FEAR OF FLYING
Patients come to us, asking us to prescribe diazepam for fear of flying. Recently there have been new concerns about prescribing sedative medication for ‘fear of flying’. Because of the concerns detailed below, we have taken the decision to no longer prescribe sedative medication for flying.
1) Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you sleepy and more relaxed. 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) Use of sedative drugs increases the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). They can induce a non-REM sleep which means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This risk is even greater if your flight is greater than 4 hours.
3) Whilst most people find benzodiazepines sedating, they can cause aggression particularly if taken with alcohol. They can lead you to behave in a way that you would not normally and therefore has the potential to put others at risk.
4) According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow (BNF) Benzodiazepines are contraindicated (not allowed) in treating phobia such as ‘fear of flying’.
5) In some countries importing these types of drugs into the country is illegal.
We recommend patients who have fear of flying to research going on fear of flying courses. These are run by several major airlines and sometimes by local airports. We are unfortunately unable to recommend any specific courses.