What should I do if I have a panic attack on a plane?

Updated 2 years ago on April 08, 2023

Panic attack during air travel is provoked in anxious individuals by mental agitation, neuropsychiatric tension, aerophagia, and other phobias. An attack is caused by pressure fluctuations, hypoxia, and blood clotting due to dehydration. Experiencing panic and fear when people are looking at you is hard and unpleasant. But PA is not a reason to give up the benefits of civilization. If you know how to behave, you can not be afraid and safely fly on a plane (and not even once a year).

Preparing to fly

If you are afraid of flying:

  1. Try to understand that fear is a normal body reaction, resulting in the release of a small dose of adrenaline.
  2. Study, in general terms, how the flight takes place, the characteristics of the plane on which you will have to fly. You will see that the airplane is the safest mode of transportation. It has four braking systems, at least 2 engines, three landing gear exhaust systems that duplicate each other. Engine failure occurs once every 220 years.
  3. One or two weeks before the flight, take sedatives such as valerian, corvalol, melissa, which reduce the reflex excitability, have an anti-stress, anti-depressant effect.
  4. Never drink alcohol before a flight or on an airplane. Alcohol will make you feel better at first, but it will worsen the situation later.
  5. Prepare "rescue" remedies - sedatives, antidepressants prescribed by your doctor, or regular motion sickness pills. Electronic toys, books, and music can distract from panic attacks.

Stay awake the night before your flight to help you relax more quickly. But don't take sleeping pills before takeoff to control the situation and your condition.

Wear comfortable clothes for the flight - natural fabrics, layering, loose fit are welcome. In such a suit is not afraid of stuffiness, unstable temperature, which can provoke an attack.

What should I do if I have a panic attack on a plane?

Signs of panic attacks are similar to the symptoms of IHD - nausea, dizziness, pressure spike. During an attack, your heart rate gradually increases and anxiety builds up. You want to run somewhere, cram under a chair, scream. Your hands begin to unbuckle / fasten the belt, turn on the fan. Do not make any sudden movements:

  1. Sit down and try to relax - abstract away from the sounds, the jolts of the airliner. Make it clear that you trust yourself completely to the crew for the next hour or few hours.
  2. If fear begins to manifest itself with a rapid heartbeat, try to eat something - even a simple candy bar will do. If you realize that this is not an attack, but a heart attack, call the stewardess immediately.
  3. Take the shivers away with breathing exercises - take a few deep breaths, alternating with holding your breath.
  4. Breathe into a paper bag to stabilize the oxygen and carbon dioxide content of the blood. Use the abdominal breathing technique; breathe in with your belly, pause for 5 seconds after the exhalation. Or breathe in through your nose, stretch the exhalation for a count of 7. Pause for 5 seconds and repeat the inhale-exhale again until you feel slightly dizzy. Such methods distract from the panic state and help to calm down.
  5. Tense the muscles, let's say your toes, then relax them. Get into a comfortable position.
  6. Drink small sips of water.
  7. Switch your attention to a game, music, a book, to distract yourself from unpleasant feelings, drink a sedative.

After 15-20 minutes, the symptoms will disappear and your flight will be normal. If you cannot cope with a panic attack on your own, call a flight attendant for assistance.

If you are prone to panic attacks on the ground and in the sky, you need to deal with the cause of this phenomenon.

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