Advice and immunisation may be necessary if you are travelling outside Northern Europe or North America. Enquire at reception at least nine weeks before you travel.
Non-urgent advice: Our practice policy on sedative prescribing for fear of flying
Prescribing sedative medication such as Diazepam (benzodiazepine) which in the UK is a Class C/Schedule IV controlled drug for fear of flying is not recommended for the following reasons;
· Although plane emergencies are rare, taking a benzodiazepine can reduce awareness and reaction times which means patients could pose a significant risk to themselves and others due to not being able to react in a manner which could save their life in the event of an emergency on board.
· Sedative drugs can make you fall asleep, however when you do sleep it is an unnatural non-REM sleep. This means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This can cause you to be at increased risk of developing a blood clot (DVT) in the leg or even the lung. This risk is even greater if your flight is greater than four hours.
· According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow (British National Formulary) diazepam is contraindicated (not allowed) for treating phobias (fears). It also states that “the use of benzodiazepines to treat short-term ‘mild’ anxiety is inappropriate.” Your doctor would be taking a significant legal risk by prescribing against these guidelines. They are licensed short term for a crisis in generalised anxiety. If you are having such a crisis, you are not likely to be fit to fly. Fear of flying in isolation is not a generalised anxiety disorder.
· Some people get agitated and aggressive after taking diazepam and similar drugs, and behave in a way that they would not normally, which can pose a risk on the plane. This affects everyone’s safety and could get you into trouble with the law.
· Diazepam and similar controlled drugs are illegal in several countries. They may be confiscated, or you may find yourself in trouble with the police.
· Diazepam stays in your system for some time. If your job or sport needs you to have random drug testing you may fail this having taken diazepam.
· It is important to tell your travel insurer about your medical conditions and medications you take. If not, there is a risk of your insurer not paying if you try to make a claim.
Given the above reasons Northgate Surgery does NOT prescribe sedatives for fear of flying. This policy decision has been made by the GP Partners and is adhered to by all prescribers working in the GP Surgery. Instead, please try one of these aviation industry recommended flight anxiety courses.
Easy Jet – www.fearlessflyer.easyjet.com
British Airways – https://flyingwithconfidence.com/
Patients who still wish to take benzodiazepines for flight anxiety are advised to consult with a private GP or travel clinic.