Fear of Flying Policy
Prescribing of diazepam or other hypnotics for fear of flying will not be provided on NHS prescriptions unless in exceptional circumstances.
This is because of lack of evidence for the use of these medicines and the risk of adverse effects, as outlined below.
The following websites provide information to help with a fear of flying:
- Fear of flying is common despite flying being safer than road or rail travel in most developed countries.
- Try distraction by talking with other passengers, watching a film, listening to music or reading.
- Tell the cabin crew. Reassurance about routine aircraft sounds and in flight activities can help.
- Research shows that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be helpful for more severe cases. The person identifies what they actually fear and then learns different ways of overcoming it.
A number of airlines run courses aimed at alleviating travellers fears, such as:
- NICE: Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) are associated with a less good outcome in the long term and should not be prescribed for the treatment of individuals with panic disorder.
- Sedative-hypnotics (e.g. diazepam) should not be combined with alcohol (which is commonly consumed by nervous flyers) because there is a risk of excessive sedation and respiratory suppression.
- Sedative-hypnotics (e.g. diazepam) should not be taken by individuals who may be called upon to make important decisions (e.g. parents responsible for the care of young children or in case of an inflight emergency) because they can cause excess sedation and impair decision-making.
- Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam) may cause drowsiness, impair concentration and impair decision making which may impair a person’s ability to drive when they reach their destination.
- The risk of adverse effects is increased in older adults, especially those who are older than 75 years.
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