Prescriptions for fear of flying
Please note that any requests for medications to avert feelings of anxiety during flights will be declined by our GPs.
The reasons why benzodiazepines (BDZs) are no longer described are outlined in our Fear of flying leaflet, and are as follows:
- The use of any sort of CNS depressant during a flight could put the passenger at significant risk of not being able to act in a manner which could save their life in the event of a safety critical scenario.
- The use of any sort of CNS depressant has the potential to increase the risk of a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). These drugs can induce non-REM sleep which tends to be a type where there is less movement in sleep therefore increasing the risk of sitting without moving for more than 4 hours (the length of time which has been shown to increase the risk of developing a DVT).
- A paradoxical increase in aggression has been reported by some patients taking benzodiazepines (BDZs) and this therefore has the potential to put other occupants of the aircraft at risk.
- BDZs are contra-indicated for phobias.
- In some countries it is illegal to import these drugs and so the patient will need a different strategy for the homeward-bound journey and/or any subsequent legs of the journey.
- NICE guidelines suggest that medication should not be used for mild and/or self-limited mental health disorders. In more significant anxiety-related states, BDZs should never be prescribed. BDZs are only advised for short term use for a crisis in generalised anxiety disorder - if a patient is having a GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) crisis they are not fit to fly. Fear of flying in isolation is not GAD.
Advice for those afraid of flying
In Britain an estimated nine million people suffer anxiety about flying (aerophobia). The fitfortravel website provides information and support information about this common anxiety in their guide to Air Travel - Health Issues. The NHS Inform website includes information about coping with fears and phobias.