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Aerophobia: Are you afraid of flying?

Among many phobias a person can suffer from, the fear of flying is one of the more common ones. Basically, this fear manifests through one's fear of spending time in air while kept in an aircraft of any sorts. This phobia is also known as aerophobia.

An interesting fact about aerophobia is that it is actually a combination of several different fears like claustrophobia and acrophobia, the former being fear of enclosed spaces and the latter being the fear of heights.

Fear of Flying

Among the above mentioned combinations of fears creating aerophobia, fear of open spaces may be the possible constituent. One can imagine how this phobia interferes with a person's life, especially if his/her job requires constant traveling and flexibility.

Therefore, people who are bothered by the fear of flying find it hard to function in certain situations, avoiding aircrafts and any form of transportation involving spending time in the air. However, not all people who feel uncomfortable while on a plane have aerophobia. Rather, only persons who develop fear which prevents them from traveling by air are considered to actually have a phobia.

As far as the symptoms behind the fear of flying are concerned, there are several more prominent ones. Namely, the main sign of a phobia is the uncontrollable fear or a great amount of distress connected with traveling by air. Some extreme cases of this fear may even result in vomiting or suffering from panic attacks at the very sight or mentioning of aircrafts or any forms of transportation involving these.

Moving on to potential causes of aerophobia, other phobias need to be mentioned first, since these are mostly the main reasons behind it. For example, fear of experiencing an air crash, dying or getting injured, fear of closed or open spaces, fear of heights, fear of not being in control of the situation or even fear of vomiting may all be behind the fear of flying.

Furthermore, fear of suffering from panic attacks may prevent one from enjoying flying or managing to go through this process of transportation normally. Fear of hijacking and fear of turbulence are also related to the creation and the onset of this fear.

Finally, pregnant women, due to the fact that they are not in control of their hormonal activities may suffer from fear of flying at some points of this part of their lives.

Of course, there are other, indirect reasons behind this fear. For instance, those who have experienced some traumatic events related to flying may develop this phobia. Additionally, the media may be responsible for the fear people may feel regarding flying or using air transportation, due to all the stories about hijacking, terrorism and plane crashes.

Also, the ignorance of people regarding the functioning of aircrafts may give birth to the phobia, due to exaggerations and false beliefs. A person with the phobia may believe that the plane is bound to crash once its engine dies. Yet, this is not true and any minimal research into the science behind flying can help people understand this process more, decreasing their fears.

Methods of Overcoming Aerophobia

First of all, there are two major ways of dealing with aerophobia – pharmacological and non-pharmacological.

If medications are not used, educating people about aircrafts can result in a higher level of their confidence, helping phobic individuals overcome their fears, especially if these are caused by certain irrational beliefs.

Sometimes, getting exposed to flying by means other than being present in an aircraft is all one needs. If this is the case, skydiving, parachuting or undergoing some other exposure to flying makes a person overcome his/her aerophobia. Moreover, some airlines even finance such programs in order to help people break free from the clutches of their phobias.

However, in some cases, more serious forms of therapy are necessary for helping a person with a phobia of this type. As far as behavioral therapies are concerned, there are several types the affected person can opt for. One is systematic desensitization where, through gradual exposure to flying one manages to become less and less afraid of the process, tolerating it better.

Some people have managed to overcome their fears through hypnotherapy, through which their fears were located, analyzed and dealt with.

The other part of the treatment for the fear of flying is dealing with the anxiety which strikes in situations which require exposure to aircrafts through drugs. These specially prescribed drugs make a person calmer and less prone to nervousness which leads to panic attacks and other complications of his phobia.

To sum up, we all fear something. However, some people fear certain things more than others, with their fears growing bigger than normal, interfering with their lives, preventing them from living them normally. If this is the case with you and flying, do not fall into despair. Rather, know that nothing in this world is 100% safe, especially when it comes to traveling. Therefore, deal with the fact that you have to relax and enjoy the ride, rather than to panic. Yet, if you cannot manage this on your own, there are plenty of ways which can help you overcome your aerophobia.  

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