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What You Should Know About Driving Anxiety

We all feel a little nervous or anxious sometimes. Whether it is right before a test or when watching a particularly scary movie. Even getting behind the wheel can be a bit nerve wracking from time to time. However, what happens when those nerves just don’t seem to go away? Or feel so intense that you having trouble breathing?

This is when your feelings are more than just a case of nerves, but rather are feelings of full-blown anxiety disorder.
An anxiety disorder is a type of mental health disorder that is characterized by feelings of fear, worry, or anxiety that are strong enough to interfere with an individual’s daily life.

The fear of driving, also known as Vehophobia, is anxiety that is focused on driving a vehicle, being a passenger in a vehicle, and/or being stuck in certain driving situations. This fear often causes an individual to avoid driving as much as possible, creating excusing to not drive, and even refusing to get their driver’s license for years.

Those with this intense driving anxiety may feel one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Trembling

  • Sweating

  • Accelerated pulse

  • Loss of sense of reality

  • Frequent thoughts about losing control at the wheel

With how much coverage surrounds driving accidents, it isn’t strange that someone may not feel very safe while on the road. However, avoiding to drive or be in a vehicle all together can really get in the way of living. It is true that you can often take the public transit, bike or walk to most places, but it does not give you the same freedom or convenience that knowing to drive can. At the same time, those who continue to drive without treating their driving phobia could also end up being a great danger to others in the vehicle or on the road.

So what can you do about your problem?

As always, the first step is to admit that you have this phobia and that it is getting in the way of your life. Since you have continued to read this far, it is likely that you are already on the right track. It isn’t easy to admit, but it is a powerful first step and you should be proud of that.

Secondly, you shouldn’t blame yourself for your anxiety. Mental illness is not ‘attention-seeking’ or a personal failure. It is an illness of the brain that changes the way it functions. For some, it is a genetic disorder that has been passed down and for others, it is your brain trying to cope after a frightening event. No matter what the reason, it is most certainly not your fault.

Thirdly, you need to seek out some sort of treatment. Though a therapist can really do wonders for helping anxiety patients, there are other methods you can try as well. For some, taking a class in defensive driving allows them to feel ‘in control’ again and give them the confidence they need to feel behind the wheel. Others may seek out meditation to learn healthier ways to calm their nerves.

Or perhaps you do seek out therapy. Group therapy can remind you that you aren’t alone in your struggles and can give you someone to relate to. One on one therapy can give you a better idea about what the root of your anxiety is and what methods would be best for your needs. For a small few, medication might end up being necessary. After all, an anxiety disorder is an illness of the mind and thus may need medication in order to work the way you need it to.