Millions of people across the country suffer from a variety of anxiety disorders. The typical disorder is characterized by extreme fear, nervousness, or worry that leads a person to avoid specific places or activities. Dr. Andrew Rosen, a Boca Raton psychologist, notes that one of the most commonly known fears is a fear of flying. He says that, as with any anxiety, there is an irrational exaggeration of the possibility of something bad happening even though the risk of being hurt or killed in a plane crash is one in many millions. Additionally, a fear of flying can involve several components of anxiety that are not specific to airplanes. These components can include:
- Not understanding the reasons for strange sounds and sights around you
- Being dependent on the judgment of an unknown person (in this case, the pilot)
- Fear of heights
- Dislike or fear of enclosed spaces or crowded conditions
- Sitting in hot, stale air
- The possibility of terrorism
The physical and emotional symptoms associated with a fear of flying are similar to those seen in most anxiety disorders. The physiological symptoms can include:
- Muscle tension and labored breathing
- Chest pain and/or heart palpitations
- Abdominal discomfort
- Flushed or pale face
The psychological symptoms can include:
- Impaired memory
- Narrowed perceptions
- Poor or clouded judgment
- Negative expectancies
The Boca Raton psychologist says there are many coping strategies that can be effective when working through a fear of flying, such as:
- Expanding your awareness beyond the unpleasant situation. Realize that being paralyzed with fear will not make you any safer.
- Understanding that your anxiety won’t disappear overnight. Celebrate even the smallest successes you have, such as making it to the airport, then making it on to the plane, then getting through the takeoff. Take one thing at a time.
- Focusing on what you can do to relax instead of focusing on your fear. Many people bring books, puzzle books, music, or computers with them while they travel. Having something like this gives you something else to focus your energy on.
The fear of flying can be a debilitating anxiety but it can certainly be treated and overcome. For more information on this or other anxiety disorders and their treatment methods, contact Boca Raton psychologist, Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.