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How to Overcome the Fear of Flying

Goda Brzozauskaite
  • Mar 25, 2022
  • 5 min read
Woman in plane suffer from airsick with stress headache

For many, the mere thought of flying can be rather overwhelming. The fear of flying, widely referred to as aerophobia, is often accompanied by a series of negative side effects such as anxiety, panic attacks, disorientation, choking sensations, and other mental health-related issues. These negative side effects, when left unattended, often have long-lasting effects on the individuals affected by it. 

Interestingly, aerophobia is the most popular term used to explain an individual’s fear of flying. There are also other phobias that are often closely associated with aerophobia, such as acrophobia, the fear of heights, and claustrophobia, the fear of small/confined spaces. This then makes it quite evident that there are often many factors that contribute to one’s fear of flying. 

Although aerophobia is traumatizing for many individuals, there are many recommended ways for one to overcome their fear of flying. However, it is essential to note that the process in itself takes a lot of time, dedication, patience, and practice, but it is ultimately possible. On your journey, you will also find that there are numerous ways individuals can find out what is behind the fear of flying. Here we discuss the various routes one can take to overcome their fear of flying.

Coping With Aerophobia

Dealing with aerophobia should not be an ongoing struggle. There are proven ways to take active steps towards overcoming this dreadful phobia of flying. Hence, the following pointers are some examples of how you can overcome your fear of flying today:

Acknowledge your fear

Acknowledging your fear of flying is extremely important as you begin your journey of recovery. A lot of individuals travel by airplane, as it is a fairly common thing to do, whether it is intended for business or leisure. However, many people are often too embarrassed to speak about their fear of flying and often conceal their struggle, which, in turn, is more damaging. Therefore, speaking to trusted individuals about your phobia-related struggle is essential. 

It's also important to remember that phobias affect many people all over the world, so you're not alone. By acknowledging and sharing this information with those you trust the most, or even with a professional, you may discover that many people in your close circle have phobias and have overcome them, which may serve as an inspiration to you.

Do your research

In order to overcome your fear of flying, you need to know exactly what it is and what you are dealing with as opposed to solely relying on what you may think you know. For instance, individuals may have a fear of flying; however, they may not know what the actual causes or triggers are. Alternatively, many individuals may have a fear of heights and do not realize how the fear of flying and the fear of heights are often related. Therefore, researching your phobia and making sense of how you feel often aids in your recovery process in terms of overcoming your fear of flying phobia.

Ask for help

It is rather common for individuals to attempt to resolve personal problems on their own. However, at times all it takes is reaching out and a helping hand to overcome our fears/problems.

You should not have to deal with aerophobia on your own, especially when there is so much help out there. Today, there are many professionals available to assist with this fear of flying phobia and many success stories when it comes to assisting individuals with overcoming these phobias, particularly aerophobia. All you need is that external push to make progress and essential changes in your life.

Seek treatment

It is extremely important to note that dealing with a phobia, particularly aerophobia, is rather difficult to overcome on your own, especially with limited knowledge of what you are dealing with. 

Research has shown that a fear of flying phobia, in particular, often results in individuals experiencing a variety of physical and mental-related reactions. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Severe anxiety 
  • Disorientation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Chills
  • Irritability 
  • Panic attacks
  • Clouded thinking
  • Flushed skin
  • Gastrointestinal upset

Seeking therapy, especially if you have pre-existing mental health issues, is strongly advisable, especially in severe cases. However, if face-to-face therapy sessions are not a suitable option for you, I strongly advise you to consider online counseling or online therapy from the comfort of your own home/private space. You may find this article on why people struggle to overcome mental health problems alone helpful.

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Treatment Options

Luckily, there are different treatment options a person with aerophobia can choose from. Let’s look more closely at the main ones. 

Exposure therapy

This particular type of therapy offers a variety of benefits for individuals who suffer from various phobias, including aerophobia. According to research, exposure therapy has been ranked one of the best forms of therapy, especially in aiding individuals with their overall fear of flying. Interestingly, this form of therapy is mainly conducted through controlled exposure to flying. These controlled exposures include virtual reality methods, visualization strategies, actual flights, or even flight stimulation. Find out more about what exposure therapy is.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is said to be one of the most popular and commonly used forms of therapy, particularly for patients affected with phobias. This form of therapy is centered on ongoing conversations between the therapist and their patients in an attempt to aid the patient in understanding their thought patterns, which are often negative and further assist and introduce them to developing new ways of coping with their fear of flying and assist them in pinpointing what exactly is triggering their current flight anxiety.

Systematic desensitization

This particular form of therapy makes use of what is referred to as the classical-conditioning principles. Thus, the overall goal of this form of therapy is to remove the fear responses of individuals and further seek ways that help replace these responses with relaxation responses instead. This is then achieved by making use of a counter conditioning method, which involves a patient being taught relaxation techniques along with a variety of breathing exercises. Once the patient is relaxed, they are gradually exposed to their fear. This method has proven to be effective in aiding individuals in overcoming their fear of flying. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Patients are encouraged to relive traumatic/triggering experiences in short doses while the therapist directs their eye movements. This method is said to be effective as reliving these experiences is the least emotionally upsetting when your attention is diverted.

Group therapy

This form of therapy is best suitable for individuals with milder fears of flying who do not have any underlying mental or physical issues. Also, this type of class often lasts roughly for a period of two to three days. These classes also give individuals the opportunity to meet with professionals, namely pilots, in this instance. The professional pilots offer some sort of consolidation to those with flying fears. 

Notably, during these sessions, individuals also learn about planes and the safety measures currently put into place solely for their own peace of mind. In some cases, individuals are even awarded the opportunity of boarding the plane itself.


Medication may also be prescribed by a psychiatrist in an attempt to alleviate certain symptoms of aerophobia, such as nausea or even anxiety. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications for patients suffering from aerophobia include but are not limited to Xanax and Valium, which aid with anxiety, or motion-sickness medications like promethazine. However, as much as these medications have aiding/calming properties, they often run the risk of interfering with the therapeutic effects of exposure.

Final Thoughts

Aerophobia has the ability to negatively impact your life in various ways. Fortunately, this phobia is treatable, and you can overcome it with the help of a good professional therapist, close friends and family, and medication, if necessary. Therefore, if you are suffering from aerophobia, you may find it helpful to reach out to a mental health professional, as they are best equipped with the tools and knowledge to best assist you in better understanding your phobia. 

They also offer treatment, and most importantly, are able to figure out whether there are any other underlying causes contributing to your fears of flying. Should you be interested in online therapy, we at DoMental are here to help you on your healing journey.


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