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Flying Anxiety (Aviophobia)

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What is Flying Anxiety?

Flying anxiety, also known as Aviophobia, is a specific fear or anxiety related to flying in airplanes. People with flying anxiety experience intense feelings of fear, nervousness, or panic when they have to fly, or even think about flying. This fear can be triggered by various factors, such as turbulence, takeoff and landing, enclosed spaces, or the loss of control associated with being in an aircraft.

Individuals with flying anxiety often experience physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, or even panic attacks when faced with flying or flight-related situations. These symptoms can make flying an extremely distressing experience for them.

It’s important to note that flying anxiety is a common fear and many people experience it to varying degrees. However, for some individuals, this fear can be more severe and significantly impact their ability to travel by air.

If you experience abnormal amounts of anxiety about flying, it can be helpful to seek support and explore strategies to manage your fear. Techniques such as deep breathing, distraction, visualization, or seeking professional help through therapy or counseling can assist in reducing flying anxiety and making air travel a more comfortable experience.

What are the symptoms of Flying Anxiety (Aviophobia)?

Aviophobia, the clinical term for “flying phobia” or the fear of flight, is a crippling form of anxiety that is classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a specific phobia, characterized by a marked aversion towards flying on airplanes or any type of aircraft in general.

While the cause of Aviophobia can be varied, people experiencing the phobia may develop any/multiple of the below-mentioned symptoms either before or during an air flight:

  • Shaking or shivering
  • Increased heart rate or heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Clouded thinking or confusion
  • Irritation

For some, even the idea of traveling or booking a ticket for flight travel may induce these symptoms.

Medications for Flying Anxiety

It is quite common for people to take Ambien and/or Dramamine for their fear of flying symptoms or, alternatively, to help sleep during flights.

Ambien for Flying Anxiety

Ambien is the brand (trade) name for Zolpidem, a medication that is commonly prescribed for anxiety-related insomnia and other sleeping difficulties.

In addition to initiating sleep, Ambien has been shown in studies & common usage to help with anxiety. It is a powerful sedative that initiates sleep and alters brain chemistry. The medication works by increasing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger in the brain.

The responsibilities of GABA include slowing nerve firing, reducing anxiety levels and muscle tension and helping to initiate sleep. The neurotransmitter also diminishes the impact of brain chemicals which permit a person to fall asleep.

Dramamine for Flying Anxiety

Dramamine, an over-the-counter medication typically used to fight motion sickness, can perform double-duty as an anxiety relief solution for air travel.

Aerospace expert Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial pilot, explained in an interview that “many people think the OTC drug Dramamine is only taken to combat nausea, but it’s actually quite effective at inducing drowsiness and reducing anxiety in nervous flyers. I recommend it to passengers as an alternative to that pre-takeoff or in-flight martini. Besides, alcohol dehydrates the body on a cellular level, and the last thing anyone needs while traveling in the ultra-dry air of an airline cabin is more dehydration.”

Dramamine is an antihistamine that reduces the effects of natural chemical histamine in the body. It is typically used to treat or prevent nausea, vomiting, and dizziness associated with motion sickness, but the motion sickness drug provides relaxation benefits as well.

Where can I learn more about Flying Anxiety (Aviophobia)?

We recommend the following resources to learn more about Flying Anxiety (Aviophobia):

  1. Natural & Over-The-Counter Flight Anxiety Medications to Overcome Fear of Flying (Aviophobia)
  2. Dramamine for Anxiety – Is the anti-nausea medication good for fighting anxiety?