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Fear of Flying 

Downend Health Group recognise that the fear of flying is real and frightening, and we understand the impact it can have on some people.


Our GP’s and Nurses are often asked to prescribe Diazepam, or similar drugs like Lorazepam Temazepam or Clonazepam, for patients who have a fear of flying, or who need to sleep during flights. However, prescribing these drugs for such situations is no longer recommended, instead, we recommend tackling this properly by using self-help resources or considering one of the ‘Fear of Flying’ course run by many airlines.

There are many reasons as to why it is not considered safe practice to prescribe drugs for these situations. We have listed them below so you can understand the rationale behind this.


  • Although plane emergencies are rare, taking Diazepam reduces awareness and reaction times for patients, so you risk not being able to react to save your life if you have to escape quickly. You may also put other lives in danger by getting in their way or relying on help.

  • The use of these drugs can put you in an unnaturally, deep sleep. This means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep, so you have a higher risk of developing a blood clot (Deep Vein Thrombosis – DVT) in the leg or lungs. Blood clots are very dangerous and can kill. This risk increases if your flight is longer than 4 hours.

  • These drugs can have short term, negative effects on memory, co-ordination, concentration, and reaction times. They can be addictive if used for a long time, with withdrawal leading to fits, hallucinations, agitation, and confusion. Diazepam in the UK is a controlled drug and Doctors are obligated to follow strict prescribing guidelines which state they should not be used to treat short-term ‘mild’ anxiety. Fear of flying in isolation is not classed as a generalised anxiety disorder.

  • Some people get agitated and aggressive after taking Diazepam or similar drugs and behave in a way that they would not normally. This can pose a risk on the plane, which may affect everyone’s safety and mean you are in breach of the law.

  • There is evidence that using these drugs may increase anxiety in the long term, especially if used repeatedly.

  • Diazepam and similar controlled drugs are illegal in certain countries.

  • Diazepam can stay in your system for some time. Taking Diazepam may lead to failing drug tests. This is important to note if your job or sport requires you to have random drug testing. It may also have implications for driving; Diazepam is a drug that is subject to drug-driving regulations in a number of countries including the UK.

  • It is important to tell your travel insurer about your medical conditions and any medications you take. If you do not disclose this information, you may invalidate your insurance policy.


Further information may be found in the links below:

NHS Informs                            Phobias | NHS inform 

Easy Jet                                    Fear of flying course | Fearless Flyer (

British Airways                        Flying with Confidence | Special assistance | British Airways


Virgin Atlantic                         How to cope with a fear of flying | Virgin

The practice is not affiliated with and does not endorse any particular company. The links to external websites are for patient information purposes only.

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