Aerophobia – Fear of Flying

Passengers in a Cathy Pacific plane.

Fear of Flying or Aerophobia is a delicate medical condition which has raised concerns primarily due to increasing aviation accidents and security issues over the years. Bad experiences of flying need not be necessarily bracketed with aviation accidents, but could also be referred to incidents experienced at airports, or with people whilst traveling. Negative incidents give birth to post-traumatic stress, in which the person is unable to cope with incidences and loses control over his emotional self. The anxiousness of experiencing a similar unpleasant incident again, causes deep-rooted fear to develop even though the probability of similar incident to occur is small.

Aerophobia is a well-defined phobia in itself. However, its roots can be traced to complex psychological issues or a combination of existing phobias. Fear of water, closed or open spaces, crowds, heights and anxiety disorder may possibly result in Aerophobia.

Symptoms of Aerophobia:

  • Panic attacks and Vomiting at the very mention of flying
  • Post-traumatic stress symptoms such as depression, anxiety relating to flight and air travel.
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Fear of water, closed or open spaces, crowds or heights

Treatment Options for Aerophobia:

Cognitive behavior therapy, Hypnotherapy and Systematic desensitization are some of the methods involved in treating patients suffering from Aerophobia.

  • Cognitive behavior therapy: When a patient confronts an underlying fear or a stressful situation, his nervous system goes through a series of changes causing the phobia to come into the forefront. Cognitive behavior therapy works on this very thinking process or approach of the patient towards a situation and helps him rationalize the situation.
  • Systematic desensitization: In Systematic desensitization the patient is exposed to his fears whilst he is in a deep state of relaxation.
  • Hypnotherapy: In hypnotherapy, the patient is put under a deep spell of relaxation where his sub-conscious mind is in control. Communication between sub-conscious and conscious mind restructures the patient’s belief, approach and perception towards situations and incidents.

Medication is suggested for patients suffering from anxiety and distress. Drugs offer respite to a certain extent, although it depends on the patient’s honesty towards the treatment for the medication to work to its full potential. Anxiety driven drugs are not a permanent solution and are to be used with other treatment options.

There are other therapies as well that are proved to suppress aerophobia. Herbal remedies, Musical Therapy, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP), Relaxation therapy, EMDR Technique, Psychotherapy, Time Line Therapy and Aromatherapy are the popular ones among them.

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