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Dear dr

My name is Anthony Gross. I am 26. I don't know if it is hereditary, a chemical in the brain, or what, but for a long long time I have had a fear of planes and fast amusement park rides. Basically going on a roller coasters, you will feel the “speed “ of the coaster and some people love it and scream , I will feel the speed and I will feel how fast it is going in my head and I will freak out. Same deal with planes. Upon takeoff as the plan goes up, I feel the climb I feel it in my head and I will rush to grab hold bc it just feels terrible and the fear piles on. But all my brothers and sisters ( one of triplets) are fine with rides and planes. What could this be? Something medicine can help?

ask dr-robert


Yes, A small amount of Valium or Xanax taken about a hour before flight time can work wonders. However, these medicines can be habit forming, so should be used only occasionally when needed.

Be well.

ask dr-robert

Thank you doctor. So its just something I need a valium or Xanax for?? I did further research and I thought it could be something Tachophobia a fear of speed?


ask dr-robert


Yes, Tachyphobia (sometimes called tachophobia) is as good a name as any for what you are suffering. But "tachyphobia," is just a fancy way of saying "fear of speed." (That word, tachyphobia, was created from two ancient Greek words, "takhus," [takhus] meaning "swift," and "phobos," [phobos] meaning "fear.")

But simply calling what you are suffering "speed fear" doesn't explain anything, does it? A fancy name does nothing to explain why, as you asked, you have this fear while your siblings do not, or why some people "scream and love it," while you feel the speed in your head in a bad way, and "freak out." The fancy name doesn't say anything much about your feelings about all this either.

To put this another way, the human soul is complex in ways which a name, in any language, or even thousands of words, could never convey.

If you and I were speaking of this in psychotherapy, I would probably ask what you mean when you say "freak out." What is freaking out like for you. What happens when you freak out? I might ask what kind of feeling you get in your head from speed, what is that feeling like? Do you feel it elsewhere in your body?--questions like that. But we aren't doing therapy. My initial reply was aimed at responding to your asking me if some medicine could help. That is why I suggested xanax or valium. Those benzodiazepine drugs can help with fear of flying, and are often used that way.

In cases like yours, psychotherapy sometimes can help, and even sometimes completely heal the problem, but that kind of therapy usually requires many meetings and lots of work. I assumed that you were not asking about long term therapy, but only how to deal with the symptoms of your phobia. Since your problem is not one of general anxiety which would require daily medication, but a problem that troubles you only when you must fly, medication seems a pretty good treatment. You would only be taking it occasionally so dependence would not be a problem, and the side effects from very occasional use would be negligible unless you were somehow particularly allergic. A medical doctor would probably prescribe the proper dose of xanax if you explained that you need it only for occasional use.

By the way, this is a good time to point out that I here on this website I am not prescribing, nor am I advocating, any medicine or any particular kind of treatment. My work here is not psychotherapy, nor is it a substitute for a visit to a medical doctor, or a psychologist. If you need personal help, look for it in a one-to-one relationship with a professional. Here I reply to questions about psychotherapy, psychology, human relationships, emotional healing, human potential, and philosophical awareness. If I think I can help, I will take a shot at it, but email is not the best way to conduct an interview, so I may miss the mark in ways that I would not if you were sitting in my office.

Be well.

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