As the holidays approach, so do some of the busiest travel days of the year. Many of us will be flying to visit friends and relatives and some just to get away for a break during a busy time of year. Booking a trip is exciting, but what if the mere thought of flying causes a sense of dread or, worse, gives rise to full on panic? Fear of flying is not only quite real, it also very common.
The National Institute of Health estimates that about 6.5 percent of the U.S. population has aviophobia – also known as a fear of flying – and roughly 25 percent experience some type of flying-related anxiety. Many people who must fly despite their fear will turn to alcohol or prescription medication to ease their discomfort. Others will avoid flying altogether, which can leave someone feeling embarrassed and even cause negative impacts on their career.
Fear of flying can present as an isolated phobia, but it can also be part of a larger picture of anxiety and fears. Understanding its relationships to other fears, its causes and effects often varies from person-to-person.
Aviophobia can be limiting, but luckily this type of anxiety disorder is very treatable.
- For some, merely explaining how airplanes work and how commercial aviation operates is sufficient to allay much of the fear. In addition, understanding that flying is among the safest forms of travel. For instance, you’re more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapies can be quite effective in treatment of many anxiety disorders and phobias, and fear of flying, in particular.
- Techniques, such as clinical hypnosis, have been very effective. These treatments are often time-limited and employ very practical and hands-on approaches.
- Some programs will accompany a person on a commercial airliner and certain airlines run their own programs for passengers.
- Additionally, advancing technology has led to the developments of large-scale virtual reality systems and research into these techniques has yielded some promising results.
If the approaching holidays bring with it a sense of dread due to flying or if the desire to get away is quashed by that fear, remember that there are very effective ways to manage and even overcome this issue.