Driving Phobia Causes, Symptoms And Cure

By Bertha Wells
Driving phobia is what one might call the poor second cousin among the phobias. It is constantly outshined by more famous brethren such as arachnophobia and claustrophobia, and doesn’t even have its own Latin name. However, panic attacks behind the wheel are a whole lot more deadly to the patient and others, as compared to the terror of an up-close encounter with a spider or being stuck in a lift.

In order to overcome this disorder, it is important to understand the nature of the beast. Take a look at the symptoms, causes and possible treatments outlined below. Panicked drivers can be classified under two categories, depending on the nature of the trigger. A person who has suffered in a prior accident has a legitimate reason to panic, and the PTSD symptoms can pop up when facing similar situations again.

The other set have no PTSD, but still go into panic mode whenever faced with triggers such as heavy traffic or stress, or both. Some of these people have an outsized fear of being hurt or killed in vehicle accidents. Under stressful conditions, this fear bubbles over and leads to loss of focus and control. This is a self-fulfilling case of fear of an accident causing a real accident.

Passengers can be afraid of being in a car for pretty much the same reasons. Pedestrians can similarly be afraid of sidewalks and intersections on roads with vehicles whizzing by. Some patients cannot handle excessive speeds, which is a lot more inconvenient since it precludes just about any kind of travel.

The way these fears manifest themselves physically is very much the same in all these cases. There will be heavy sweating and uncontrollable trembling and shaking. Unsteady and slippery hands will be accompanied by blurred vision caused by sweat and fear. The result is loss of control of the vehicle and an inability to focus on the road. The chances of an accident are now very real, so panic sets in with an accelerated pulse. The patient is unable to think clearly or take any evasive action.

Medication can be provided to calm the nerves and keep the aforementioned symptoms at bay. However, this is a psychological affliction for which the only real cure is therapy. Except for the driver suffering from PTSD caused by an earlier accident, the rest of these cases can all be treated entirely through behavioral therapy.

Lifestyle changes and an improvement in driving skills may also be helpful. Consider taking lessons from a good driver or even sign up for a driving school class. It should help in learning how to relax behind the wheel. Changes in technique may actually reduce the chances of an accident. Giving up a stressful commute or a job that requires going through heavy traffic is sure to help.

One thing people suffering from a driving phobia should know is that their problem is very much real and is considered to be a medical condition, just like obesity or alcoholism. The support of family and friends is invaluable, so don’t try to hide it from them. The fastest way to overcome this affliction is to acknowledge it and get help.

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