Do you ever feel anxious when you’re driving and know that it’s caused by more than just a traffic jam or running late? Driving anxiety is a real phobia or can be a symptom of having an anxiety disorder. In this car-centric country, not being able to drive affects every aspect of a person’s life. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson provides treatment for all types of anxiety disorders that help people regain control. We can help you get back out on the road with a new sense of calmness.
What is Driving Anxiety?
Most people have heard of common phobias such as a fear of heights or flying. What many don’t know is that there is a phobia called amaxophobia. It is also known as hamaxophobia or motorphobia. Amaxophobia is a fear of driving or being a passenger in a vehicle. It can extend to being fearful of riding on a bus, train, or airplane. When the person is in a vehicle, they feel extreme anxiety and may have a panic attack. Even the thought of driving or being a passenger can bring on feelings of anxiety.
Fears about being in a car can include being involved in an accident or becoming trapped in the vehicle. As well, the person may fear having a panic attack while in the car and not being able to escape and calm down. Having driving anxiety can enormously impact a person’s life. It can make it difficult for them to travel to work, school, social events, or go on vacation. Someone experiencing this fear may have no idea what’s going on and be embarrassed to talk to someone about it.
Causes of Driving Anxiety
Developing driving anxiety can happen for different reasons. Genetics can play a part, as they often do when it comes to mental health disorders. If a family member has experienced an anxiety disorder or specific phobias, it increases the likelihood that other members of the family will develop a problem. Another trigger involves the person having been in an accident or observed one. The lingering traumatic effects can translate into a fear of driving or being in a vehicle.
Driving anxiety can also occur alongside other anxiety disorders or phobias. These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and claustrophobia. It can also happen to people who have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Dangers of Driving Anxiety
When someone who has driving anxiety gets behind the wheel, it can be dangerous for both themselves and others. They may have difficulty concentrating on the road and making decisions. Their reaction times may be slowed. A person can be more likely to cause or be involved in an accident, as a result. Even as a passenger, if the person expresses a high level of anxiety, it can distract or even frighten the driver.
Do I Have Driving Anxiety Quiz
If you are not sure if you have driving anxiety but suspect you might or know someone who might, take this Driving Anxiety Quiz.
- Do you feel anxiety or fear when driving?
- Do you have panic attacks when driving?
- Does just thinking about driving bring on feelings of anxiety?
- Do you feel anxiety or fear when riding in a car with someone else driving?
- Do you avoid situations that require you to be in a car?
- Do you experience anxiety when on a bus, train, or airplane?
- Has fear of driving caused problems with your work, school, family obligations, or social life?
- When driving or riding in a car, do you experience any of these symptoms:
- Tightness in the chest
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A fear of dying
If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, it may be wise to seek a professional evaluation for an anxiety disorder to see if treatment may be necessary.
How is Driving Anxiety Treated?
Driving anxiety can be treated in similar ways to treatment for many anxiety disorders. Talk therapy provides the backbone of treatment for any type of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy proves effective for many people. Some therapists use exposure therapy to help people overcome a fear of experiences such as driving. This includes exposing the person to images, videos, or situations that trigger feelings of anxiety.
The person learns relaxation techniques including how to control their breathing in order to keep anxiety from overtaking them. Then, the person drives a short distance while supervised by the therapist. This process can even be done through virtual reality, in some cases.
In addition, many prescription medications can help ease symptoms of anxiety. If the individual also has another mental health disorder, they should receive treatment for it simultaneously. When all mental illnesses are treated at the same time, it makes it easier to make real progress in each area.
Contact Our Treatment Center About Driving Anxiety
If you find that you are experiencing driving anxiety, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson offers effective residential programs to help people overcome a variety of anxiety disorders. Our program features multiple types of therapy provided by experts in the field of anxiety. We help people address what triggers their anxiety and learn to manage it.
If you would like to talk to us about getting help for anxiety, visit our admissions page now. We can answer your questions and provide you with the help you deserve.