Benzodiazepines for Fear of Flying

Benzodiazepines have been used since the 1960s to treat various conditions, including anxiety, epilepsy, and sleep disturbances. While initially hailed as wonder drugs, it became evident that they pose risks such as addiction, memory impairment, and long-term cognitive effects.

Despite their sedative effects, prescribing benzodiazepines like diazepam for flight anxiety is not recommended for several reasons:

Not Clinically Recommended: According to prescribing guidelines, benzodiazepines are contraindicated for treating phobic states, including fear of flying. They are only licensed for short-term use in crisis situations of generalised anxiety disorder.

Safety Concerns: Benzodiazepines can impair awareness and reaction times, which could be critical during emergencies. Sedative effects may also increase the risk of developing blood clots during long flights.

Behavioral Changes: In some cases, benzodiazepines can cause paradoxical agitation, aggression, or disinhibition, leading to unpredictable behavior.

Legal and Travel Implications: Benzodiazepines are controlled substances in many countries, and their possession without a prescription can lead to legal trouble. Additionally, they may interfere with job-related drug testing and void travel insurance coverage if not disclosed.

Considering these risks, we no longer prescribe benzodiazepines for flight anxiety. Instead, we recommend aviation industry-approved flight anxiety courses. Patients seeking benzodiazepine prescriptions for flight anxiety are advised to consult private healthcare providers.

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