I know something about fear of flying. About six months ago I had a panic attack on a flight from New Jersey to California . It was probably caused by a lack of sleep that causes my anxiety and my fear of panicking on the plane, which in the end is exactly what happened.
It was not officially diagnosed with panic attacks, I've known since high school that anxiety is the reason why I sometimes experience intense seizures accompanied by physical symptoms like sweaty palms, extreme nausea and shortness of breath.
My plane landed safely and I had a great time on my journey, but my flying experience was obviously not ideal. Although I made it through my return journey without a panic attack, I found myself in a similarly agonizing state on a recent flight, this flight to Florida. I got off the plane and never wanted to feel trapped in the sky again.
To get closer to this reality, I talked to three psychologists who have experience treating people who are afraid of flying. Here are some of the best ways to deal with fear of flying.
Why is there a fear of flying at all?
"The Fear of Flying [can be] is a confluence of many different phobias," Martin Seif, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and director of the Freedom to Fly workshop on timid aviators, who at Westchester County Airport is held in New York, says SELF. "Fear of heights, confined spaces", social situations or leaving the comfort zone can make you afraid of flying, Seif explains.
In other cases, people are afraid of flying because they have had a bad flight Alexander Alvarado, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in phobias and anxiety, and owner of Thriving Mind Psychology Private practice in New York City, speaks, says SELF. Or maybe they have never flown before and do not know what to expect. The complex mechanisms of aviation do not help. Many people are nervous about flying because they do not understand how airplanes work. is somehow wild that they can just stay that way.)
As I've experienced, panic attacks are another common reason for fear of flying. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), panic attacks are breathless, characterized by a rapid onset of overwhelming anxiety or fear, and at least four physical or mental symptoms, such as tremor, Chest Pain and fear of dying.
According to the National Institute of Mental if you experience repeated panic attacks without apparent triggers, you may have a panic disorder health (NIMH). A common feature of panic disorder is the intense fear of another panic attack, especially in situations in which you have had one in the past. So, if you've had a panic attack in a grocery or confined space plane, you're more likely to suffer from debilitating worries in your grocery or on a plane.
Even if you have a panic attack if you do not you might fear the whole flight to experience a flight, Seif says. This may cause you to avoid flying even if you want to travel in theory .
Fear of flying can become so severe that it becomes an anxiety disorder.
Also known as aviophobia, fear of flying is listed in DSM-5 as a specific phobia . This means that you have an intense fear of an object or situation out of proportion with the actual risk, according to the Mayo Clinic . Airborne phobias are symptoms such as avoiding flying (or the feeling of panicking when you need to fly), a scare, if you even think of getting on a plane, and physical reactions such as shaking.
Specific phobias are some of the most common anxiety disorders, but there are a number of fear of flying here. You can be afraid of flying without actually having a phobia. The latter includes long-lasting, life-disturbing physical and psychological reactions to air traffic.
Wherever you fall on the fear of flying spectrum, there are tactics that can reduce your fear .
Learning aviation can help some people overcome the fear of flying.
Fear of flying may result from a lack of understanding, so it can be helpful to learn more about how airplanes work.
As part of Seif's Freedom In order to fly the program, participants learn aeronautical facts to counter their anxious thoughts. "Fear … [is] fueled by" what if "catastrophic thinking," says Seif. Through training in aviation, those who fear flying learn to question this train of thought.
"If someone has the thought," I can not fly because it's more dangerous [than driving] and I could crash, "learning about flying could help you have a counter-idea, namely" aircraft are actually safer as driving "." Gabrielle Avery-Peck, Ph.D., psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders disorders including panic disorder and specific phobias, tells SELF. If you know more about aviation, you can tell yourself that the bump you hear does not break the plane. You know that turbulence is essentially the version of an aircraft on a pothole, and no sign that the flight is down.
Aviation alone helps with less severe fear of flying. no real phobia. If you choose, it is important to pay attention to how you conduct aeronautical research.
Focusing on aviation disasters could only increase the fear of flying.
Avery-Peck warns that there is one The limit between learning aviation and learning aviation is so great that it makes you freak out even more.
One big reason for flying today is so certain that aviation experts have changed aircraft equipment and protocol due to past crashes. If you are involved in aviation, you may come across a lot of graphical information about how certain aircraft crashes have occurred. Depending on how your mind works, these details can fuel your anxiety even more.
It is also possible that aviation research will become a " security behavior " for people with fear of flying, Avery-Peck says. This means that you are doing something because you think it will protect you when it really does not work. It's basically like a mental crutch. At this point you will no longer learn about aviation in order to redesign your already existing ideas of flying. Instead, you could encourage the idea that reading a plane is the only way you can fly, which is not constructive in the long run.
Here are some resources to learn more about aviation in an airplane helpful way.
You do not know exactly where to start? Start Here:
- View this list of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which explains the general sounds associated with each flight step . It can help you avoid catastrophic thinking if you hear a sound that you would otherwise not recognize.
- Read a book designed to help fear of flying. Some, like the Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith : Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel are actually written by pilots who can explain aviation to laymen.
- View informational videos of various airlines as they are offered by British Airways . You can virtually visit some of their popular aircraft and get acquainted with the basic features of the aircraft for free.
- Use online self-help manuals such as this free which is offered by The Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center of Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina. It provides a step-by-step source of information to help you understand and overcome your fear of flying.
- Google "anxious pilot program near me". Timid aviation programs can offer a variety of techniques, such as: Individual coaching, aviation training courses, and sometimes in-person or virtual reality airport and airplane tours. Some programs, such as Freedom to Fly by Seif (19459088), even offer the option of a "graduation flight" at the end of the program, during which you take a short flight with a psychologist as well as a group of other anxious people.
- Take a flying lesson at a flight academy near you . Often referred to as "discovery flights," this usually involves a short flight in a small plane, so a pilot can explain the technical aspects of flying. (Of course, you should do your research to make sure you're safe and properly licensed everywhere, and do not force yourself to do so when you're scared.)
If you feel like learning about aviation on your own Only make things worse, or if you've tried and you do not see any progress, Avery-Peck says it might be helpful to get counseling from a psychiatrist.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common therapeutic approaches for fear of flying.
Until CBT people are learning to rewrite their thoughts and question the belief in their fears, Avery-Peck says.
A CBT technique known as ] Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) can be particularly helpful in the case of fear of flying, according to Avery-Peck. It's about exposing someone to a situation that arouses fear, and then training them to deal with those feelings in a healthy way. Avery-Peck uses Virtual Reality (VR) to do it with those who are afraid of flying.
"Virtual Reality will take you home by waiting, picking you up in a taxi, driving to the airport, waiting at the gate, boarding the plane, then being on the plane itself," she says. Some practices may even attempt to personalize your VR experience by capturing and using footage from the airport, Alvarado says. He explains that his practice does so, if possible.
Using ERP With VR, a therapist may ask you to restore the physical sensation of anxiety by jumping or hyperventilating your heart rate so that you do not breathe normally. Your therapist may also provide you with techniques such as Breathe to learn how to soothe the physiological signals that contribute to your anxiety.
"The goal is to get used to your anxiety," Avery-Peck says "We inadvertently remain anxious by interpreting our physiological symptoms as dangerous. [Your body] can learn that something is scary, but it can also unlearn that something is scary.
If your fear of flying really affects your life, it's important to get a psychological assessment. Only then can you work to overcome your fear of flying. To find help, try "Googling", "Fear of Flying Therapy Near Me", or explore resources such as Psychology Today and GoodTherapy for practitioners who respond to anxiety, phobias, and Panic attacks are specialized. The right therapist can help you with your coping skills through CBT and other measures; you can determine if something of which you are unaware contributes to your fear of flying and tell you whether you may benefit from anxiety medication ] When you fly.
While my panic attacks did not make me fly sometimes they made the experience very unpleasant. Now that I know there are so many ways to fight my fear, I hope that fearless flights are in my future.