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Aviophobia or Fear of Flying

By Eileen Bailey

The fear of flying is called aviophobia and according to an article “Flying Phobia” on the website Phobia-Help.com, as many as 20% of people have some degree of fear when flying. Other reports place this as high as 40% to 50% of all people flying feel some fear.

Flying in a necessary form of travel for many people in the United States and around the world. Families are more spread out today. In order to visit with family over holidays, air travel may be the only option. Jobs may require people to travel. A fear of flying could severely interfere in personal and job opportunities.

Triggers

Flying is stressful. There are long lines, heightened security, and searches that can feel like an invasion of privacy. There is the added fear of terrorism. All of this is on top of the fear that something may go wrong with the plane while in the air. All of these can be triggers for people with anxiety.

A number of other triggers are also present when flying. Many of these triggers are caused by different types of phobias, such as:

  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of being in enclosed or crowded areas
  • Fear of being over water
  • Social anxiety, fear of close proximity to strangers

Fear of flying can develop even after years of flying or can be present in people that have never flown before.

Symptoms

The fear of flying can cause panic attacks. The symptoms of those are the same as the symptoms for other phobias:

  • Headache
  • Stomachache
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

Suggestions for Making Flying Easier

There are a number of steps people can take to eliminate some of the stress involved in air travel and therefore decrease the triggers for anxiety.

Use nonstop flights whenever possible. People are often most anxious during take-offs and landings. Minimizing these during air travel can minimize some of the stress.

Look for emergency exits. It may be reassuring to know where the emergency exits are in the plane. Emergency exits are not always located in the same place.

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