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Dr. Darlene DeStefano, PhD

     

Afraid the Plane will Crash

Posted 5/14/2016

Dear Darlene

I have an extreme anxiety problem about going on a plane for our upcoming vacation. Last time almost seven months ago we, my husband, two children and myself were booked for a vacation. We were at the airport in the waiting lounge for the plane to arrive. The kids were so excited and I was getting more and more anxious by the second. The plane finally arrived and boarding began. As we neared the entrance to the plane I became extremely distraught to the point I could not put my foot onto the plane. I shook, 

turned away, and just could not bring myself to go. Needless to say my children were very upset and my husband was more than a little upset with me and the loss of thousands of dollars because of my anxiety. That was then, and now I have agreed to try it again. We bought the tickets and our kids are all excited again. I had a few counselling sessions and thought I could do this but that old anxiety is creeping in again and as we get nearer the date I am getting more anxious again. My biggest fear is that the plane will crash and we will all be dead. I feel totally sick inside and find I am starting to become anxious about other things now which never affected me before. I am a bundle of nerves. My doctor want to put me on anti-depressants, but I am unsure. Is there another way I can get help?

Signed, Terrified Anxiety

 

Dear Terrified, 

Yes, in my opinion anti-depressants are a last resort. Try everything else first. In addressing your thought processes you will find you can decrease or even eliminate your anxiety over flying. Begin to prepare yourself for the plane. 

Know that flying is safe. You’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than on the plane. Statistics show you are 500-1000 times more likely to die in a car crash. You may say that you are in control of the car and not the plane so it is different. Think again. You are not in control of the other cars on the road and can easily be in that accident caused by another driver. It’s very likely that the thousands of people who die each year in a car accident is not because they had control over the situation. Therefore your chances of getting to your destination on a plane are pretty good.

Know what to expect by familiarizing yourself with the sights and sounds of flying. Understand the bumps, movements and turbulence of a plane. Talk to friends who have flown and who love to travel, and how they deal with this. Flyingwithoutfear.com is a great website loaded with content about flying. You can even listen to the sounds of every aspect of flying. 

For me, when it gets a little bumpy, I just pretend I am on a bus. Close your eyes and visualize you’re on a bus. Turbulence resembles a bumpy road. 

Once on the plane I open the cool air valve above my head and point it at my face. Breathing the fresh cool air really helps to calm the nerves and reduce sweating. Have a drink or two on the plane. However, remember 1-2 is good enough to calm the nerves. Drinking alcohol in the air hits you much faster so caution in this department.

If there is simply no way to get around your fears, and thoughts of canceling your flight flash in your head, go see your doctor. Explain your fear and ask for a light sedative such as Xanax.

These pills come in .25 .5, and 1 mg doses. Depending on your size, you and your doctor will decide what dosage is best for you. Since you very likely have not taken this medication before probably .25 will work fine to ease your anxiety. After all you don’t want to be knocked out. Be careful not to take it too early before boarding or it could put you to sleep and you could miss your plane.

If you give into your fear of flying you will miss out on experiencing what the world has to offer, the culture, food, smells, ocean, sun and sand, architecture, ancient ruins, and so on. Work at your desire to explore the world. It will overpower your fear of rising above the clouds. The confidence and sense of accomplishment you gain by visiting a distant land is especially gratifying when you arrive by conquering your fears. You will realize you had nothing to fear after all and may even become an avid traveller.

Furthermore, when you conquer your fear, you demonstrate to your children that they too can overcome their fears.

Live Well,

Darlene DeStefano, PhD, CPC, MMsc
Intuitive Counsellor
Life and Business Coach
Passionate Crusader for Meaningful Living & Health Relationships
Catalyst for Living Well

 

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