Computer-assisted treatments help patients conquer their phobias.

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For years, Louisvillian Marie Coma, 35, was so anxious about flying that she wouldn’t get on a plane without taking a Valium.

“My chest would tighten, my breath would shorten, I would feel anxiousness in my gut, my hands would clench, I would grip the seat, I would feel my muscles tense,” Coma said. “Taking Valium would help that. It would just make it a little more bearable.”

But about five years ago, she decided to try flying without the medication. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to be a slave to this. I’m not going to need a pill before I do anything.’ ”

She focused on her breathing and the very low probability of a plane crash. “I think about how it’s so much more dangerous to drive a car,” she said. “If you’re going to live in the world and participate, you have to take risks.”

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