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People are sometimes nervous when driving for different reasons. Driving anxiety affects the way people live their daily lives. It can cause serious pain and affect someone’s mental health. Past experiences can cause anxiety. This article describes the symptoms of an anxious mood as well as it causes. In addition, it tackles treatment, tips, and alternative strategies for overcoming the fear of driving and the accompanying panic attack.
Why Do People Have Anxiety While Driving?
Amaxophobia describes the fear of driving. Many factors can trigger driving anxiety. Past traumatic experiences, such as a car accident or a specific phobia of something related to driving, such as a fear of confined spaces or heights, can trigger anxiety. In addition, anxiety disorders, such as panic or generalized anxiety disorder, can also create excessive fear of getting into a vehicle. A person suffering from driving anxiety may feel a loss of control and an impending threat.
The symptoms can be identical. At the same time, the causes of driving phobia can vary widely. Here are a few potential causes of driving anxiety.
Driver anxiety may occur due, in part, to impaired sight. If you feel dizziness, lightheadedness, or lack of balance in a driving situation, you may require a vision check with a professional optometrist for this condition. According to some optometrists, visual impairment may lead to driving anxiety. Anxiety and dizziness while driving are common symptoms of eye misallocation (i.e. binocular vision dysfunction). If drivers feel anxiety or lightheadedness while driving and have some visual impairment, they should contact their eye doctor to rule out this possibility.
A Recent Accident
A crash can obviously create driving anxieties. The diagnosis provided by a psychologist would often list post-traumatic stress disorder or acute stress disorder, adjustment disorder and phobia. A large percentage of drivers experience an anxious state during traffic accidents. Not all of them develop a driving phobia, but the fear of driving can linger. And they might become more uncomfortable in a vehicle.
You do not need to be driving to experience driving anxiety. A passenger can also develop a fear of driving after an accident. They may be afraid of getting in a vehicle as their minds replay a crash’s negative scenario.
Early Signs of Dementia & Ageing
The response time of a driver at the wheel tend to slow with age, which can result in increased stress and pressure. In addition, if dementia or cognitive degeneration is present, then panic attacks are possible. In this particular case, a person should refrain from driving.
Triggered by Bridges & Tunnels
Bridges and tunnels can induce fear from people despite having little or zero phobias. Tunnels may cause people to feel trapped, while bridges create crash images. It is difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the fear of bridges. Unfortunately, in many places in the world, many people have to drive through a bridge or a tunnel to go to work or run errands.
Family History of Anxiety Disorders
A family history of anxiety disorders is very important because of the increased likelihood that one develops anxiety. Sometimes, driving anxiety can be learned. A person who grew up with a family member, especially a parent, can also develop anxiety and stop driving.
Triggered by Highway Driving
Highway driving involves faster speeds and a greater number of vehicles. For inexperienced people, the lack of practice can cause them to feel overwhelmed by the expressway traffic.
Almost all problems in a car don’t lead to accidents. Driving in adverse circumstances, including fog and flooding, can be frightening. While it is natural to feel tension because of unusual circumstances, anxiety is unhealthy. Remember that you have a driving license: as a result, you have the driving skills you need.
Specific Phobias Like Agoraphobia
Fearing the crowd may cause anxiety and may even lead to panic attacks for some drivers. During rush hours, roads can be busy, and the sheer amount of cars can bring up the driving anxiety.
The Fear of Getting Lost
In some instances, the driver is perfectly comfortable in the car. But a panic attack might arise when they fear getting lost. That fear may trigger severe anxiety symptoms and add constraints to the driver. To avoid panic attacks, a person might prepare an itinerary and a contingency plan to avoid the feeling of losing control.
Effects of Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety affects the body in the short-term by causing muscles tensions and anger. With time, anxiety can take a toll on the body because it often finds itself in flight-or-fight mode.
Another side-effect of driving anxiety is the lack of freedom to go to new places or crowded places. A person suffering from driving anxiety might decide only to take public transportation when available. Due to the public transport’s schedule or perceived lack of safety, travellers might avoid higher-paying jobs that require some driving and see their social life dwindle to a few friends nearby.
The effects can negatively impact your financial wellness and mental health. They are serious enough for you to manage anxiety and avail yourself of a good treatment.
Learning to drive with anxiety disorder can be very challenging. Very often, a driving licence opens doors to opportunities as you can look for jobs at locations with limited public transportation access.
Is Driving Anxiety a Mental Disorder?
Driving anxiety can be debilitating, but it is not considered a mental disorder per se. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), does not list driving anxiety as a condition.
Nevertheless, phobias associated with that fear are official mental disorders recognized by the DSM-5. For example, a person may experience the fear of being in a vehicle (amaxophobia) or the fear of driving (vehophobia). In addition, a clinical psychologist may diagnose a person suffering from driving anxiety as a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) when the symptoms interfere with daily activities.
Symptoms of Driving Anxiety
Driving anxiety can bring about many symptoms. The signs can be psychological or physical. They can include feeling anxious or nervous about driving, avoiding driving altogether, or or feeling like you must drive in a certain way to stay safe.
Physical symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing can also occur. If you experience these symptoms, you must talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to get help. If you recognize these driving anxiety symptoms in a person you know well enough, suggest they get help managing anxiety. There are effective ways to overcome these driving-related fears.
How to Get over the Fear of Driving?
Driving can make a big difference in people’s everyday lives. Although some people are anxious while driving, it is important that you don’t let your fear or anxiety affect your daily routine. Use some of the suggestions below to manage your driving fear. Remember to consult a mental health provider when you experience intense tension during the driving process. Here are a few tips for managing your fears in the meantime.
- Fear is a natural and possibly universal human experience. When we feel fear, our brains flood our […]
Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
During this process, you need to make deliberate attempts at the desired outcome. Think about the long or short-term effects of your action. When pursuing a long-term cure for PTSD, driving a vehicle, you may be able to follow a specific route. But in the short term, you need to raise the stakes gradually.
Commit to micro-steps like choosing a familiar route with reduced traffic at a time when the number of cars is less. By noticing that you are becoming more comfortable behind the wheel, you can become more used to driving, which improves your driving skills. You can then start noticing a reduction in the frequency and intensity of the panic attack. Stress levels go down. And you become less likely to feel that driving can trigger anxiety.
Overcoming fear is possible. It just requires patience to build up long-term good mental health. Make sure to prepare before a road trip. Choose an itinerary and time with light traffic and where you can stop as often as possible.
Better Understand Your Anxiety
Understanding how driving affects the way people respond is essential for the development of a coping system to help minimize anxiety symptoms. Please take a few moments to retrace your driving anxiety experience and investigate when it started or worsened. When did the driving anxiety start? Is there an accident that triggered these feelings? Is it normal that you feel anxious when driving alone?
As you become more aware of the underlying patterns behind your driving phobia, you can you can overcome driving anxiety and experience a better quality of life.
Experiment with Relaxation
When stress begins to arise at any given time, it can be an excellent opportunity to review relaxation strategies. Relaxation methods are psychological strategies to reduce stress. This relaxing method reduces anxiety.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Breathing exercises can be very helpful in managing anxiety. Taking slow and deep breaths will help to relax your body and mind and make it easier to focus on enjoying the journey. Deep breathing can be your first step in overcoming driving-related fears.
Follow Therapy to Treat Driving Phobia
A mental health professional can help you learn new skills to alleviate the fear. Counsellors or psychologists may use different methods, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, also called CBT. They often incorporate exposure therapy and relaxation techniques in their session to overcome intense fear. You should feel a reduction in anxiety symptoms and driving-related fear. Contact us for more information about our counselling services.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (i.e., CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps you to identify and change the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to your driving anxiety. CBT can be done on your own or with the help of a counsellor as well.
Virtual Exposure Therapy
Virtual exposure therapy gradually exposes you to the situations that made you anxious, starting with the least anxiety-provoking situations and working up to the most anxiety-provoking situations. You can experiment with exposure therapy on your own or enlist the help of a therapist.
Leverage Hypnotherapy for Driving Anxiety Symptoms
Did you know that hypnosis is already used in major hospitals to reduce patient anxiety before tests or surgery? In addition, hypnosis’s benefits in managing anxiety and reducing specific phobias are no longer a secret. It is the only mind-body technique with multiple applications and documented studies that can target physical health and mental health issues.
Whether you suffered from a car accident or developed the fear of driving for no obvious reasons, hypnosis can support you in many ways. You can release the panic attack, learn new relaxation techniques, and explore your improvements in different scenarios where you can imagine yourself behind the wheel. Compared to other therapies, it is faster and bridges the connection between mind and body.
No Access to a Hypnotherapist? Get a Self-Hypnosis App!
You might have tried “therapy cbt” or exposure therapy, and you do not have access to a professional hypnotherapist. But the signs are clear. You do suffer from driving-related anxiety. A self-hypnosis app can help you overcome your fears and reduce driving anxiety symptoms. Renewed Edge has partnered with UpNow Health to create life-changing self-hypnosis audios. With the “fear of driving hypnosis download”, you can stop losing control to anxiety from the comfort of your home and instead enjoy driving again.
- Hypnotherapy uses hypnosis to help you tap into your subconscious mind and can be used to address […]
Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: What is It? How to Use it?
Virtual reality exposure therapy can refer to two things. It can refer to classical exposure therapy delivered through a virtual reality environment. You will wear VR goggles and immerse yourself in a virtual environment where you can experiment with different driving environments
The brain contains one of the most powerful simulators. You can imagine yourself in a vehicle, going through the same scenarios, on a bridge, in a tunnel, in dense traffic and notice after a self-hypnosis or a hypnotherapy session that you have overcome the fear of driving. You can feel more in control. Many athletes have used this technique for decades to prepare before high-stake games. You can use it after a proper hypnosis treatment to do a reality check.
Improving your Mental Health with Renewed Edge
If you often ask yourself, “why do I have driving anxiety?” you must remember that many different factors can contribute to driving anxiety. These can include past traumatic experiences, such as being in a car accident or having a specific phobia of something related to driving, such as a fear of heights if you have to drive over a bridge. Anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, can also make driving difficult and bring about panic attacks and intense symptoms of stress.
Self-driving cars are here to stay. But human drivers are still indispensable. Many people may feel that they have no other option than to avoid driving. This strategy can only become short-term and can overcome the fear of driving. However, now that you understand how to ease driving anxiety, you can practice and regain control over your life.
The Renewed Edge Hypnotherapy & Counselling Centre is there to help you. Whether you have a specific phobia or generalized anxiety, your Renewed Edge therapist can help you lead a healthier and happier life. Contact us today and book with one of our mental health counsellors.