Aerophobia & Other Phobias

by guest blogger Psicoline

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, a strong and irrational fear of “something” that poses little or no real danger. Aerophobia, more commonly known as the fear of flying, is one of the most common. Before treating a phobia, you need to know is what type it is, in order to treat it correctly and keep it from leading to other phobias. You should be careful not to confuse aerophobia with phobias triggered by other situations that involve anxiety, such as those of enclosed spaces, places you can’t easily escape from, or even the fear of heights. 

Identification of Aerophobia

Some people feel some anxiety before taking a flight; nervousness is normal, but action needs to be taken when it becomes a problem. To identify that this anxiety rises to an actual phobia, it’s necessary to consider the symptoms caused by flying.  

The main triggers of aerophobia can be immediate and concrete, such as flight delays, turbulence, or even having had a bad experience onboard an airplane. But there are others which aren’t so noticeable and need to be assessed when diagnosing. For example, accidents covered and magnified by the media, or influence from a family member or someone close to us with a fear of flying. 

Symptoms appear when you expose yourself to the phobic stimulus, to your particular phobia. This situation is what causes an anxious reaction in your body, which is similar to the symptoms that can generate other phobias. Therefore it’s essential to detect the phobia that you have and not confuse it with others, and then take steps to solve it (or at the very least to not create more anxiety by not knowing which phobia you’re really suffering from). Tremors, tachycardia, gastrointestinal problems, disorientation, and irritability are some of the symptoms a person with aerophobia may experience. 


Related Phobias

Claustrophobia: the irrational and intense fear of small or crowded places. Aircraft cabins are small and enclosed, and the feeling of spending a lot of time in them can cause sufferers to become claustrophobic.

Social phobia: the intense and persistent fear of being observed or judged by others. Spending long periods of time on a plane with unknown people can generate anxiety and trigger you in this situation.

Acrophobia: the excessive fear of heights, which prevents normal activities in high places such as buildings or offices; and in this specific case, on flights. The sensation and reality of altitude on flights can be an impediment that adds to the aerophobia.

Agoraphobia: the fear and intense anxiety of being in places from where it’s difficult to escape or where help wouldn’t be available. It’s closely related to claustrophobia. 


Symptoms of Phobias

In discussing symptoms, one needs to focus on the similarities that exist between phobias. This can be the main obstacle in identifying and facing the problem. The best way to work with a phobia is to expose yourself to it. If you don’t correctly identify the phobia you have and how it affects you, you can’t expose yourself to it, so there won’t be any improvement. Poor or incorrect exposure is an ineffective treatment. 

The first step you must take is to recognise that you have anxiety about a certain situation. Then it’s important to identify the causes that generate your uncomfortable feelings so as not to confuse your phobia with a similar one. Once the causes have been identified, you must assess the symptoms and how they may limit your daily life. From there the next step is acceptance and being aware of the situation you’re going to face. And finally, starting treatment with suitable professionals. All these steps will help you, at some point, to see an improvement in your fears and phobias. 

Photo | AaronAmat26