Fear of Flying

Fear of flying is type of phobia called aerophobia abd it is believed 1 in 10 people suffer from this. As a type of phobia there are some recognised and evidence based ways of treating this outlined in the link below:


Requests for medication for Fear of Flying (Diazepam)

We have concerns around using diazepam in patients who are nervous about flying.

Diazepam is a controlled sedative drug, opinion on whether it can be prescribed for fear of flying is divided due to safety issues.

These are:

  1. Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you sleepy, more relaxed and can significantly delay your reaction times. If there is an emergency during the flight it may impair your ability to concentrate, follow instructions and react to the situation. This could have serious safety consequences for you and those around you.
  2. Sedative drugs can make you fall asleep, however when you do sleep it is an unnatural (non-REM) sleep. This means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This can cause you to be at increased risk of developing a blood clot (DVT) in the leg or even the lung. Blood clots are very dangerous and can even prove fatal. This risk is even greater if your flight is longer than four hours.
  3. Whilst most people find sedative medications like diazepam have a relaxing effect, a small number of people can actually feel more agitated or even aggressive after taking it. Diazepam can also cause disinhibition and lead you to behave in a way that you would not normally. This could impact on your safety as well as that of other passengers and could also get you into trouble with the law.
  4. According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow, (known as the BNF), benzodiazepines like diazepam are not recommended for use in phobias. As a doctor, we would be taking a significant legal risk by prescribing against these guidelines. They are only licensed for short term use during a crisis in generalised anxiety. If this is the case, you should be getting proper care and support for your mental health and not going on a flight.
  5. Diazepam and similar drugs are illegal in a number of countries. They may be confiscated or you may find yourself in trouble with the police if you are carrying any on arrival.
  6. Diazepam stays in your system for quite a while. If your job requires you to submit to random drug testing you may fail this having taken diazepam.

We appreciate that fear of flying is very real and very frightening. A much better approach is to tackle this properly with a Fear of Flying course run by the airlines and we have listed a number of these below:

Good advice and techniques can be found here: