Fear of Flying

Fears of flying are very common. It’s completely normal to feel some nervousness while in the air, especially during take off and landing. However, if you dread flying and the apprehension begins days or weeks before a scheduled flight, you might have a more significant fear.

Signs of fear of flying include:

  • Avoidance of flying, including saying no to invitations, not accompanying loved ones on trips, or driving long distances to avoid flying
  • Worrying about flights well in advance of the trip
  • Checking the weather over and over
  • Physical symptoms of anxiety during a flight
  • Rapid heart rate, tightness in the chest, stomach distress or other discomfort
  • Panic attacks
  • Checking flight status or the weather repeatedly

For many people, the anxiety about flying is complicated. While the primary fear is often that the plane will crash, other fears also come up. These might include fears of turbulence or not being the one in control. Other common fears are being trapped and not able to escape, throwing up, having a panic attack, or having a medical emergency and not able to get help. Fears of doing something uncontrolled, like throwing open the plane doors or going crazy are also common.

Fears about flying can cause major problems in your professional and personal life. If you need to travel for work, anxiety about flights might lead you to decline opportunities or promotions that would benefit your career. In your personal life, you might struggle to accept invitations to weddings, family trips, or vacations. This can cause stress and conflict in your relationships and keep you from seeing people who are important to you. The anxiety that comes before a flight can also disrupt your ability to concentrate, impact your appetite, or result in difficulty sleeping. 


Therapy for Fear of Flying

We help with fear of flying by using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

We’ll work with you to develop new skills and strategies for dealing with flight anxiety. We’ll start by providing you with information about flying. Having facts about what happens during the flight and why you experience certain sensations (stomach dropping, sensations of lightness or heaviness, etc.) is the first step toward making the experience less stressful. CBT may also involve teaching you ways to relax your body, including breathing techniques or progressive muscle relaxation. We’ll help you identify and work with negative thoughts that come up and to develop coping statements that can help you think in a more flexible way. Finally, we’ll use some exposure practices to help you get used to some of the sensations that are likely to come up while flying. These practices will help you become more comfortable with the thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings that come up before and during stressful flights. 

With these new strategies, you’ll be able to take trips with less stress and live the life you want. For more information, please reach out and schedule a free consultation.