extreme fear of flying

Fear of Flying – Help in South Florida

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the United States. Typically, anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme fear, nervousness, or worry about something specific (for example: fear of public speaking or a fear of social situations). These worries lead the person to avoid specific places or activities. One of the most common fears is a fear of flying, and it is often brought to the forefront in people who suffer from it by media coverage of airplane crashes such as the recent Asiana Airlines disaster in San Francisco.

As with any anxiety, fear of flying (also known as aerophobia or aviophobia) leads people to experience irrational thoughts of the possibility that something will happen when they fly, even though the odds against being hurt or killed in a plane crash are enormous. This fear of flying can be from anxiety over the actual process of flying or can be from a combination of several anxiety components that are not all specific to airplanes. These components can include:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Worry that you will be sick in front of other passengers if your plane hits turbulence
  • Not being in control
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of terrorism

Physically and emotionally, the symptoms that come with a fear of flying are similar to those seen in most generalized anxiety disorders. The physical symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Being easily startled
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating and nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Negative expectancies
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor or clouded judgment
  • Narrowed perceptions

Because flying anxiety can ruin family vacations and make it impossible for business people to travel, it is beneficial to try one of the many effective ways to cope with a fear of flying:

  • Know what to expect: educating yourself to understand the sounds and sensations of flying can help you realize the aircraft will not fall apart during flight
  • Realize that being paralyzed with fear will not make you any safer
  • Avoid watching disaster movies or media coverage about airplane crashes prior to your flight. Keep in mind that, for every plane crash, thousands of other planes make it safely to their destination
  • If you are claustrophobic, choose an aisle seat so you don’t feel closed in
  • Focus on something that can help you relax instead of focusing on your fear. Bring a book, a puzzle book, music, an iPad or tablet with you while you travel. These distractions give you something else to focus on.

If your fear of flying can’t be overcome with one of these techniques, contact a mental health professional. They can help you find relief through:

  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization, which can help you replace your negative thoughts with positive, realistic ones
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Exposure therapy where people experience simulated flying to help manage their anxiety and overcome their fears
  • Medications

The fear of flying can be debilitating, but it can be treated and overcome. For more information on how you can overcome fear of flying, Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

 

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