What Are The Symptoms Of Driving Anxiety
The symptoms of driving anxiety can vary widely. While some may only experience minor discomfort, others may deal with severe agony when trying to drive.
Most of the associative telltale signs are common in other phobias and conditions as well. As such, its vital to get a professional assessment if you think you could be experiencing driving anxiety.
Moreover, qualified personnel can also determine if the signs are indicative of other psychological conditions.
Feelings of fear and restlessness whenever you feel compelled to drive. These feelings are often persistent, irrational, and excessive and can generally get worse with time.
The most common signs and symptoms of driving anxiety are:
- A strong desire to get away from vehicles
- Sweaty palms
- Feeling like youre losing control
- Feeling like youre about to pass out
These symptoms can occur individually or as a combination. If you notice any of these whenever youre driving, you could be suffering from driving anxiety.
The anxiety symptoms that you may be facing can be overcome- Click the button below to schedule your appointment.
How Do You Overcome Driving Anxiety
How do you overcome driving anxiety? Is it even possible?
The good news is that you can overcome driving anxiety. In fact, you can overcome it in as little as one hour even if youve had it for decades!
The key to overcoming driving anxiety is to find out whats causing it. Let me give you an example of how that works.
Common Causes Of Driving Anxiety
Everyone is different and has their own experiences. However, there are some commonalities when it comes to identifying causes of driving anxiety. The following are the three most common reasons for driving anxiety.
If youve been in a car crash before, especially an injurious or horrific one, then theres a chance that you have some sort of underlying trauma associated with the act of driving. Even getting into a car can trigger anxiety-related episodes including panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder . In fact, experts estimate, rates of PTSD and other psychopathologies like acute stress reactions, adjustment disorders or specific phobias following a traffic crash range from 8 to over 30%. If youve been involved in a car crash, it would be a good idea to talk about it with a therapist just to ensure your mental health is not at risk.
You are outside of your comfort zone
Driving outside of your comfort zone can be overwhelming, especially for new drivers. For instance, maybe youre driving through a new city with congested traffic and the drivers are more aggressive than youre used to. Perhaps youre driving through mountainous areas with winding roads along cliff sides. Maybe youre driving through adverse weather conditions, such as a torrential downpour or a blizzard, for the first time. No matter the situation, driving outside of our comfort zones can leave room for anxiety to creep in.
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What If I Cant Find The Cause Of Driving Anxiety
Your problem exists in your subconscious mind so as long as your subconscious finds the cause and fixes it, thats all that matters.
Once you start working with me, your subconscious mind will realise its got something wrong regarding driving as I explained in the example above.
It is nice if you get to know the cause so you can have closure but this only happens if your subconscious mind chooses to tell you.
You neednt worry about any of this because Ill take care of all this stuff for you.
Calm Your Mind Before Driving
As with most anxieties and phobias, driving anxiety scrambles your mind and makes it nearly impossible to be coherent or process thoughts as you naturally would.
This only worsens the situation and makes you feel like you cant drive from fears and mental breakdowns.
To deal with this, you can create a calm environment for your mind anytime youre about to drive.
By regularly practicing relaxation techniques, you build a wall between your fears and your mind. Daily relaxation techniques can also calm your mind and help you deal with the days stresses, including driving.
Heres a simple and effective relaxation technique you can use during the day:
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Try to calm down and take control of your breathing.
- Inhale gently and deeply through your nose as you count from one to five.
- Exhale slowly and gently through your mouth as you count from one to five.
- Repeat this process several times until you can feel yourself getting calmer. You can repeat this technique several times a day.
Additionally, you can use Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercises to take more control of your mind and body. By clenching and loosening targeted muscles, youll build awareness of tension retention and release.
To start progressive muscle relaxation techniques, clench your fists for ten seconds and then release them for another ten seconds. Focus on the tension leaving your fists and hands throughout the exercise.
These muscle exercises also help you:
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What Causes Anxiety Attacks While Driving
Driving anxiety is difficult to be traced to a particular factor. The connection between stress and driving could be a valid reason why drivers get anxiety attacks.
In the same vein, the cause might not come from stress while driving. Moreover, some panic attacks happen for no reason at all.
Below are the most common causes of anxiety attacks while driving:
- Stress: Imagine a person with a high-stress condition getting behind the wheel to drive. There is a great chance that such a person would encounter panic attacks while driving.
- Anxiety: A high level of anxiety is mostly generated from either the environment or biological conditions. It is a probable cause of such panic attacks.
- Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is a medical condition and is also hereditary. Most people who have panic disorder suffer from panic attacks even if it is not related to driving. Panic or anxiety attacks can occur while driving. It is occasionally predictable or expected, and sometimes not.
- Recent Accident: If someone is a victim of a prior accident, even if not related to driving could trigger panic attacks.
- Driving through a Tunnel or Bridge: Tunnels can make you feel trapped, while bridges can bring the terror of driving over. Driving through a tunnel or bridge can activate phobic feelings, which are the source of anxiety.
- Highway Driving: Faster speed, more distractions, more cars, and traffic are the necessary experience in highway driving.
Effects On Mental Health
Driving phobia should not be taken lightly, as it can lead to multiple road accidents that could endanger the lives of so many people. It is a very serious condition that needs medical attention and treatment from a therapist, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist. A mental health professional can provide a treatment plan that could include medication, psychotherapy, joining support groups, and any combination of the three.
One of the best methods to treat driving anxiety or panic is cognitive behavioral therapy . The goal of CBT is to get rid of panic, anxiety, and negative thinking.
You should also consider enrolling in a defensive driving class. These classes can provide practical hands-on tips that can help you get back on the highway with no worries.
Because of intense mental stress, a person with a driving phobia may develop long-term medical health problems such as cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.
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The Link Between Travel And Anxiety
Again, many people experience fear of flying or driving even if they dont have an anxiety disorder. In at least one researchers opinion, fear of the unknown is the most basic human fear. What represents the unknown more than leaving the comfort of home?
So, if the thought of flying or driving in unfamiliar territory makes you feel more than a little jittery, its not uncommon. The good news is you can manage these fears.
Evaluate Your Life Wholesomely
One aspect of your life can easily spill into other spheres. For example, when youre stressed, it affects your health, diet, and work. The same goes for driving anxiety. In many cases, the cause of this anxiety is hidden in other spheres of your life.
Evaluate other aspects of your life to see if there are any correlating or causative factors. Stress, for instance, can lead to sleepless nights, feeling lethargic, and inability to concentrate. This can, in turn, impact your ability and confidence to drive.
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Causes Of Highway Driving Anxiety
- Being in a car accident Car accidents can be traumatic and have long-lasting impacts on your mental health. Although most are fender benders, others can leave you with ongoing anxiety after a car accident. This is especially true if you or others were injured in the accident.
- Witnessing an accident Just seeing a bad car accident may cause you to experience anxiety and trauma. This can happen even if you werent in it or otherwise personally involved.
- Fear of losing control The speed and complexity of driving on the highway feels overwhelming to a lot of people. Some of them avoid highways altogether in order to not feel so out of control. Everything happens so fast, and it just feels like too much to keep track of.
- Fear of getting lost This may sound strange, but one of the biggest fears of anxious drivers is getting lost. And, to be fair, highway exits and on-ramps are confusing, especially when youre on an unfamiliar section of highway. This exacerbates anxiety about getting lost and ending up somewhere you didnt intend.
Why Do You Get Anxious About Driving
There are many reasons why people get anxious about driving. It can be caused by a specific environment, such as crowded places or busy streets. There is also a chance that you get nervous about driving because your family passed it to you. Unfortunately, anxiety and panic disorders can be passed through the family. For example, if your parents struggled with driving anxiety, you could develop the same fear over time.
Another reason you might feel anxious about driving is PTSD . Getting into an accident or witnessing one is a significant event in our lives. A traumatic car accident may lead to a great fear of driving. Study shows that 1/3 of drivers involved in road accidents develop PTSD.
Can your emotions control your driving? Stress is a big factor when it comes to being able to drive. It can lead to sleepless nights and the inability to concentrate. When you are stressed because of events in your life, for example, your work, it impacts your ability and confidence to drive.
When not adequately managed, stress generally lowers your ability to perform tasks we do on a daily basis and worsens your confidence in doing so. Therefore, when going through a new chapter in your life, such as losing a job or going through a tough moment in your family, you could experience anxiety while driving.
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Bring In Your Supports
You probably could confront and improve your driving related anxiety independently, but tackling a tricky issue with your friends and family is always more rewarding and more fun. If you need help with your driving anxiety, bring in your supports.
When dealing with driving anxiety, supports can help by:
- Reminding you of coping skills
- Recommending new coping skills
- Keeping you on track
- Driving with you to reduce tension and stress
Even the process of sharing your story of driving-related anxiety can be helpful. Telling others about your stress and struggles can help the healing process and speed your recovery.
Fear Of Driving On Freeway
The thought of driving on freeways for many can be anxiety inducing for different reasons.
Years ago when my daughter was two years old, I was driving on a busy freeway with her and my six year old nephew. It was a bright sunny day in the middle of winter and the roads were completely dry.
While happily driving my VW Golf GTI a transport truck began moving into my lane. I didnt see him and he obviously didnt see me because his truck began pushing my car into the next lane.
When he realized this he backed off and that sent my car spinning around on the freeway until I hit the guardrail head on. Thankfully, my gaze was met by rows of cars stopped in front of me, as I was now pointed in the wrong direction.
Gratefully, we were all fine.
My body was in shock from what had occurred and after that I was adamant not to drive on the freeway ever again. I looked for any alternative route to drive on and stayed on local roads.
Thankfully, I was eventually able to command rational thought and confidence after several months and got back on freeways again.
There are many reasons for people to have a fear or anxiety of driving on the freeway.
- Inability to Stop or Get Off
Many people feel trapped with an inability to stop or to get off the freeway. This is not a rational fear, although it can be debilitating.
- Getting On or Getting Off the Highway
Merging traffic and changing lanes can be areas that may make someone afraid about highway driving.
- Going Too Fast and Losing Control
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How Can You Know If Youre Suffering From Driving Anxiety
It is not unusual to be anxious about driving at certain times or in certain conditions.
Various road situations call for an expert driver, and these can make any driver a little nervous. However, if you have a never-ending fear about being in the drivers seat, this could be a sign of driving anxiety.
Apart from the above-mentioned telltale signs and symptoms of an anxious driver, there are various driving psychological assessment tests to help determine if you have driving anxiety.
These tests measure several factors and variables spanning from specific symptoms to measuring specific kinds of driving anxiety. The driving Cognition Questionnaire is perhaps the most popular driving anxiety assessment test available for you.
More Anxiety And Driving Problems
A lack of driving experience is a common driving anxiety symptom for new drivers. Whenever you step into a completely new experience, its understandable to have a certain level of trepidation or anxiety surrounding it.
When a person doesnt know all of the details within a specific subject matter, theyre not going to confidently offer their opinion on it. The same concept applies for someone who has a lack of knowledge surrounding traffic laws and how to navigate the roads. Theyre going to feel a certain sense of anxiety because this is not their area of expertise. Knowledge and experience are key in avoiding more anxiety and driving problems.
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What Causes A Fear Of Driving
Driving anxiety is caused by your subconscious mind stopping you from driving because it thinks its bad for you.
Your subconscious mind is what takes care of all the things you do each day without thinking like breathing, walking and talking. If you start to fall over, your subconscious mind kicks in instantly and helps you regain your balance. You may not even know its there but it is and it watches over you all the time.
The problem is, your subconscious mind speaks in a different language to us and unless you know that language, you cant tell it to just stop it and let you drive!
So what is this language? Metaphors and images. You know when you have those crazy dreams like being a sheep flying around the moon in a fighter jet? Thats how your subconscious mind talks!
Although its very powerful, it makes silly mistakes and you can only correct them if you can speak in the same language it understands.
Thats why telling yourself to calm down or just get on with it wont work. Youre talking to the wrong thing in the wrong language.
I know all this sounds crazy so let me give you a case study to show how it works.
This video goes into more detail about exactly how your fear of driving began
How To Overcome Driving Anxiety As A New Driver
Being a new driver can be scary. Youre traveling at high speeds, sometimes on slippery roads, and you are sharing the roadways with people who may or may not be safe drivers themselves. And the stakes are literally life and death. Being anxious is a perfectly appropriate feeling.
In fact, were learning that driving anxiety is more common than anyone thought. A survey of American drivers found that 66 percent of the population experience driving anxiety.
But this normal human response to the stressors of driving can be dangerous. Anxiety can result in overly-cautious driving or aggressive driving, both of which increase the odds of a collision.
So its critical to manage your driving anxiety. And we have five tips to help!
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Why People Have A Fear Of Driving
There are a number of reasons you may experience driving anxiety. It may be one overarching reason or several reasons accumulated together. One possible reason is due to a fear of fatality while driving. It may be the case that you fear the driving abilities of other drivers on the road, or you may fear your own driving abilities. Either way, there is a constant worry that you or someone else is going to die while on the road. While accidents do occur, constantly imaging an accident only heightens the anxiety experienced while driving and can very well be distracting. This can only increase your chances of having an accident. Another reason you may experience anxiety while driving is simply not knowing where youre going. It can be overwhelming driving in a new city or visiting a friend in a new home because you are out of your element. Trying to focus on maneuvering a vehicle while cognitively thinking about where youre going entails multitasking, splitting your attention to various tasks. This can be anxiety-provoking.