- Do you fear flying on airplanes?
- Does avoiding flying cause significant problems in your life?
- Do you experience panic attacks when flying?
- Do you worry about catastrophic events when you are in the air?
A flying phobia is experiencing intense fear or anxiety about flying, typically on an airplane. Even thinking about boarding a plane can invoke worry and panic-like feelings. Anticipatory anxiety is common when you feel anxious just thinking about flying. Thinking about a specific flying situation, such as sitting on an airplane, can cause significant distress. The anticipation of a dangerous event and the unpleasantness of the anxiety induced by flying is a focus. About 2.5% of the population experience a flying phobia.
Fortunately, flying phobias are treatable. Dr. Mazzei has years of experience helping individuals overcome phobias. She will work with you to identify how your phobia started and how best to treat it using evidence-based psychotherapy techniques.
Signs of flying anxiety include:
- Feeling irritable or restless when flying or when anticipating being in the air
- Having a panic attack while on board an aircraft or in the airport
- Feeling claustrophobic in small spaces, such as an airplane fuselage?
- Experiencing physical tension, such as in the neck or shoulders, when in the air
- Avoiding flying by taking impractical alternative modes of transportation
Signs and symptoms of a flying panic attack include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty breathing or hyperventilating
- Chest tightness
- GI upset
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling disconnected from your body
- Fear of dying or losing control
How Did My Phobia Start?
Phobias may develop for numerous reasons. Your personal life experiences and physiological make-up influence how phobias start.
- Phobias may trigger due to a negatively experienced event that happened in the past. For example, you may have endured a disturbing flying incident on an airplane that triggered fear or heightened anxiety. These memories were stored in your brain, along with the associated feelings. The same emotions arise whenever a similar stimulus, such as boarding an airplane, occurs. This is referred to as a conditioned response.
- Flying phobias can develop after a traumatic event, such as a family member dying from a tragic airplane accident.
- Family stress or other trauma in one’s life can trigger a phobia.
- Having an anxiety disorder, such as agoraphobia or panic disorder, can contribute to the development of a phobia.
How is Flying Phobia Treated?
Fortunately, psychological counseling has been shown to treat flying fear effectively. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used therapies to address phobias. CBT focuses on changing one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to target positive change. CBT encompasses techniques explicitly designed for phobias, including in vivo and imaginal exposure.
In vivo exposure refers to directly facing a flying situation once you’ve mastered certain skills, such as relaxation training and thought changing. The goal is to become calmer and relaxed once continually exposed to the event that triggered the fear. Imaginal exposure allows you to use your imagination to help you work through the anxiety triggered by driving fear. Along with Dr. Mazzei, a CBT specialist, you will create a hierarchy of flying situations from the least to the most anxiety provoking. Typically, imaginal exposure is used first, followed by in vivo exposure. Dr. Mazzei and you will work together to engage you in different situations, keeping you calm and in control.
Biofeedback and EMDR Therapies
As part of CBT treatment, you will learn relaxation techniques to help keep you calm while flying. Heart rate variability training (HRV) using biofeedback is an effective way to train your body’s automatic nervous system. You will learn to master voluntary control over your breathing, respiration, and heart rate.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another therapy that resolves any traumatic memories at the root cause of your flying phobia. With these combined therapies, you free yourself from the past and gain the skills to board an airplane confidently.
Hypnosis for Flying Phobia
Hypnosis involves entering a trance-like state to induce positive emotional and behavioral change. Hypnotherapy has been successful in treating flying fears. Guided by Dr. Mazzei, a certified hypnotherapist, you will enter a frame of mind in which you are given suggestions. These suggestions are tailored based on your specific needs, such as eliminating the fear of flying. You will likely feel incredibly relaxed when doing hypnosis. In this state, your mind is typically more open to change.
Flying Phobia Treatment
Dr. Mazzei has helped many people overcome their driving phobia as a psychologist and phobia specialist. She integrates proven psychological therapies into treatment while focusing on giving you emotional support. She utilizes CBT, hypnosis, biofeedback, and EMDR therapy to provide the most effective treatment for you. If you want to start flying confidently, Dr. Mazzei is here for you.
How Dr. Mazzei Can Help You
If you are suffering from a flying phobia, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how Dr. Mazzei can help you, follow these simple steps:
- Text today at (480) 448-6755or email us for a free consultation
- Or, you can book directly online with Dr. Mazzei
- Begin your journey towards a fulfilling and healthier life
Dr. Mazzei offers in-person flying phobia treatment in Chandler, AZ, and online phobia therapy for Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee, and PSYPACT residents.