SEX may be the best way to cure a fear of flying

from Tourexpi, Sept 15, 2015

Sex may the best way for an anxious passenger to conquer their fear of flying, says a pilot-turned-therapist. But it has nothing to do with joining the mile high club, as Tom Bunn insists he has had clients who have forgotten about their anxiety after having sex the night before a flight.

Mr Bunn, a former US Air Force and commercial pilot who now counsels terrified air travelers, said a new study on chronic and post-traumatic stress may support the theory that sex can lower a person’s stress levels before setting foot on board. Mr Bunn, a licensed therapist who founded SOAR in 1982, said sex helped a male client who struggled with a fear of flying for seven years.

He told Yahoo Travel: ‘Every time he flew he was totally miserable, except for one time when, before he came back from a business trip, he hooked up with someone. ‘He said they didn’t get any sleep. They made love all night long and he dragged himself out of bed onto the aeroplane and had a perfectly anxiety-free flight.’

To back up his anecdotal evidence, Mr Bunn has pointed to a new study by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, who explored why trauma victims are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress if they have previously suffered chronic stress. The study was based on animals and has nothing to do with sex or an anxiety caused by flying. It found that animals that underwent chronic stress prior to a traumatic experience are more likely to consolidate traumatic memories, which can trigger anxiety. But the researchers found that blocking that type of memory formation may offer a new way to prevent post-traumatic stress.

Mr Bunn told Yahoo Travel the study suggests that passengers who have chronic stress in their lives are more vulnerable to develop a fear of flying based on post-traumatic stress when something such as turbulence occurs. Published in Science Daily, the MIT study found that it may be possible to prevent traumatic memories from consolidating or weaken them after they have formed with drugs that interfere with serotonin, which accelerates memory consolidation in the brain. Mr Bunn told Yahoo Travel that sex can help people who are anxious travellers as it causes a spike in their levels of oxytocin, a hormone which acts as a neurotransmitter.

In 2012, a study by researchers at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, found that oxytocin bombards the amygdala, an almond-sized part of the brain that governs fear, Live Science reported. While it may help some fearful flyers, Mr Bunn said he knows that sex won’t help all travelers cope with their anxiety. In his counseling sessions, he tries to help his clients develop a mental link between flying and a memory that produces oxytocin.