Flying Anxiety – Fear or Phobia?

How do you know if your anxiety concerning flying is a general fear or a specific phobia?

This time of year I see an increase in clients who experience anxiety whilst flying. For some people this anxiety is so severe that even the thought of going on a plane will set off a stress response. Sleepless nights, nausea, difficulty relaxing are just some of the symptoms that can develop. So how do you know if your anxiety concerning flying is a general fear or a specific phobia, what is the difference and why do you need to know?

A general fear develops when anxiety levels build up and you don’t take any action to dissipate your stress or anxiety, but continue thinking or behaving in a way which is creating the anxiety. Anxiety comes from negatively forecasting the future. If a person is worrying and imagining negative future outcomes, the primitive part of their brain, the part responsible for protection and survival, will interpret this as some sort of danger, emergency or crisis.

As anxiety develops and the negative thought patterns continue, the threat level in the primitive brain increases and the brain takes action to stop you from doing anything which it believes will cause anxiety. It will prevent you from stepping outside of your comfort zone. If nothing is done, a person will gradually avoid more and more situations and do less and less. This can start off with one small fear and at the extreme can result in the sufferer not wanting to leave home in case they are confronted with those things which cause fear.

A specific phobia differs in that it is almost always formed due to an incident or a moment of extreme fear, causing a faulty template to form in the primitive brain. If you can remember a specific time when you had a bad experience of flying which frightened you, your fear is probably a specific phobia. If you can’t remember an incident then it is more likely to be a general fear due to a build up of anxiety and you telling yourself that you’re going to be scared of flying.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Depending on whether you’re experiencing a general level of anxiety or your fear is an isolated issue (i.e. a specific phobia) it will be helped by different techniques. If we’re dealing with a specific phobia we can remove the unhelpful template in just four sessions using Rewind, a powerful NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) technique enhanced with hypnosis. If you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety generally then we would work to reduce your anxiety first. Either way, hypnotherapy helps you to relax and access a calm, focused state of mind so that you can control the fear.

If you would like to know more about hypnotherapy and how it can help with fear of flying, or any other fear or phobia, please call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form.