Fear of Flying - All Your Questions Answered
How common is a phobia of flying?
Fear of flying seems to be one of the most common forms of travel fear. We all know people who don’t like to fly, and people who have had bad experiences are all too willing to share the gruesome details of that time when the turbulence was really bad. Which just makes your fear of flying even worse. You’ve just told them you are scared and now they are telling you their very worst experience – WHAT!?
Aviophobia, or aerophobia is the real name for fear of flying, but I’ve never had a client visit me and use those words. I don’t even use it in sessions either. I don’t even know why they have 2 names for it. Isn’t it scary enough already?
What is fear of flying?
It’s when you are really, really scared of flying! In all seriousness, it is an intense fear that causes you to not behave in a way you would usually expect to. Some people with a fear of flying start experiencing their symptoms days or weeks in advance of even travelling to the airport. Some of the common things I have seen people experience in my time as a hypnotherapist and mentor is a sense of anger building in the weeks coming up to travel, which causes the family to have to walk on eggshells. This is because you are starting to become so stressed with the thoughts in your mind, it’s just filling you up and of course, you vent to those closest to you.
Some clients, don’t sleep, they stop eating or going out. Some people even experience such sheer panic beforehand that they vomit, and find they cannot physically do anything in their normal life because this fear zaps so much of their energy.
Fear of flying can be a lot more than just about being on the aeroplane for some.
What is it like to live with fear of flying?
Having this fear of flying can limit and impact your life in many ways. Your career can be impacted if you can’t travel, missing out on family holidays, weddings, even meeting with long lost friends and relatives. Of course I have listed some of the most extreme symptoms that people have experienced, but it can also be less intense for others. Like with any fear of phobia, people experience things differently.
However, common symptoms are, sweating, panic attacks, heart feels like its jumping out of your chest.
Is the fear of flying a mental illness?
Well, I’m not a Dr so I would not diagnose, but it is listed in the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) which is a big book of references from the American Psychiatric Association that focuses on mental health and brain-relatedditions.
What do doctors prescribe for fear of flying in the UK?
A lot of my clients used to get a prescription to calm their nerves for fear of flying. Something strong enough that would knock them out on the plane, or enough to make them feel numb to get through it. But without listing off the list of medications that used to be available, from my hypnotherapy sessions I have seen a sharp increase in people whose Doctors no longer prescribe them anything and so this – hypnotherapy - is their last resort. I think this is a great thing that Doctors, certainly in the UK, are recommending other approaches to help. Another popular choice for masking the problem is drinking more alcohol than you should to attempt to sleep through transit, but the alcohol just makes the anxiety worse in the long run.
How can I get rid of my fear of flying?
The beauty of this world is that we have options. Of course, I am going to rave about hypnosis not just because it can help you with fear of flying, but the skills it will teach you can be applied to many other aspects of your life as well.
How many sessions of hypnotherapy do you need for fear of flying?
I’m a big advocate of fixing the problem, not just the symptoms. There are plenty of options where you can go and get 1 session and ease the symptoms, but why just ease them when you can alleviate the triggers that cause the symptoms?
I have found over the last 9 or so years that we make massive strides in session 1, but it’s the work that takes place after that, that really cements the change into your behaviour and the core of who you are so that you are not affected by it in the long term. In Fearful Flyer to Happy Traveller, we have 4 sessions so that we can deal with all the aspects of your fear. The thoughts, feelings, images, emotions, and sensations that you experience are all taken care of from the angst to even booking a trip up to coming home. Neutralise the nerves around the whole aspect of travel.
Crush your worries, thoughts and fears about getting to the airport, security, packing, accidentally getting arrested, (I know several people who have secretly convinced themselves they have contraband in their undies without knowing it!) turbulence…the whole narrative about flying in this ‘tin can in the sky’ changes – you name it we can change it.
Does the fear of flying ever go away?
I’d say so yes – Hypnosis has been studied and results showed that hypnotizable patients were over two and one-half times more likely to report some positive treatment impact - After just 1 session. Imagine How you will feel after 4! You can read the study on PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25928602/