Did you know that one in three Americans is afraid of flying? Fear of flying can combined multiple phobias including aviophobia (fear of flying machines) with claustrophobia (fear of being inside a restricted space), acrophobia (fear of being at great heights), and agorophobia (fear of being in an environment from which there is no escape).   Some people suffer from severe motion sickness when flying and fever of vomiting (emetophobia) can also be a concern.  Many people fear there will be a plane crash in spite of plane crash statistics showing flying is one of the safest ways of travel.  Because so many people suffer from anxiety related to flying, some health care experts feel that fear of flying should be its own unique phobic disorder.

Since so many people need to fly, fear of flying can cause serious problems for susceptible individuals. Fortunately, there are ways to treat this condition.

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Treating phobic disorders can be very difficult. A number of approaches have been proposed to treat fear of flying. One solution was to put people who are afraid to fly in flight simulators. The results were disappointing as the subjects knew they were in a simulator instead of a real plane and did not find improvement in symptoms. Other attempts to desensitize people with flying disorder include simply flying frequently to reduce the fear of flying. Other ways to reduce fear of flying include learning more about airplanes, flight, and flight safety including aircraft safety operations.  Some people even learn to fly or take up skydiving to overcome the fear of the unknown. However, these approaches are not helpful for most people who fly infrequently or suffer from crippling anxiety when they fly in spite of behavioral therapy. Pharmacologic treatment includes benzodiazepines such as Xanax or Valium. While these medications aren’t good choices to treat generalized anxiety disorders, they can be very helpful for the treatment of specific phobic disorders in which the stressor is of a brief duration, such as a flight. Our staff can prescribe these medications at our McCarran Airport or DFW Airport locations.

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