Information on the symptoms of Aviatophobia and how to overcome flight anxiety & fear of flying phobias.

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  1. What is Aviatophobia?
  2. What Causes Aviatophobia?
  3. Diagnosing Aviatophobia
  4. Help for Aviatophobia
  5. More Information on Aviatophobia

What is Aviatophobia?

Aviatophobia is defined as a fear of flying. It is also referred to as aviophobia, aerophobia or pteromechanophobia. People who suffer from aviatophobia become anxious and stressed at the thought of any transportation that involves air travel.

They may experience symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating and heavy breathing once they are in flight and have to contend with noisy aircraft movements and turbulence. Some people will have images of the plane crashing flash through their mind while others may be claustrophobic or have a fear of heights.

Very often, aviatophobia is often associated with other fears and phobias, and may not actually be about the flight. It is viewed as a symptom and not a disorder as a number of different causes may contribute to the fear of flying that manifests itself in different people.

Aviatophobia can seriously hamper career opportunities for a person whose work requires him or her to travel. It can also affect personal relationships with family and friends when the person always expresses an unwillingness to accompany them on holiday or visit them.

What causes Aviatophobia?

Aviatophobia or the fear of flying may be brought about as a result of:

  • Claustrophobia ( fear of closed in or confined spaces)
  • Previously bad flight experience
  • Lack of understanding about aviation
  • Turbulence
  • Distorted accounts of airline crashes by the media
  • Acrophobia (fear of heights)
  • Fear of terrorism or being hijacked
  • Loss of personal control
  • Agoraphobia (abnormal fear of open spaces, crowded public places or leaving a safe location)
  • Fear of flying over water
  • Fear of flying at night
  • Fear of death

Diagnosing Aviatophobia

The common physical symptoms and signs of aviatophobia include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors and shaking
  • Muscle soreness and muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations or chest pains
  • Heavy breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting

Psychological symptoms that may manifest include a clouded judgment, distorted memory or negative expectations.

Help for Aviatophobia

Anxiety associated with the fear of flying may be relieved with a number of various treatment options. Behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy, systematic desensitization or hypnotherapy can help to overcome feelings of anxiety and fear.

Systematic desensitization has proven to be highly effective and involves exposing the person to his or her fear until it has disappeared, and also teaching him or her relaxation techniques when faced with fear. Educating yourself about aircrafts and how they function has shown to be very beneficial in helping people to deal with their fears of flying.

Many people may opt to use anti-anxiety medications as a temporary solution to reduce anxiety and tension; however these medications can be particularly strong and lead to side effects such as further disorientation and grogginess. One should never be tempted to mix these medications together with alcohol as a means to relax and ease anxiety.

More Information on Aviatophobia

There are certain measures that can be taken to eliminate and cope with aviatophobia and these include:
  • Educate yourself about airplanes and flying – gather safety information, understand the mechanics of an airplane and learn what causes turbulence
  • Identify your specific fears associated with flying; ask yourself "what aspect of flying terrifies me?"
  • Reduce feelings of anxiety through a process of desensitization
  • Read self-help books, watch tapes or find online fear of flying courses to help you cope with the fear of flying
  • Practice positive self-talk to replace negative thoughts
  • Use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, tensing and releasing muscles to calm the mind and ease anxiety
  • Distract yourself while you flying by completing word searches, crossword puzzles, watching a movie, listen to soothing music, read a book or magazine
  • Fly with someone that you trust such as a spouse, family member or friend who can comfort you when you need reassurance
  • Avoid looking out of the window and do not sit in the window seat
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with tranquilizers or anti-anxiety medication to relax you – this is dangerous for your health, and will end up making you feel worse
  • Get support by joining support groups or online forums by listening and sharing experiences with others
  • Believe and have confidence in yourself that you can overcome your fear of flying
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