flying anxiety

<p>My youngest hates to fly. She says it gives her serious anxiety and she feels closed in and trapped. We have a very long flight ahead of us next week along with quite a number of small flights during our trip.
We have Rescue Remedy and some lavender spray. Both of those were suggested by a friend. She has requested a window seat since she prefers that. Her sibling plus parents will be along on the flight. Her therapist suggested a call to the MD but I don't want to medicate a 16 yr old.
Any suggestions. Something she could download on her IPOD that would be relaxing? Activity that would keep her mind occupied?</p>

<p>Talk to the MD. I have an adult friend who NEVER flew because of anxiety. The medication she takes BEFORE flying is very short lived in her system but makes long plane trips possible. I understand your reluctance to medicate a 16 year old, but having an anxiety attack on an airplane with no chance of getting off is....in my opinion, worse.</p>

<p>One of my friends is a plane crash survivor. She avoided airplanes for 20 years. Then she got invited to a wedding clear across the country. She went to a psychologist who hypnotized her. It worked.</p>

<p>I think you should medicate the 16-year-old once and see how it goes. It may be that the medication is enough to help her relax--and then she'll have one positive flight to look back on.</p>

<p>Think about something that makes you anxious, like spiders or snakes or what have you. Now imagine being locked in a closet with it for hours. Do you want someone to spray lavender in your face or do you want something that will actually help flip off the panic switch in your head?</p>

<p>Please talk to the MD. I deal with anxiety and being trapped in an anxious situation is a prime location for an anxiety attack. It takes days for me to recover from a anxiety/panic attack and that is not uncommon. Not only will it be absolutely miserable for her, you might never get her on another plane or at least not without a lot of cognitive behavior therapy. Think about trying to get her on the short flights and the long flight back home if the flight over is terrifying for her. That's not fair to do to someone. </p>

<p>I understand your concern but anti-anxiety medication is very short lived in the body. It will help her tremendously. Although be sure to try it out before you fly, before bed would be a good time. </p>

<p>There are programs that people can enroll in to help them cope with flight anxiety. I worked with my therapist quite a bit on it as we are a military family (ironically, my husband is a pilot) and I had to fly if I wanted to see my family. A week before the flight is simply not enough time, this should have been dealt with months ago but that's knowledge for next time. For this trip, please don't deny your child real help because of her age.</p>

<p>Benadryl or Dramamine to make her sleepy perhaps? Ask your doctor first.</p>

<p>I don't think a 16 year old should be medicated necessarily because of anxiety. There is no reason to fear flying. Yes, you are in a small area for a few hours. Nothing will happen to her though. But she should figure out something to do to cope with the fear besides looking to mind/mood altering drugs. </p>

<p>If a person is 50 and they want drugs, so be it. But not necessarily a 16 year old. Being able to control the mind is a very good skill to have. A 16 year old is still developing and maturing. Just because she has a fear of flying today doesn't mean it will never go away. Using medication to cope is equivalent to quitting trying to deal with it and not something I'd encourage.</p>

<p>Bring along a portable DVD player so she can watch movies.</p>

<p>You can arm her with statistics about the safety of flying, how flying is the only practical way to achieve the goal of expansive travel, how rough and less safe it would have been in the 'olden days' (wagons, trains, sailing ships, etc.), how little kids and little old ladies travel by air without worring about it, how many flights and people traveled by air in the previous week with no crashes, how some airports and airlines, despite having tens of thousands of flights, have never had a serious accident (it truly is amazing if you think about it), etc. but that'll unlikely relieve her anxiety. </p>

<p>If she feels claustrophobic an aisle seat can be better than a window seat since it's a bit more open but you said she already prefers a window seat. If the motion of the plane causes a problem then sometimes dramamine can help.</p>

<p>I think the best relief is distraction. She needs to do what she can to not think about it and imagine herself elsewhere. This distraction can be in the form of a book, music on her ipod, movies on a DVD player or iPhone or something, games, or sometimes even a conversation with someone else. Many long flights have music and video available on the flight. If it's a long flight a nap will fill up some of that space of time if she can manage to sleep on the plane. </p>

<p>Another help can be some exercise. Before boarding the flight, if there's time, get a workout by walking laps in the terminal. The physical exercise is a known way to reduce anxiety and it can even be a relief to sit down on the plane if one did enough laps.</p>

<p>Make sure you're understanding about her very real condition and one that produces a lot of physical and psychological effects that can't always be so easily overcome by simple logic yet can often be overcome with various approaces such as some suggested above.</p>

<p>Note also that if it's a multi-legged trip, she'll likely be handling it much better on the latter legs when it'll start to become old hat for her.</p>

<p>I fly 40 to 55 thousand miles in any given year, I've never had a bad experience and I still have a fear of flying. So I apologize for the long post, but I really felt for your daughter. </p>

<p>First, to say there is no reason to fear flying, or that she'll get used to it might be true statements, but not necessarily helpful to all of us. Some fears are rational, but others are not. Where a fear is irrational, reasoning it away doesn't not work well, at least in my experience.</p>

<p>The fact that mom60 referred to her daughter's therapist is a signal that this 16 year old does have anxiety and probably stress. I think pugmadkate might be on point.</p>

<p>Since it was your daughter's therapist who suggested you consult your daughter's MD, it would seem to be the prudent thing to do. Certainly you don't want a 16 year old to start to deal with stress by medication. But flying is such a focus of stress for people that it's hard to imagine having an anxiety attack on a long flight, and no way to deal with it. </p>

<p>Your daughter says the problem is feeling closed in. I share this to some extent and agree with ucsd_ . Window seats are okay if you stare out the window the whole time. But when the passenger in front of you reclines the seat to its max, that's a horrible feeling since you're closed in on all sides. An aisle seat is best then. But your daughter knows best about her own feelings. You might want to make sure that whoever in your party is on the aisle, is wiling to switch if that appears to be the preferred solution during the flight, just in case.</p>

<p>But for the majority of us who really suffer fear of flying, the base of the fear is loss of control. Sometimes teenagers don't always know the precise foundation of their stress. Her therapist should know the base cause of her fear, just in case it isn't really the fear of close places. If it is loss of control, there are additional ways of trying to deal with it. </p>

<p>Good luck, and I wish you the best. I hope that your whole family has a good time on your trip.</p>

<p>I started taking anxiety medications when I was 16. They didn't make me feel drugged or anything like that as long as the dosage was correct-- it was the first time in my life that I felt NORMAL. Severe anxiety is one of the most painful things to tolerate. Mine got so severe that my body could not handle any kind of excitement anymore, good or bad, without causing me to throw up. I would vomit any time I felt any kind of a strong emotion because my system was so utterly shot from anxiety. While a plane ride isn't going to do that to your D, anxiety is still very emotionally damaging and if this is a negative experience she is never going to be willing to try it again. Getting her to fly, to survive without incident-- which includes panic attacks, is what is going to get her comfortable with flying. There are some things you just can't force. I agree with pugmadkate. You should consider at least talking with the MD and seeing what they would suggest. Just talking to the MD isn't committing to anything.</p>

<p>
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I don't think a 16 year old should be medicated necessarily because of anxiety. There is no reason to fear flying. Yes, you are in a small area for a few hours. Nothing will happen to her though. But she should figure out something to do to cope with the fear besides looking to mind/mood altering drugs.

[/quote]
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<p>Telling someone who really has this level of anxiety that "there is no reason to fear it" strikes me as spectacularly unhelpful advice.</p>

<p>Talk with her doctor. There isn't any reason why your daughter should get herself worked up into a panic attack when there are medications that can ease her anxiety.</p>

<p>There is no reason to fear flying..... The poster who posted this should stop posting in this thread. Period. I am a well educated physician who has developed an unexplainable, "stupid" anxiety related to bridges. I know that there is no reason to fear driving over high/long spans over mountain passes or deep rivers etc. But my brain does not always successfully stop that pit that I feel in my stomach, the slight increase in heart rate. I know to look straight ahead and not look over the edge or down. And I can do it, even get over the Seven Mile Bridge in the Keys. And I hate that I get the reaction that I do. But it happens. It does not happen in the OR when I am dealing with a life or death situation. And I can fly reasonable well, even over water. But get my on a bridge.....</p>

<p>Fear of flying is real, whether it is reasonable to fear flying or not. Anxiety related to flying is real. </p>

<p>Talk to the doctor. OTC dramamine and benadryl are antihistamines that can relieve nasuea or allergies, but can make one mildly drowsy for sleeping on a flight. The lowest dose of an anxiolytic agent (anti-anxiety) that is short acting would simply calm a 16 yo and could be beneficial. It is not just "medicating" someone for a flight, it reduces the associated anxiety, calms the fears, and had increase the likelihood of flying more successfully and with less anxiety in the future.</p>

<p>my daughter has been on low dose medication for anxiety since she was in grade school-
for situational anxiety, I think medical support including medication is warranted.</p>

<p>My daughters dr has given her things like beta blockers for specific anxiety prone situations.</p>

<p>Personally I used to be ok with flying, but it got worse & next time I am going to make sure that I am heavily sedated by the time I get on the plane- or at least once I am airborne- an option that isn't open to those under 21!</p>

<p>In addition to what other people are saying I want to point out that she will be drugged either way; an anxiety reaction causes massive releases of various neurotransmitters, adrenaline and stress hormones... it's really bad for someone who experiences them in an uncontrolled way... which it sounds like she might be since she is already in therapy.</p>

<p>Also some of the medications don't actually mess with you head. The beta blocker the emeral is mentioning works great for me (better than all others ive tried actually). And most of beta blockers don't cross the blood brain barrier... All it does is it blocks adrenaline and slows down the heart so one doesnt get the heart pounding freaked out feeling. It's also a pretty safe medication (popular blood pressure med).</p>

<p>A fear of anything is very real to the person experiencing it. The person knows that the fear is ridiculous, but their mind and body still go into overdrive/panic. </p>

<p>The doctor might prescribe something like a low dose of xanax to take the night before and the day of the trip. Definitely talk with the doctor.</p>

<p>See the doctor. Get professional advice. I wish you all the best.</p>

<p>I personally hate to fly. I also don't think it is irrational in that it is unpleasant (strip your clothes, empty your carry on, get dressed after being screened and perhaps wanded or randomly subject to search), and that is even before you get on the plane. Then you are cramped, and can be subject to a host of unpleasantness including hours of delay, difficult passengers and even difficult flight attendants. What's to like about it? That said, when I travel on airplanes (which I ususally do several times a year). I really try to keep reminding myself that I can do nothing to make it better, and that I must just go with the flow. If I am confronted with something troubling to me I take a deep breath, and reflect before reacting. I don't like to take pills, so I just keep repeating to myself that I must keep calm etc. I usually can relax once the plane takes off.</p>

<p>Lots of great things to think about and to take into consideration.
We have been accused of not understanding how crippled her anxiety makes her feel. I just spoke with her to ask her a few questions. She is not afraid of the plane crashing. She knows flying is as safe as most other modes of transportation. What she feels is claustrophobic. She feels like she can't breath and feels faint. She just doesn't have faith that the breathing exercises she has worked on in therapy will work.She said she feels the same way in the movie theatre. She likes the window since she can try to just look out or at the wall and tune out everyone around her. She has flown plenty of times but the anxiety is getting worse. On her last trip she got lucky on the outbound to fly first class plus it was a night flight. She has some migraine meds that make her drowsy and she took that so she slept. The return flight was during the day and she was stuck in coach in the middle seat for both flights.
I left a message for the dr and I will see what advice she has. I am one of those people who avoids most medication and I have a hard time letting my kids take meds. We also have had family members with addictions so it also makes me shy away from giving my kids any pain or anxiety meds. I know that is an irrational fear.</p>

<p>
[quote]
If a person is 50 and they want drugs, so be it. But not necessarily a 16 year old. Being able to control the mind is a very good skill to have.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Likewise, if you develop diabetes, you should just be able to control the mind and produce insulin. </p>

<p>/ sarcasm</p>

<p>We are talking about a 12 hour flight followed by an 8 hour flight on the 2nd day. Plus some small plane flying on the actual trip. Return trip is 8 hours and another 12-13 with no overnight layover. I don't mind flying and even I am dreading the flights.</p>