About Fear of Flying (Aviophobia)

As fear of flying a phobia is generally against the fly with the aircraft denoted (Aviophobie). However, it can occur as soon as you enter an airport or when you see a plane. Fear of flying is one of the mental illnesses.

What is fear of flying?

According to ELECTRONICSENCYCLOPEDIA.COM, a fear of flying manifests itself with panic-like symptoms or symptoms typical of the disease when a flight is imminent. Those affected react to this with considerable stress, with loss of control and anxiety attacks or panic attacks.

The fear of flying can also be seen in sweaty hands, upset stomach, vomiting or headaches. The racing heart and a much higher pulse are also part of it when those affected realize the supposed dangers of a flight.

The fear of flying is one of the most widespread mental illnesses, but therapy can in many cases be completely cured. Nevertheless, the lives of those suffering from fear of flying are always significantly negatively affected.


What exactly the fear of flying is based on cannot be said in general terms. Especially with those people who are entering an airplane for the first time, the symptoms can be a warning of the unknown. Another fear of the fear of flying is living through emergency situations that cannot be influenced.

These include turbulence during flight or a rapid drop in flight altitude. In general, the fear of flying is characterized by a loss of control in the narrowly confined aircraft. It is also realized that accidents almost always have tragic consequences and regularly result in the death of the passengers.

In addition, the fear of flying can also be based on previous psychological stress. The phobia of being locked in (eg claustrophobia) or altitude (eg fear of heights) are typical features of the fear of flying.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

People with a fear of flying always experience certain physical symptoms, behaviors and thoughts when they are confronted with an airplane or flying itself. The symptoms of this anxiety disorder can range from mild discomfort to panic attacks. The fear that occurs often feels life-threatening for those affected. The first signs often appear after the flight has been booked.

The respective fears of those affected can differ from one another. Some aviophobes fear the tightness of the plane or the lack of opportunities to escape, while others fear a plane crash. Knowing that people around you do not perceive the situation as threatening does not alleviate fear. For many sufferers, the physical symptoms predominate.

Aviophobics often suffer from sweating, wet and / or cold hands, palpitations, stomach pain, diarrhea, a strong urge to urinate, nausea, loss of appetite or tremors. Many of those affected get palpitations and as a result dizziness and attacks of suffocation. The symptoms usually appear weeks before the upcoming flight and get more and more intense by then.

An important sign of aviophobia is a pronounced avoidance behavior. Those affected bypass their fear of flying by not booking air travel. Some aviophobes fight their anxiety with alcohol or narcotics.


The course of the fear of flying also always depends on the individual case. Often, however, the realization of an upcoming flight will be accompanied by discomfort and feelings of fear. The closer the day of departure comes, the more symptoms appear in those affected by the fear of flying.

The first sweats are usually followed by upset stomach and headaches. The last one or two days before the flight, the intensity of the panic attacks increases. They begin with increased stress, but then turn into a sheer fear of flying.

The sufferer has the feeling that they are inevitably heading towards the greatest conceivable threat and that they are literally being absorbed by it. He does not see any way out with the fear of flying. On the day of travel and while sitting on the plane, the person is in many cases unresponsive, very tense and seems almost completely beside himself. A loss of control thus symbolizes the fear of flying.


Various complications can arise with fear of flying. These are usually psychological in nature and do not lead to any health impairments or disadvantages. However, the fear of flying can have a negative impact on social life. Due to the fear of flying, the mobility of the person concerned is limited.

There are other ways of getting around, but traveling to other continents is difficult. This can lead to the breakdown of social contacts or relationships. This leads to mental health problems and depression in many people. It is not uncommon for other people to fail to understand the fear of flying and describe it as harmless.

Here, too, there can be social disadvantages. A specific treatment of the fear of flying cannot be carried out. However, patients with the same symptom can meet for talks. Talking to people who have overcome their fear of flying also helps.

In many cases, the patient cannot completely overcome his fear of flying, but still dares to go on a plane. This means that short flights are sometimes possible. Unfortunately, it cannot be universally predicted whether the fear of flying can be cured. No drugs are used in the treatment and there are no complications.

When should you go to the doctor?

Fear of flying does not have to be treated in every case. However, therapy makes sense if the person concerned suffers severely from the fear of flying. An anxious patient who frequently travels by airplane for work tends to suffer from the phobia more than someone who flies by airplane once or twice in their lifetime.

Fear of flying can coexist with other fears or other psychological symptoms. In this case, too, it is advisable to speak to a doctor or therapist about the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, it should be clarified whether the symptoms are actually due to a fear of flying or whether they are physical. Anxiety symptoms such as sweating, racing heart, palpitations or hyperventilation can also be traced back to an organic cause and indicate, for example, a cardiovascular disease.

Those affected can contact a psychotherapist directly with their problem. No bank transfer is required in Germany. If there is no other psychological disorder besides the fear of flying, the fear of flying can usually be treated well. Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered particularly effective in treating anxiety disorders.

A doctor or psychotherapist must work with the person concerned to find out whether the fear is specific to flying or to some other factor. In particular, fear of heights, agoraphobia and social phobia are possible differential diagnoses.

Treatment & Therapy

How a fear of flying is to be treated depends on the course of the disease and its severity. In the case of mild symptoms, taking medication and sedatives can already bring about an improvement. However, if the phobia is deeper, only psychotherapy will alleviate the suffering. So the fear of flying must first be diagnosed as such by a psychologist.

In the further course their causes are to be found out. It differs here on what the inhibition threshold to board an aircraft is based on. In many cases, however, unconscious and negative experiences made at a young age are a hallmark of the fear of flying. Because being exposed in uncontrollable situations often shows up when locking yourself in a room, cutting back on options or even teasing friends.

The phobia of great heights also follows this pattern. Here, too, the typical fear of flying thinking is characteristic: If an accident occurs, the chance of survival is slim. Therefore, specialist advice should always be sought when recognizing the fear of flying. The fear of flying can only be cured through therapy, which often takes a few years.

Outlook & forecast

As such, the fear of flying has a good chance of being overcome with therapy. Most people who suffer from aviophobia, however, do not make use of the therapy option. This may be due to the fact that it is very easy to bypass flying completely. Accordingly, the fear of flying in people who do not receive treatment usually persists for a lifetime. In many cases this means practically no restrictions for those affected.

A comprehensive treatment of Aviophobie, mainly due to the cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy is based, has a success rate of up to 95 percent. Accordingly, the chances of recovery are to be rated as very good. Almost all therapists are therefore able to board an airplane and also to fly without fear. Participants in a seminar on fear of flying and how to counter it seem to be cured of their phobia to a small extent.

It has also been shown that major aircraft disasters always reduced the number of passengers for a certain period of time. People who suffer from aviophobia sometimes relate to individual events that they may only have experienced indirectly. Accordingly, the development of this phobia also seems to be linked to actual flight safety (higher than with any other means of transport).


Preventing the fear of flying will be part of the therapy. Tension can often be relieved and fears controlled through breathing exercises, muscle relaxation or the idea of such a flight. Autogenic training can be very effective here.

However, this prevention against the fear of flying should only be done under medical guidance. The extent to which medication is helpful against initial symptoms must also be left to the specialist. With it, however, the person concerned can get the fear of flying under control.


After the fear of flying has been successfully treated, no further complaints are usually to be expected. The disease disappears completely. So there is no justification for follow-up care. However, this does not mean that immunity arises.

Those affected can repeatedly suffer from aviophobia due to external influences. A diagnosis takes place in a detailed consultation with a doctor. Relaxation techniques and addressing the anxiety states are suitable for therapy. A psychotherapist helps in several sessions. In a large number of cases, those affected do not consult a doctor.

Alcohol, nicotine and sedatives are supposed to alleviate the symptoms, but this has been proven to not lead to lasting success. Rather, it can make the signs worse. Therapy always aims to give the patient behavioral tips. The setting before and during the flight can be controlled cognitively.

It is therefore essential to apply the knowledge gained from the initial treatment in practice. These include breathing techniques. Under no circumstances should those affected avoid airports. This seems like the wrong strategy to most doctors. Complaints solidify further and can also emerge in other situations that are perceived as threatening.

You can do that yourself

The most important basis for combating aviophobia is the expansion of knowledge. Detailed information about the functioning of aircraft, flight behavior and, above all, safety measures can help to reduce fears that arise before the start of a flight. It’s helpful to go through the flight in your head several times before it actually takes place. This makes dealing with turbulence or flight noises easier.

A seat in the aisle counteracts a feeling of tightness and loss of control. In a place directly above the wings, the movements of the aircraft are less noticeable.

During the flight, conscious relaxation plays a major role. It is advisable to avoid stress factors on the day of departure and to wear comfortable clothing. A breathing technique that can be used during the flight should be learned in advance. Affirmations are also useful, ie positively reinforcing sentences with which the focus is steered away from fear and onto a relaxed state. Movement – as far as possible – also creates a distraction.

On the other hand, it is not advisable to use alcohol or tablets to calm down, as these can have undesirable side effects and are not a long-term solution.

Fear of Flying