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Fear of Flying

The fear of flying, also known as aviophobia, is a common and often debilitating phobia that can evoke intense anxiety or panic in individuals when faced with air travel.

What is Fear of Flying?

The fear of flying, also known as aviophobia, is a common and often debilitating phobia that can evoke intense anxiety or panic in individuals when faced with air travel. This fear can manifest due to various factors, including a fear of heights, lack of control, concerns about safety, or a traumatic past flying experience. Individuals with aviophobia may experience anticipatory anxiety leading up to a flight, marked by sleep disturbances, increased heart rate, and heightened stress levels.

Most individuals with aviophobia aren’t actually afraid of the plane crashing; instead, they feel anxiety by just being or thinking about being on a plane. They might know that their fear is irrational but can’t reason their way out of the anxiety.

Once on the plane, physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and nausea may intensify, accompanied by persistent fears of catastrophic events during the flight. Aviophobia can significantly impact a person’s personal and professional life, restricting travel opportunities and causing distress.

Treatment for Fear of Flying

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

At Light On Anxiety, our specialized therapists are trained to work with individuals experiencing fear of flying to address their specific concerns and symptoms.

Through CBT techniques such as exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, and relaxation training, clients gradually confront their fears related to flying in a safe and controlled environment, learn to challenge and reframe negative thoughts and beliefs about flying, and develop coping strategies to manage anxiety symptoms.

Our therapists provide a supportive and collaborative environment where clients can explore the underlying causes of their fear, gain confidence in their ability to cope with flying, and ultimately overcome their fear to travel more freely and comfortably.


Medication can be a helpful adjunct to therapy in the treatment of fear of flying, particularly for individuals with severe symptoms or co-occurring conditions such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

At Light On Anxiety, our team of psychiatric providers collaborates closely with clients to assess their unique needs and develop personalized medication regimens.

Our approach to medication management prioritizes safety, efficacy, and collaboration with clients to ensure they receive the most appropriate treatment for their symptoms while minimizing side effects.

Integrating CBT + Medication

At Light On Anxiety, we offer integrated treatment plans that combine evidence-based CBT therapy with medication management to address both the psychological and physiological aspects of fear of flying.

Our therapists and psychiatric providers collaborate closely to tailor treatment plans to each individual’s needs and preferences.

  • CBT helps individuals develop coping skills and address underlying cognitive and behavioral patterns contributing to their fear of flying.
  • Medication can provide additional support by reducing anxiety symptoms and enhancing the effectiveness of therapy.

Our approach involves a careful integration of CBT and medication, depending on patient preferences and clinical needs, to address both the biological and psychological aspects of fear of flying.

  1. Collaborative Treatment Planning: Our experienced team works collaboratively to create an individualized treatment plan that assists you in meeting your treatment goals as effectively and rapidly as possible.  
  2. Patient Empowerment: We believe in empowering you with comprehensive information about the fear of flying treatment options, allowing you to make informed decisions about your treatment journey. 
  3. Monitoring Progress: Regular monitoring and adjustments to your treatment plan are made based on your response and progress. This ensures you are obtaining maximum benefits from the time and energy you are putting into the fear of flying treatment process.  
  4. Ongoing Support:  We offer ongoing support and adjustments to your treatment plan as needed, ensuring a comprehensive and personalized approach to your path to healing.

Your Unique Path to Freedom From Fear of Flying 

Our goal is to create a treatment plan that aligns with your needs and preferences, recognizing that each individual’s journey is unique.

What are the symptoms of Fear of Flying?

The fear of flying can manifest through a range of symptoms, both psychological and physical. Common symptoms include:

  • Persistent worry and anxiety leading up to a scheduled flight.
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, shaking, or feeling lightheaded, increased heart rate or palpitations, nausea, stomach discomfort, muscle tension and/or restlessness.
  • Catastrophic thinking about potential accidents or mishaps during the flight and inability to focus or concentrate due to preoccupation with fears.
  • Sudden and intense episodes of fear or panic, often accompanied by a feeling of losing control.
  • Actively avoiding air travel or situations related to flying.
  • Feeling extremely anxious or distressed when boarding the aircraft.
  • Feeling disconnected from oneself or the environment.
  • Rapid or shallow breathing, often associated with anxiety.
  • Lingering anxiety or distress after completing a flight.

FAQs about Fear of Flying

The fear of flying is often considered irrational in the sense that it is disproportionate to the actual level of danger associated with air travel. Commercial aviation is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation, with rigorous safety standards and protocols in place. Despite these facts, individuals with a fear of flying may experience intense anxiety or panic, driven by irrational fears and concerns.

The fear of flying, or aviophobia, is generally categorized as a specific phobia rather than a standalone mental illness. Specific phobias involve an intense and irrational fear of a specific object or situation, in this case, flying. While aviophobia itself is not considered a mental illness, it can cause significant distress and impact an individual’s daily life.

Studies estimate that up to 25% of people have some fear of flying, with varying degrees of severity. While fear of flying is common, it’s important to note that many individuals with this fear can successfully manage or overcome it through therapy, support groups, or self-help strategies.

Hypnosis is sometimes used as a complementary approach to address the fear of flying, but it’s essential to understand that there is no guaranteed “cure” for specific phobias, including aviophobia.

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