Are you suffering from driving anxiety? Wanna defeat it? Overcome this Phobia and Drive Peacefully
This lock down kept you away from traveling for a long period. The busy roads became empty for a long time. But now it is becoming normal. Now we can see the crowdedness on the streets as in the days before the pandemic. Taking the steering wheel back to your hands after a long period may have created a lack of driving confidence in you. You may be worried and nervous about getting back on the road. If you also have these kinds of fears, you may also be someone suffering from driving anxiety.
Have you ever heard about driving anxiety?
We assume that you have!
And maybe you are also someone who is suffering from it. Sometimes that may be the reason that brought you here.
What do you know about this?
Is this a disease or something else?
You may have many questions regarding this topic.
Do not worry!
Here you will find out everything that you need to know about this topic. So without having further talks, let us jump into the subject.
There are various fears and phobias in our lives, and driving phobia is also one of them. It is also known as amaxophobia, ochlophobia, motorphobia, or vehophobia. Amaxophobia is the fear of experiencing car traffic. The fear of driving varies from one another. Those fears come in specific driving situations like expressway driving or dense driving traffic.
What is driving anxiety?
First, we would like to explain to you what is driving anxiety. Simply, driving anxiety can be defined as the fear of driving or riding in a vehicle. That is a psychological issue, and that is also a kind of disease. Presently, the number of people suffering from stress or depression has increased due to the competition among one another and the workload. During this pandemic period, that amount has grown more and more. Driving anxiety is also wholly or partially a result of this competition. Increasing the rate of people suffering from this may be a result of road traffic and road accidents. It seems logical as many car accidents can be seen nowadays because of the carelessness of people. Reasons for this driving anxiety can vary from person to person, and also that fear can occur in different ways.
According to Paul Greene(PhD), a psychologist, driving phobia is fear-based efforts to avoid driving. Some people fear to go as a passenger in a car. Some other people fear driving in specific situations such as driving through a tunnel, driving over a bridge, at night, at high speed, or changing lanes. Brian Wind, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist says, people are afraid to drive because they fear something negative will happen. If this condition is left untreated, this fear can affect your daily routine and contribute to other long-term health conditions.
This driving-related anxiety seems like a unique and isolating situation. Many people around the world experience some level of stress, discomfort, tension when driving.
Why are people afraid to drive?
This fear of driving can happen due to various reasons. One of the most common reasons is the fear of having a panic accident while driving. There are many people who are suffering from this problem. They are scared of being behind the wheel. Some people have drivers’ licenses, but they choose not to drive.
As we emphasized earlier, the most common reason behind this problem is traffic accidents. Beck and Coffey reported that out of the people involved in traffic accidents with injuries, 25-33% are suffering from this problem. Some patients are afraid in specific situations, such as near a large vehicle.
Some others get afraid even when thinking about traveling in a car or any other vehicle.
Following are some other causes of driving anxiety
- Being lost
- Traveling through heavy traffic
- Past experience of a traffic accident
- Watching a severe bad accident on television
- Lack of trust in your driving skill
- Having someone you know experienced an accident.
Some drivers and passengers who never experienced a severe traffic accident also show symptoms of this phobia.
What are the phobias that are associated with the fear of driving?
This is defined as the fear of being trapped. Agoraphobia guides to avoid situations that feel threatening. For people with agoraphobia, it is challenging to pass bridges, tunnels, long deserted stretches of roadways.
Fear of driving is something related to claustrophobia. Some people with claustrophobia say that their fear is worse as passengers. Others are afraid of being the driver.
Fear of accidents
People who have dystychiphobia try to avoid situations that increase the risk of physical danger.
Fear of travel
Fear of travel, hodophobia, encompasses fears of all forms of transportations. Many people with this phobia can travel to familiar locations, but they are scared to explore new destinations.
Fear of authority
Nervousness around authority figures is natural. People with this phobia are afraid when driving around police cars, ambulances, or fire trucks.
Simple driving phobia
Many people experience a simple driving phobia. Different factors may cause this simple driving phobia.
Bad experience – If you face a car accident, most probably you have a risk of developing a fear of driving. Witnessing a bad crash in person or on television is also enough to trigger this fear.
Family or friends – How your friends and family treat driving also influences how you feel about it. Some people develop a fear after watching various films also.
There is no apparent reason for some driving phobias. After years of successful driving, some people suddenly develop fear without reason. This anxiety makes driving more stressful and complex, as well as physical discomfort from muscle tension. If this condition is left without treating properly, you will experience muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, changes in heart rate, stress, and many other difficulties.
Symptoms of driving anxiety
Signs of driving anxiety can range from slow-building anxiety while driving on the freeway to a panic attack when sitting behind a riding car.
Symptoms of a panic attack
- Excessive sweating
- Chest pain and tightness
- Feeling shaky
- Trouble in breathing or shortness of breath.
- Stomach discomfort
- Fear of dying
- Feeling very hot
- Feeling disconnected from the body
- Fear of losing control
Signs of driving anxiety
- Feeling restless
- Feeling tired easily during or after a trip in the car
- Trouble in concentrating while behind the wheel.
- Being irritable and short with others
- Feeling tension
Outlook of people with a fear of driving
Behavioral treatment can help you to manage a driving phobia. Typically, these are either physical sensations or driving scenarios experienced when driving. Driving phobia limits your daily activities. Living with a specific phobia increases your risk of developing some health conditions such as heart diseases, respiratory diseases, vascular diseases, etc.
To manage this phobia, researchers suggest that therapy is a better way.
What can you do about this fear of driving?
Like other phobias, driving phobia also requires treatment from a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrist trained in this area. It would be best if you got treatments from a mental health provider to develop a treatment plan. That should include medication, psychotherapy, or support groups.
You should mainly seek a consultation with a mental health provider who should have experience in treating phobias and anxiety. If you have a panic attack when driving, you should find a provider who has experience in treating panic disorders.
A therapist will recommend various treatment options for driving phobias. Psychotherapy is the first line of defense for severe driving anxiety. Medication, support groups are other treatments. This anxiety can be treated with a combination of these three. To treat this problem, one of the most effective ways is Exposure therapy. It trains people to get more comfortable with driving and become more confident.
In 2018 a study found that virtual reality exposure therapy can decrease anxiety. Researchers concluded this virtual reality exposure therapy could manage driving phobias successfully. Other modalities such as psychoeducational therapy and individual therapy can also help to manage your driving phobia. Sometimes your therapist may recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps you to identify distorted thinking and its role. During these CBT sessions, you will learn new ways to cope with driving anxiety. The overall goal is to make you feel safe driving or as a passenger in a car.
Ways to cope with feelings of anxiety in driving
Following tips will help you to cope with feelings of anxiety in driving.
Here’s the deal:
Better understand your anxiety
Knowing the root causes of the anxiety associated with your driving anxiety can help you develop appropriate coping skills to minimize the symptoms. It is better if you took some time to retrace the experiences with driving anxiety by investigating when it began. Memorize when it worsened and what places, people, things are involved in the process.
Set realistic goals for yourself
You should be intentional with the goals you hope to achieve and how you hope to reach them during this process. It is better if you consider the long-term and short-term consequences of your action.
You can follow relaxation techniques that are used to reduce anxiety in driving.
- Deep breathing
- Mindful meditations
- Autogenic training
- Progressive muscle relaxation
Talk to a therapist
For some people, driving anxiety problems can resolve on their own. Others need the guidance and knowledge of mental health professionals. Mental health therapists can assess your symptoms and advise on a course of treatment that you should follow which is suitable to your needs.
Start small with exposure.
To reduce driving anxiety, think about the aspects of driving that trigger anxiety.
- When does the anxiety start?
- What makes the anxiety peak?
- What does anxiety feel like?
- When do the anxiety symptoms decrease?
The most effective treatment options for driving anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, and systematic desensitization. The good news is that 80% of the people with driving anxiety find success with psychotherapy treatments. Similarly, on the other hand, people with untreated anxiety conditions will develop a chronic mental health issue.
Do you have panic attacks while driving?
Brief periods of extreme fear or panic attacks can happen when you are driving.
Do not think so much!
Panic attacks are treatable!
You can follow steps to get rid of these panic attacks. Panic attacks and panic disorders belong to the category of anxiety disorders. Of course, panic attacks can often involve primarily physical symptoms. They might make you feel separate from yourself or the world around you.
Anxiety develops more slowly and involves emotional symptoms such as worrying, nervousness, or general distress.
Driving anxiety is a normal type of phobia. Therefore, you should not get afraid about this. Take the correct steps to get rid of this problem. You will get rid of this phobia by following the proper advice of your psychiatrist. In that way, you can keep the full stop for driving anxiety forever.