What is Aerophobia?
The term aerophobia can be used to describe both a fear of flying or a fear of breezes and fresh air; the most commonly used expression of the term refers to those whom are phobic of flying.It is a fairly common type of phobia affecting women slightly more than men, and is seldom discussed by sufferers as they fear ridicule and embarrassment from their peers.
Affects of AerophobiaAs with many phobias, aerophobia can cause many levels of distress and anxiety and can interfere with normal activities of living, with the possibility of leading to depression. This is especially true if the sufferer has friends or family members living abroad, or if they have unfulfilled lifetime ambitions that would necessitate a trip abroad.
These issues, along with others, can also contribute to the sufferer using alcohol or substitutes as a coping mechanism.Aerophobia not only causes psychological trauma to the sufferer, there are a great many physical symptoms also.
Signs and Symptoms of AerophobiaAerophobia can cause many physical problems in the sufferer. These symptoms can begin at the mere thought of flying, upon entering an airport, spending time in an airport or when about to board the aeroplane.Symptoms can include or incorporate all of the following: shortness of breath, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, dizziness and shaking.
Some sufferers experience a mild form of anxiety, with less severe symptoms, whilst others can develop full panic attacks that can be very distressing for the person and those around them. These attacks can be acute and the person may be calmed quite quickly, or the sufferer may endure longer periods of these bouts, some requiring medical attention.
Causes of AerophobiaAlthough there is much speculation over the causes of phobias, many sufferers will be able to explain theirs in a way that may seem irrational to other people. The sufferer themselves will often accept the logical argument and will agree that their phobia is based on an irrational fear but this does not help them conquer their fear.
Many sufferers blame their fears on remembering images from intense media coverage of flight disasters, others reflect on films they have watched or books they have read, some may have encountered a previous experience of flying that was not particularly pleasant, whilst for some, there will be no explanation and the phobia may have been passed down and learned by a family member who has also suffered from this condition.
Treatments for AerophobiaAs with many illnesses and disorders, there is a selection of available treatments that can be used to succeed in overcoming aerophobia.
Initially the sufferer may need medication for managing their anxiety and any physical symptoms they experience.Longer-term treatment options may include cognitive and/or behavioural therapies, hypnosis or other approved therapies that can help alleviate the fear and replace it with confidence based on the logical statistics of flying and also by discovering the causes of the problem, and addressing those issues.
Therapy based treatment does not come without problem however, as many sufferers soon realise that they are not a quick fix to their problem and will sometimes take months to begin to work, so many do not complete their full course of recommended treatment, preferring to rely on medications to allow them to travel by air.
Aerophobia is the fairly common but distressing fear of flying. It causes differing levels of anxiety and symptoms in different people, but can be overcome, usually by a combination of medications and therapies.