What is Aerophobia?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Aerophobia is a condition in which the individual experiences extreme anxiety and panic when faced with the idea of boarding an airplane or otherwise leaving the ground and being surrounded by brisk winds. As one of the most common phobias of modern society, the typical aerophobic is likely to exhibit symptoms such as regurgitation, difficulty breathing, or a severe panic attack when faced with the prospect of riding in a balloon or boarding a commercial or private plane. As with most phobias, there are some aerophobic treatments that help to minimize the discomfort and in some cases overcome the phobia altogether.

Someone afraid of riding in a hot air balloon might not necessarily be afraid of heights, as many might believe.
Someone afraid of riding in a hot air balloon might not necessarily be afraid of heights, as many might believe.

While many people assume that this particular phobia is associated with a fear of flying only, the true aerophobia definition encompasses any situation where the individual fears disconnecting with the safety of the ground and being surrounded by open winds. This would mean that the typical aerophobic would also be uncomfortable in any device that was not connected to the ground in some manner. Hot air balloon rides are likely to be just as traumatic for a person with aerophobia as the prospect of boarding a plane.

Obtaining accurate aerophobia statistics is somewhat difficult, since many people who never board an airplane may in fact have the phobia but mistake it for another issue of some type. For example, someone with an extreme fear of riding in a hot air balloon may assume they suffer from a fear of heights. Often, it requires the expertise of a trained psychologist to accurately diagnose the condition and help the patient find an appropriate form of treatment.

Triggers that lead to aerophobia often have to do with some type of trauma. The trigger may be the association of air flight that is connected with one or more negative events. Living through a flight where the plane experienced operational difficulties and had to make an emergency landing may also lead to a strong aversion to flying. In some cases, aerophobia may develop as an ancillary condition to other phobias involving a fear of heights or a fear of being confined in small places.

When it comes to aerophobia treatment, different strategies work with different people. In some cases, therapy can help patients to defuse the anxiety and panic that are unleashed at the prospect of flying. These methods, most notably a form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), or desensitization techniques, help to reprogram the responses, effectively robbing the phobia of the ability to take over the mind and create physical and emotional distress.

Medication can also help defuse the symptoms associated with the phobia. Anti-anxiety medicines may be used to curb the panic attacks and minimize the difficulty of making a flight. When utilized in conjunction with professional therapy, the chances of overcoming this debilitating condition are excellent.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Is there mild aerophobia and moderate aerophobia? My brother has a fear of flying, but since his job required frequent travel, he sorta had to get over it. He was first able to get over it by having a drink or two before boarding the plane. He is not a drinker so this amount did wonders. Eventually, he got over his, what I would call, mild aerophobia?

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