Driving anxiety

duckie13 Community Member January 05, 2008
  • I used to be able to drive anywhere I wanted. I used to love to drive. Now I fear driving. I had an accident about 2 years ago. About 2 months after the accident, while driving on a long road trip with my boss, I had my first ever anxiety attack. I thought I was going to DIE!! I was dizzy, lightheaded, and I had a feeling of not being apart of this world. I had to stop at a gas station. I told my boss I needed to use the restroom. I was ashamed. Ever since I've had drivers anxiety. I've tried to look for "triggers". I seem to get anxiety when others are in the car with me. Although I've had it when I was alone as well. But it's mostly when others are with me. Now I should mention when driving with my wife and kid I don't get it. It's usually when driving with my boss, friends, etc. During these attacks talking with whomever is in the car with me is the worst thing ever!!! When they talk their voice seems to be so far away. If that makes any sense. It only serves to highlight my condition on my mind and bring on further anxiety. I takes all my power to blurt out a few grunts and growns in response. Then I get the feeling they know somethings wrong and the anxiety gets even worse!! It's a giant, out of control snowball crashing endlessly down a massive mountain. I taken to pulling on the skin under my chin as a way to stop the anxiety. This works a little but not completely. I want my old life back. My question is: What the He** is happening to me??!! How do I stop it?
32 Comments
  • Kimberly Tyler
    Health Guide
    Jan. 08, 2008

    Dear Duckie13,

     

    Being in a car accident can be very serious business--both physically as well as mentally. The resulting anxiety when it comes to driving again can be tricky and often difficult--to the point you are at with the experience of anxiety attacks. (When in any type of car accident--whether you or another was at fault--the end result was a car...

    RHMLucky777

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    Dear Duckie13,

     

    Being in a car accident can be very serious business--both physically as well as mentally. The resulting anxiety when it comes to driving again can be tricky and often difficult--to the point you are at with the experience of anxiety attacks. (When in any type of car accident--whether you or another was at fault--the end result was a car not in control. Particularly after an accident, and knowing that car accidents occur quickly and without warning is enough to focus on the concept of "being on the lookout" for the next potential accident so you can avoid it. This thought (or perhaps something akin to it) is perhaps still dominant for you and what very well may be the reason for the anxiety you are experiencing.

     

    The disconnection you are feeling from those around you is part of the anxiety attack. Particularly if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded, everything around you feels so far away.

     

    Perhaps the anxiety is not so bad with your wife because she knows about it so it is something you do not have to hide or feel shame about?

     

    Any kind of distraction in the car while you are driving can exacerbate the anxiety you may be feeling as you may feel like you are splitting focus between the road and conversation and you do not feel confident at this point yet to do so. Perhaps you could request of your boss and friends that you not be the driver for awhile.

     

    As for "getting back" to where you were before.... You may need to just drive by yourself or wife/child until you can feel some of your old comfort level and confidence come back. Know that you can drive your best on the road and continue to practice this. Trust yourself that you are a good driver, and this anxiety is in response to an accident. Car accidents can be about loss of control over a situation and you may be trying to control more than one person can....

     

    Being open with others about what you are currently experiencing may actually be supportive during this time. Car accidents can shake us all up pretty badly, and getting back in the swing of driving comfortably takes time. Most of us have been in car accidents and it takes awhile to not be extra vigilant to the point of excess anxiety.

     

    You may also want to consider talking to a therapist for a few sessions about the anxiety attacks and talking about the origins of the anxiety through. This may also serve to alleviate the anxiety if you are in conscious awareness of why it is there and why it continues (like you write, you are in a position of a "snowball effect" and the anxiety is creating additional anxiety). Learning to recognize when an anxiety attack is coming on, and learning techniques that work for you to inhibit a full-blown attack will work in your best interests to inhibit the "snowball" culmination of many anxiety factors.

     

    Please let us know how you do, and how it all works for you. There are so many who have this experience you share. Take your time with this and try not to force yourself out of the anxiety. It is what it is, and then it will alleviate as you identify your dominant thoughts while driving (or thinking about driving) and take steps to get back to your level of comfort.

     

    Best,

    Kimberly Tyler

  • Anonymous
    Lola
    Mar. 03, 2013

    I also used to be able to drive anywhere with no fears.

     

    I remember someone talking to me in 2005, and telling me her husband couldn't drive over bridges, how annoying it was that she always had to drive if they knew a bridge was on the route.  I thought it was interesting, but didn't connect with it at that point.

     

    During drives home after...

    RHMLucky777

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    I also used to be able to drive anywhere with no fears.

     

    I remember someone talking to me in 2005, and telling me her husband couldn't drive over bridges, how annoying it was that she always had to drive if they knew a bridge was on the route.  I thought it was interesting, but didn't connect with it at that point.

     

    During drives home after I moved away (2005-2007), I started to hesitate a bit when bridges came, and always felt the need to move into the middle lane while on bridges.

     

    In 2010, I moved away again, and now I have major driving anxiety.  Among other things, I don't like to drive in the dark, on new roads in the dark, over bridges, under tunnels, in the mountains, and especially in construction.  I know part of it stems from being not liking driving and feeling like the slightest wrong move could result in major catastrophe (i.e. falling off a bridge, causing major accident in small space of construction, tunnel, etc.). 

     

    I have thought abouts seeing a therapist.  My fear of bridges was alleviated a bit when my friend drove with me and repeated with me, "It's just the road, it's just the road," but I'm not sure such calming would work on a major bridge or in a long tunnel. 

     

    This definitely makes me feel trapped. 

     

  • Donna-1
    May. 19, 2011

    I fear driving anyplace new.  It greatly restricts my life.  It is one of the reasons why I don't return to college, why I don't go on vacation, why I pray my psychiatrist never moves his office.  I am terrified of going anywhere I haven't been before (at least several times) even if I have a map or someone else in the car knows the way. ...

    RHMLucky777

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    I fear driving anyplace new.  It greatly restricts my life.  It is one of the reasons why I don't return to college, why I don't go on vacation, why I pray my psychiatrist never moves his office.  I am terrified of going anywhere I haven't been before (at least several times) even if I have a map or someone else in the car knows the way.  It doesn't make any sense, I know.  But then a lot of anxieties don't.  My sister and therapist say, "Just get in the car and go.  Head out and drive, you'll eventually get to someplace with which you are familiar, and enough times of aimless driving and you will begin to realize where you are and how to get back home."  There is an interstate hwy that encircles Dallas/Fort Worth and another one that bisects it.  They say I would not be able to go very far without running into one or the other and could therefore not get lost.  I beg to differ.  I can get lost in my own back yard!  "Just do it" doesn't work for me.  For one thing, when I get anxious and upset while driving (because I can't find my way) then I start getting confused and have a kind of "out of body experience" where it seems like I am looking at myself from someone else's view.  And I can't concentrate enough to drive safely when this happens.  I've already had several major wrecks in my life and don't want to go through that again.  So I mostly say on the beaten path.  I really, really wish I could get over this but it seems there is no way around it (at least not one that I can find -- lol.)

  • Anonymous
    elpea70
    Aug. 08, 2010

    I can totally relate to each and every story told here about panic attacks while driving. Mine came on suddenly too, about 7 years ago. You know it's irrational, but it's like something takes over your body. I don't want to be medicated so I've tried an accupressure routine when I get anxious driving, and that has helped. I have noticed that...

    RHMLucky777

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    I can totally relate to each and every story told here about panic attacks while driving. Mine came on suddenly too, about 7 years ago. You know it's irrational, but it's like something takes over your body. I don't want to be medicated so I've tried an accupressure routine when I get anxious driving, and that has helped. I have noticed that if I load up on caffeine and/or sugar those seem to contribute to the attacks, so I avoid them when I know I have to drive.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Jan. 05, 2010

    Hey Duckie,

    Last April i got into a car accident where I went through an intersection and hit someone, and I had a green light. About 2-3 months after the accident, I started feeling incredibly weird while driving, I used to take the freeway every single day and I can't really do that anymore. My heart starts beating really fast, I just lock up completely....

    RHMLucky777

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    Hey Duckie,

    Last April i got into a car accident where I went through an intersection and hit someone, and I had a green light. About 2-3 months after the accident, I started feeling incredibly weird while driving, I used to take the freeway every single day and I can't really do that anymore. My heart starts beating really fast, I just lock up completely. I have come to the point where I can't turn right on a red light because I am afraid that the people behind me are getting impatient, so I usually go the longest ways possible to get anywhere just to avoid a certain road, or light. Everytime I go through a green light I always imagine another car smashing into mine, and I have to look both ways now. I have learned to adjust my speed exactly so I will hit a green light when I have to make a right turn. It's literally out of control. To make matters worse, I got into another car accident about 2 months ago, and it was not my fault. this made my anxiety so much worse, I really feel like a weirdo, and I totally understand how you must feel. Sometimes drinking cold water helps me in the car, or being distracted with a good song. Have you found anything that helps you?

  • Anonymous
    T Town Disaster
    Jan. 01, 2010

    Hi

     

    For the last few years I have been having problems driving.  I thinkit started when I had a minor accident involving sun glare and black ice on the eway?  3 years ago while on vacation in VA I could not handle driving around the mountains, I felt like I was going to drive over the side.  Since then, especially during winter and night...

    RHMLucky777

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    Hi

     

    For the last few years I have been having problems driving.  I thinkit started when I had a minor accident involving sun glare and black ice on the eway?  3 years ago while on vacation in VA I could not handle driving around the mountains, I felt like I was going to drive over the side.  Since then, especially during winter and night driving, I have real problems driving on over passes.  I start to feel like I am going to pass out, my vision narrows, I slow waaay down, I truly feel completely out of control.  I am 59 years old and this just started happening within the last four years.  Help!

  • Anonymous
    S.G.
    Aug. 26, 2009

    Like everyone else here, I suffer driving anxiety all the time. Having been the passenger in nearly 7 accidents before I even had my license (my mother was a good driver but other people in our city were not), the anxiety started before I ever got behind the wheel. It didn't help that my beloved sister-in-law and unborn nephew were both killed in a car...

    RHMLucky777

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    Like everyone else here, I suffer driving anxiety all the time. Having been the passenger in nearly 7 accidents before I even had my license (my mother was a good driver but other people in our city were not), the anxiety started before I ever got behind the wheel. It didn't help that my beloved sister-in-law and unborn nephew were both killed in a car wreck, and that less than two months later I was involved in a wreck. I now live in NM where the chances of being in a drunk driving accident are higher than in most of the country.

     

    I face the fear every day, as one is told to do, but facing it has not helped it. I get a crushing, tight feeling in my chest below the sternum and light headed. I often feel the strange disconnected feeling most have described here, though I've never experienced the blind panic or vision issues. Rather than feeling that I need to pull over, I force myself to press on unless the feelings compromise my ability to drive safely. I feel anxious anytime I think about having to drive somewhere unfamiliar or far away and then feel anxious all the time because I think about it obsessively until it's over. I'm not one of those people who can avoid thinking about something, either. If it's there, I'm thinking about it.

     

    Now I must deal with this dread all the time as I'm returning to college and the university is in a location known for traffic, drunk drivers, confusing intersections, etc etc..

     

    Driving in ice and snow is absolutely terrifying for me. I learned to drive in a Southern climate so I was never instructed how to drive in such conditions. All I knew was that I had to take it slow and easy. Well, easy enough except that despite taking it slow and easy, I've still managed to put myself into a ditch a couple of times, narrowly avoiding a wreck each time. The law of averages demands that this will not be the case every time, and eventually I'm going to hit someone.

     

    I'm tired of feeling this way. I'm tired of trying everything they tell you to try and nothing working. I know it's a process and there's no quick fix solution, but the process is slower than what life is unforgivingly demanding of me and in the 7+ years of attempting the process, there has been no relief in sight.

     

    I don't mean to sound so hopeless. I would say my abilty to do things despite my anxiety is a good thing, along with not allowing it to rule my life. In this manner, I've at least taken some control of it since I can't get rid of it. It is also comforting to know that other people are out there with the same issue. Thanks for reading.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Aug. 04, 2009

    I too suffer from panic attacks while driving. Things that set if off are bridges, mountains and long curves in a road. My attacks started in 1990, the day I moved from my hometown (Nashville) to Atlanta. I'd previously driven for years between Atlanta and Nashville without any issues when suddenly as I was descending Monteagle mountain, my first panic attack...

    RHMLucky777

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    I too suffer from panic attacks while driving. Things that set if off are bridges, mountains and long curves in a road. My attacks started in 1990, the day I moved from my hometown (Nashville) to Atlanta. I'd previously driven for years between Atlanta and Nashville without any issues when suddenly as I was descending Monteagle mountain, my first panic attack happened and I had no idea what was happening! My life changed from that moment on. I've missed several family functions, class reunions, etc. due to the panic attacks. I'm fine driving in the city, no problem on highways until I get into the rural areas and mountains. I've tried the meds and they seemed to make the problem worse. I've read several comments and no one seems to have been cured....I'm DESPERATE!!

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous
    Aug. 04, 2009

    I too used to be able to drive anywhere.  For the last two years, I really have not driven at all.  I feel like I'm going to pass out!  Sometimes, I can drive with my family in the car and I'm okay.  It's generally worse when I stop at a light.  My fingers and feet go numb and I feel like I'm losing control of my body.

     

    Two years...

    RHMLucky777

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    I too used to be able to drive anywhere.  For the last two years, I really have not driven at all.  I feel like I'm going to pass out!  Sometimes, I can drive with my family in the car and I'm okay.  It's generally worse when I stop at a light.  My fingers and feet go numb and I feel like I'm losing control of my body.

     

    Two years ago, I was on the freeway and I started getting nervous and literally saw black on and off.  I could'nt pull over because I was in a bad neighborhood.  Ever since then, I've had the worst anxiety attacks while driving and it even started to affect me when ever I was alone in a store, bank, etc.  Sometimes, just thinking of how I feel when I have a attack is even horrible. 

     

    I want my life back!!  It such a helpless feeling.  Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Sep. 29, 2009

      wow, i was reading your post, and i have the same problem as you! last februrary, i passed out while working. and ever since then, i always am afraid that i am going to faint again in a public place! i dont shop any more, i havent driven anywhere that is more than 10 minuets ways from my home. I guess im really scared because i might faint at the wheel. i have...

      RHMLucky777

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      wow, i was reading your post, and i have the same problem as you! last februrary, i passed out while working. and ever since then, i always am afraid that i am going to faint again in a public place! i dont shop any more, i havent driven anywhere that is more than 10 minuets ways from my home. I guess im really scared because i might faint at the wheel. i have to drive 4 hours away from my home on october 16th and i am scared to death! but i use to drive to detroit almost every weekend. I wonder if there is a cure for this!!!

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Oct. 04, 2009

      I've been to doctors and they always write out prescriptions for different anxiety medicine that really doesn't work.  I've read several other posts on this site and some people take different vitamins like B-Complex, D, etc.  I really don't know what to do anymore.  I get rides to work and back everyday.  My husband is leaving for hunting...

      RHMLucky777

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      I've been to doctors and they always write out prescriptions for different anxiety medicine that really doesn't work.  I've read several other posts on this site and some people take different vitamins like B-Complex, D, etc.  I really don't know what to do anymore.  I get rides to work and back everyday.  My husband is leaving for hunting in another week and I'm already nervous about driving to work and back by myself.  When I do drive, I take all side streets and try avoiding main roads.  When ever I get near an intersection I get so nervous and really feel like fainting.  I was thinking about getting into some type of support group.  Does anyone know of any?  I can't continue to rely on my family for rides everyday.  Sometimes even going to the corner grocery store takes everything out of me.    I never used to have these problems.  I drove everywhere, went everywhere and it never bothered me.  Now I feel like I can't do anything anymore.  I think it's some type of chemical imbalance, but don't really know.  I drove last week with my husband in the car.  I got on the freeway and only made it 1 mile and had to get off and have him take over.  I was shaking so bad.  I couldn't get to the exit fast enough - I thought I was going to black out.  I really need to find something that will help me get my life back.  If you find anything that works, please let me know.  And good luck to you!

  • Anonymous
    Wayne Pomanowski
    Jan. 31, 2009

     

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    RHMLucky777
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    I have been a v very careful driver. About three months ago a buck shot out of nowhere from the woods. My wife screamed and all I could see out of her passenger window were a set of antlers heading for her window. Within one second I turned the car 45 degrees into oncoming traffic. Lucky for me there was no one coming in the opposite direction. I hot the brake so hard the car stalled, the buck smashed full bore into the car, then collapsed on the e roadway. I coasted into an empty parking lot. The buck got up of the road, shook off his dizziness and sped into the woods. My car had a hug dent in the front tire area on the passenger side. I noticed shortly after the accident I had terrible anxiety when any car would pass me. I thought for sure the car was going to crash into me, yet my rational mind knew they would not. I hit an all time low mentally when a 76 year old man with handicapped plates passed me and gave me a shifty look. My approach to recover has been different. I realized soon that the instinctive, fight or flight mind is more powerful than the logical mind. So how did I recover. I knew the trick was to relax. As much of a thinking person as I am I could not think myself into relaxation.

    How do I now relax behind the wheel? I ran and ran until I was totally exhaused, I could barely stand. Truly a gunshot would have been mercy. Then I got behind the wheel totally relaxed, turned on the Sirus "Escape' channel and drove without anxiety. Extreme physical exertion is more powerful than the draining phobia .I cut out caffeine and the Afrin to keep my nose dry. Afrin was also making me jittery.

  • Anonymous
    stacy
    Oct. 30, 2008

    I also along with so many on this site have driving anxiety, so i can sympathise. I think ever since i was 16 i have always had it and then about a year ago my worst fear came true and i was hit by a car who failed to stop at a stop sign that he lived by. It took me a few months before i was able to feel somewhat comfortable to be able to drive again everyday...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I also along with so many on this site have driving anxiety, so i can sympathise. I think ever since i was 16 i have always had it and then about a year ago my worst fear came true and i was hit by a car who failed to stop at a stop sign that he lived by. It took me a few months before i was able to feel somewhat comfortable to be able to drive again everyday to go to school and drop my kids off at school. Staying at home and being an angoraphobe was no longer an option. I have tried several anti depression medications and despite their side effects i have found lexapro to be the most effective for my driving anxiety. I have only experienced one panic attack coming on and could not figure out the trigger but i was really glad it did not turn into a full panic attack. I am really glad i found this site and know that i am not alone in this. When i have mentioned my anxiety to family and friends they just don't understand or are not that sympathetic. I found this site searching for info for an english paper i need to write but i am only looking for statistics and solutions to the problem. Anyway the only advice i can offer or what seems to work for me is the lexapro for one, finding music/cd/mp3 player with your fav music to distract you to get your mind off focusing on the "what ifs" and if you have to drive alone, well that's better than not driving. I also say a prayer to myself before i drive and that also seems to calm me. My heart still races a bit when i see a car coming at me but i have to trust that it will stop like it should and that time will eventually help me feel better. I have also discovered the face your fear solution, where if you push yourself to drive it will help but if you stop all together and keep making excuses it will be that much harder when you have to start all over again. I wish i had some better solutions and in my search for info i will be happy to share anything new i find.

    Take care yall

    thanks a bunch

    • Anonymous
      Ryan
      Dec. 15, 2008

      i had a weird accident  a month ago where  ifainted behind the wheel thank god no one was hurt  i was fine 2 days after the accident now the doctors figure i fainted cause i had been  working too much but now a month later twice now i have felt  lightheaded and scared while driving  its weird  now  i drive for a living...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      i had a weird accident  a month ago where  ifainted behind the wheel thank god no one was hurt  i was fine 2 days after the accident now the doctors figure i fainted cause i had been  working too much but now a month later twice now i have felt  lightheaded and scared while driving  its weird  now  i drive for a living so i dont know what to  do   ?

  • Anonymous
    Snow
    Oct. 29, 2008

    Hi! I also have driving anxiety. I have always been a hypervigilant driver. Always worried about those driving around me. Always wanting to be in control. I have never been in an accident.

     

    I really don't know what started the whole thing. Maybe it had to do with childhood experiences, my dad at times would drive real fast and scare us. He would drive...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi! I also have driving anxiety. I have always been a hypervigilant driver. Always worried about those driving around me. Always wanting to be in control. I have never been in an accident.

     

    I really don't know what started the whole thing. Maybe it had to do with childhood experiences, my dad at times would drive real fast and scare us. He would drive fast over hills and tease us about what we couldn't see on the other side. My mom was always a great driver, a bit of a nervous driver, but a great driver.

     

    Lately I think it all started with an ear infection, I felt really lightheaded all of a sudden while driving. Sometimes I have no problem with driving, but for the past several months and on and off over the past few years I have had fear. I am terrified of hurting someone... I take the side roads to work, and a 20 minute drive on the highway becomes a 45 minute drive. I hate it.

     

    On the highway I feel trapped, like I can't get off if I need to. And forget bridges!!

     

    I also have three kids and I have a lot of driving responsibilites for after school activities. I am terrified of driving my kids around... I always feel fear that I will pass out or fall asleep while driving and hurt them. I know that this fear is irrational. I have never passed out while driving, but the anxiety causes me to feel dizzy and lightheaded when I least expect it and that is what I fear most. Then I feel surreal and I am no longer vigilant. So before I drive I end up being anxious about it and question myself. Did I get enough sleep? Am I properly hydrated? Sometimes I like the distraction of snow or rain because I am distracted from thinking about my fear. Not to mention that the other drivers are going as slow as I am. I hate feeling this way and I refuse to quit driving because it is absolutely necessary. I push myself to drive on the highway, some days are fine and others days I come to the point of almost having a panic attack. It bothers me especially because my oldest child can tell that I am nervous and she gets nervous and I don't want this for her. She is afraid sometimes that she will die while I am driving and I blame myself because I am the one who caused this fear in her. Driving is so totally exhausting, it wipes me out.

     

    I am totally fine when other people drive. But my husband hates being the only driver and with his work schedule this is not always possible. I am getting tired of taking the long way home. Any suggestions??

     

    Snow

     

     

     

    • Anonymous
      Pamela
      Feb. 19, 2009

      Wow, I could have written this exactly, except I do not have children. I can only imagine that making my anxiety so much worse.


      I get that feeling of being completely trapped on highways also. I HATE not having anywhere to go but forward, and that makes me feel very anxious. I'm the same with bridges. I need to drive places where I have somewhere else to go....

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Wow, I could have written this exactly, except I do not have children. I can only imagine that making my anxiety so much worse.


      I get that feeling of being completely trapped on highways also. I HATE not having anywhere to go but forward, and that makes me feel very anxious. I'm the same with bridges. I need to drive places where I have somewhere else to go. I used to be exactly like you are, just with highways, but within the past year or two it's developed into feeling that way at traffic lights. I absolutely cannot be a middle or left lane at a stopped light because I feel completely stuck and freak out and feel like I HAVE to move. Even being stopped in the right most lane scares me at times, too.

       

      Like you, there was also absolutely nothing that triggered my extreme anxiety. I was a fine driver up until around the time I went to college. I had very little highway driving experience previously (mainly because my parents wouldn't allow me to drive on highways because they were too dangerous...), which might contribute. I have never even been in an accident with another car while I was the driver (once I have as the passenger). I also continue driving.. because I have to. I don't live someplace where driving is avoidable. There are parts of my own town that I haven't even driven through myself in over a year though...

       

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      May. 12, 2009

      HI I LAUGHED AND CRIED WHEN I READ YOUR STORY. MINE IS EXACTLY THE SAME. BRIDGES, INTERSECTIONS, MAKING LEFT TURNS TRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE LANE, FEELING LIKE I AM FALLING ASLEEP OR FAINTING. HATE THE FWY. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING CRAZY. I COULD DRIVE ANY WHERE UP TO LAST YEAR WHEN I HAD MY VERY 1ST PANIC ON THE FWY. IT HAS BEEN A BATTLE EVER SINCE. HOW DO YOU GO...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      HI I LAUGHED AND CRIED WHEN I READ YOUR STORY. MINE IS EXACTLY THE SAME. BRIDGES, INTERSECTIONS, MAKING LEFT TURNS TRAPPED IN THE MIDDLE LANE, FEELING LIKE I AM FALLING ASLEEP OR FAINTING. HATE THE FWY. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING CRAZY. I COULD DRIVE ANY WHERE UP TO LAST YEAR WHEN I HAD MY VERY 1ST PANIC ON THE FWY. IT HAS BEEN A BATTLE EVER SINCE. HOW DO YOU GO FROM FINE TO THIS OVER NIGHT?? I WENT TO THERAPY BUT IT DID NOT HELP MUCH. IT IS JUST SO HELPFUL TO KNOW I AM NOT IMAGINING THIS AND YOU VALIDATED THAT FOR ME

      THANKS L.

  • Anonymous
    Penney Robinson
    Sep. 13, 2008

    I just discovered this web site.  I thought I was the only person feeling this way and thought I was totally LOSING IT!!!  I drive out of town to work ( 2 hours) and drive very early in the morning, before daylight and on the expressway.  I get MAJOR panic attacks....more and more frequently. Racing heart, sweaty palms, dizziness, etc....... When...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I just discovered this web site.  I thought I was the only person feeling this way and thought I was totally LOSING IT!!!  I drive out of town to work ( 2 hours) and drive very early in the morning, before daylight and on the expressway.  I get MAJOR panic attacks....more and more frequently. Racing heart, sweaty palms, dizziness, etc....... When I get near road construction and the lanes narrow, especially when there are barrels on the side of the road, I really freak out. Bridges are a problem too and FORGET driving in the rain!!!!! Semi-s whizzing by me do me in also!!  It got to the point, not long ago, that I pulled over and had to go to the ER.  I literally thought I was going to pass out while driving.  I almost caused several accidents by pulling over repeatedly, with very little notice to those behind me.  I felt that it was either do that, or pass out and kill myself or who knows who else along with me.  I was told, after extensive tests, that is was "only" a panic attack.  Well, ONLY a panic attack is pretty MAJOR, if you ask ME!!!!!!!

    I had an accident several years ago involving an 18 wheeler.  The truck whizzed by me, his draft lifted the trailer I was pulling and when the trailer came down, the pickup I was driving and the trailer were out of sync.  This caused me to swerve all over the road and to flip repeatedly, landing upside down on the guard rail, facing the opposite direction.  Airbags and seatbelts saved me and my husband.  But, ironically, the anxiety did not manifest right away.....it has taken several years.  I have been on Effexor( on and off.....OFF is NOT good!) and it helps, but still does not FIX the problem.  Does anyone have ANY answers?????????   I have seen a "shrink", but still get these attacks!!!!  It is dramatically affecting my life in that I no longer feel independent.  I feel that I have to have someone do the driving for me.  I really fear getting older and not being in control......HELP!

    • Anonymous
      C T
      Sep. 18, 2008

      I will start by saying that i'm really glad I found this web site, and for the people that gave their insight on the problem. I use to drive anywhere I wont'ed to. I had cow's and farmed at the time I had my first major attack. I guess the stress of trying to do it all by myself was to much. I cut some rice to take to another town to check it's moisture. I...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      I will start by saying that i'm really glad I found this web site, and for the people that gave their insight on the problem. I use to drive anywhere I wont'ed to. I had cow's and farmed at the time I had my first major attack. I guess the stress of trying to do it all by myself was to much. I cut some rice to take to another town to check it's moisture. I took out to town when the anxiety hit me. I could not make it to town and turned around and went home. I felt sick and thought I was going crazy. Thinking about it now I wish I would have went to the doctor right then. I finally went to the doctor later on, and so he put me on Paxil CR. It did'nt help me, and he put me on Effexor XR which did help some. I still drive but only around home never far off. I still avoid certain things like the interstate, bridges, mountians or anything that will make me sick. My wife dos'nt drive so I have to do all the driving. I have the feeling like I can't make it back home for some reason. I hope someone out their would please have some kind of information that would help me please. Thank you for any response.

    • Anonymous
      Frank Russo
      Oct. 14, 2008

      For many of you.... I have the EXACT same issues and would like to chat about them. I mean EXACT.. email me at FCISCOOL@AOL.com

    • Anonymous
      mooler
      Oct. 22, 2008

      I am always a cautious driver.  In fact I was terrified of getting my license at 16. I waited until I was 20.  I would have waited longer but most 20 year olds need to drive at some point.  The funny thing is I was so nervous to drive but once I got my license it seemed natural.  Im 27 now and I have had 2 major panic attacks while driving...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      I am always a cautious driver.  In fact I was terrified of getting my license at 16. I waited until I was 20.  I would have waited longer but most 20 year olds need to drive at some point.  The funny thing is I was so nervous to drive but once I got my license it seemed natural.  Im 27 now and I have had 2 major panic attacks while driving on the freeway.  The first time it happened there were alot of cars merging onto the freeway from the left and the right...it was overcast and the freeway was wet. I was getting a lot of spray from the other cars plus the double merging. I was headed to my brothers apartment about 2 hours away and i was 45 minutes into the trip.  I started mumbling things, my vision got crazy and I felt detached from my car...I yelled to my friend in the passenger seat.....IM FREAKING OUT!. He said "CALM DOWN!" As most of you know, when somebody says something its amplified but it sounds miles away.  I couldnt calm down.  I changed lanes to get over and stop on the shoulder. I crossed 3 lanes of traffic. I did this without looking in my mirrors. That is how much this panic has control over you. I never made it to the shoulder.  Traffic slowed because of construction and I made the trip ... still alive.  The 2nd panic attack was last month on a trip back from my buddies house about 3 hours away.  The trip there was fine. Made it there without a hitch, at night, with constuction...lane shifts..that sort of thing...

       

      However on the trip back on a sunday morning....the rain from a recent hurricane hit the midwest.  I was already freaking out about this and I asked my brother to drive.  He was doing just fine but I panicked from the passenger seat.  I thought he was following too close and just driving like a maniac. He is stubborn. I am cautious. If people are not going the speed limit or keeping a constant speed, he will draft them and speed around them. I told him to pull over and I would drive.  We werent even on the freeway yet.  He was pissed...but I said just do it (it was my car anyway) so he did.  About an hour later I was getting on the freeway (I-75) in torrential downpoars with lane shifts. I couldnt see a thing. I was going 65 with no construction and then boom!!!! LANE SHIFT -- two lanes CONCRETE WALLS on both sides..Speed limit was down to 45 so I kept it at 35...and that was too slow. Hummers, and Rigs, and Navigators oh MY!  They have the same lane widths as I do.  There is a reason they say Stay In Your Lane.  They didnt care. They passed me only to hit their brakes.  Everything looked like a blur. My wipers couldnt go fast enough. I couldnt see anybody behind me or next to me.  The rain was coming down that fast.  I made it through the lane shift and I found myself on a straight, even, freeway.  It was then that I started envisioning myself slamming through the barriers, spinning, flipping, crushing. I started to get really dizzy and I tried to fight it off.  I got this strange sensation that I wasnt real..like I was in a video game.  I tried opening the windows in the pouring rain...i tried turning the radio up and down, pinching myself to the point that it hurt, I tried talking to myself to calm me down. Nothing worked.  So I pulled over onto the shoulder...(this time i was in the right lane so I didnt have to cut across traffic) and tried to collect myself.  My brother said...HAHA let me drive like it was a joke.  I said "I will but I have to get off this freeway (I-75)" I pulled back onto 75 using everything I had because I couldnt see SH** and drove to the next exit, pulled into a McDonalds.....I was shaking so badly...my heart rate was 180 and i couldnt form a complete sentence. I got out of the car...it was still raining like crazy.  I walked aroud to the passenger door and I said, take the wheel.  My brother got me home safe and i should have let him drive in the first place.  Ever since that day, every time I try to drive...even on a side street...i get that feeling.

       

      Sorry for the story.  I just needed to say it

    • CleenToofs
      Oct. 22, 2008

      WOW!  I could FEEL the anxiety just reading your post!  Your symptoms are EXACTLY like mine!!  I have to drive on I-75 frequently between Chattanooga and Atlanta.  I live on CHA but work on ATL.  My husband has to drive me to ATL then fly home because I cannpt drive in the dark and anywhere there is construction I freak out.  Until...

      RHMLucky777

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      WOW!  I could FEEL the anxiety just reading your post!  Your symptoms are EXACTLY like mine!!  I have to drive on I-75 frequently between Chattanooga and Atlanta.  I live on CHA but work on ATL.  My husband has to drive me to ATL then fly home because I cannpt drive in the dark and anywhere there is construction I freak out.  Until recently, I have been sort of OK driving back in that it is daylight and the traffic is slow going through Atlanta.  Last week, however, I lost it on the way home and my husband had to come get me.  He and a friend had to go back to get my car the next day.  Now, he is having to fly to ATL to drive me home too!  I am looking to change jobs to avoid this situation.  That means giving up a lot...including quite a bit of income....BUT, I don't feel that I have a choice.  I have been to shrinks, have tried all sorts of meds (currently raking Effexor....not doing much  ) but nothing seems to work and it is getting worse.  I am glad to know that I am not alone but certainly do feel for all of you that are going through this same thing!!

    • Anonymous
      needtodrivebutcant
      Feb. 20, 2009

      Although you are dealing with a serious issue as I am, your experience had a good sense of humor to it.  I, too suffer from driving anxiety.  Don't know when it came on or why.  I used to drive perfectly fine without the anxiety I am presently experiencing.  I was always a cautious driver, obeying the speed limit and not changing lanes constantly. ...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Although you are dealing with a serious issue as I am, your experience had a good sense of humor to it.  I, too suffer from driving anxiety.  Don't know when it came on or why.  I used to drive perfectly fine without the anxiety I am presently experiencing.  I was always a cautious driver, obeying the speed limit and not changing lanes constantly.  I was never in an accident as a driver and only minor fender benders as a passenger.  I also used to be a good passenger as well but now I find myself not able to look at the road when someone else is driving.  I crouch down in the seat as a passenger and look up at the sky or close my eyes all together.  It's crazy and I feel totally embarrassed.  I want to cry sometimes myself when I think I have to make a trip and get on a highway/expressway, etc.  I am doing semi ok on local roads and trying to force myself to do some highway driving.  I don't mind traveling in snow or rain because I know the flow of traffic slows down and I can deal with that.  It's the high rate of speed that drives (excuse the pun) crazy.  I think I am taking into too much at once.  If there is a way to narrow the focus it might help with my anxiety.  I turn the music up and talk to myself as others have mentioned.  I keep saying no one wants to hit me and I will get to my destination safely but it seems like I slow down and that the trip takes even longer.  I dare to drive at 55mph because I think I will lose control of the care.  I feel like when I am on a turn that I won't make it and that the car will go out of control and I'll end up in another lane.  It's crazy. Whenever I need directions, I always put in avoid highways.  Yes, that takes you way out of your way but to me it's safer.  I had even thought that if I had a more reliable car it would take away the anxiety, well it helps but the anxiety is still very present.  I often think that the people driving around me and especially behind me wants me off the road.  They don't know I want off the road just as much as they do.  I used to psych myself up by following behind one vehicle for the length of my trip and just focus on that one particular vehicle.  It helped a lot but once that vehicel turned off before I reached my destination, I was in panic again.  I wish I could help you and you could help me but it seems like we have to keep trying to face the fear by getting out in traffic.

      need to drive but cant

    • rjmhec
      Dec. 31, 2010

      Of all the posts I've read on this site, I can relate to yours the most...mostly because my anxiety not only escalates when I drive, but also when I'm a passenger. Actually, it may be even worse as a passenger since I have NO control at all.  I always avoid four lane highways and would gladly take double the time to get to my destination by taking slower,...

      RHMLucky777

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      Of all the posts I've read on this site, I can relate to yours the most...mostly because my anxiety not only escalates when I drive, but also when I'm a passenger. Actually, it may be even worse as a passenger since I have NO control at all.  I always avoid four lane highways and would gladly take double the time to get to my destination by taking slower, smaller highways.  I have visions much like yours when I push the needle past 80kms, I always have someone driving right on my tail, I hate driving in the rain, snow or dark and avoid traveling if at all possible. It is really starting to limit what we do as a family. I've never been in an accident and I have absolutley NO idea where this came from.  I dream quite often about driving and my accelerator starts to speed up on it's own and I can't stop it and when I look at the speedometer I'm going at a crazy speed, then flip the car...and wake up. I attended some Cognitive Behaviour Therapy group sessions but I got the message loud and clear that I would have to face my fears and get out there- that's when I quit going. My husband and kids think I'm nuts.  I'm starting to wonder...

    • Anonymous
      spaceystacie
      May. 19, 2011

      Wow. I am really blown away with everything on this site. I thought I was alone in my anxiety with driving. Truly, I don't know if knowing there are so many of us out there with this same feeling or if that gets me down more because so many are suffering.

      I have no idea where the anxiety with driving really came from. I suspect that it is something that...

      RHMLucky777

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      Wow. I am really blown away with everything on this site. I thought I was alone in my anxiety with driving. Truly, I don't know if knowing there are so many of us out there with this same feeling or if that gets me down more because so many are suffering.

      I have no idea where the anxiety with driving really came from. I suspect that it is something that just hitched a ride on my Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety issues. I've always been high strung. Moving to a larger city with a much larger and faster moving population seems to have pushed all the buttons with my anxiety problems.

      I have had 2 anxiety / panic attacks since my move. One involved riding in a boat for the first time (something I did not want to do and was completely pressured into doing). The other involved being the passenger in a car. Both times I had the completely irrational fear that I was going to die. I couldn't move and could only shake and cry. It was terrifying. I was SO EMBARASSED!!! Being a control freak coupled with the fact that I could not control myself at all bothered me more than anything. I do not want to be embarassed like that ever again. In both instances the person I was with yelled at me and became very angry with me and ridiculed me. This person thought I was playing around and did not take what was happening to me seriously. They also did not assist me or try to do anything at all to make it better. In fact, their behavior made it worse.

      I need to find a way to reclaim my personal space, my routine and my comfort zone.

      Good luck to everyone dealing with this. I am very glad that there is a place like this for us to express ourselves and not be ridiculed for what has been happening to us. It's nice to find a place of support. 

  • Anonymous
    jeff
    May. 04, 2008

    hey man,

     

    check out www.driver-rehab.com

     

    you're not alone.  this is the company i work for---i specialize in treating driving/passenger/pedestrian anxiety resulting usually from traumatic car collisions.  i suggest you talk to one of your local Psychologists to find someone who can help you out.  "systematic desensitization" is your...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    hey man,

     

    check out www.driver-rehab.com

     

    you're not alone.  this is the company i work for---i specialize in treating driving/passenger/pedestrian anxiety resulting usually from traumatic car collisions.  i suggest you talk to one of your local Psychologists to find someone who can help you out.  "systematic desensitization" is your best bet.  with a good therapist you've got about a 90%+ success rate.

     

    good luck,

    jeff

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Oct. 04, 2009

      Do they have some type of support groups?  I cannot believe how many people have this problem.  I just want my normal life back.  It's been over 2 years and I'm afraid this will never go away.

       

      Thanks for the website.

    • Anonymous
      slguy
      Mar. 16, 2012

      what if you are just scared sometimes terrified to get in the drivers seat or the car peroid? (And you have clue why)No crashes or anything that i can remember...I have always had this fear for as long as i can remember though. I am 25 yrs old and i have never had my drivers license. I have drove before but very short distances....Is there anything...

      RHMLucky777

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      what if you are just scared sometimes terrified to get in the drivers seat or the car peroid? (And you have clue why)No crashes or anything that i can remember...I have always had this fear for as long as i can remember though. I am 25 yrs old and i have never had my drivers license. I have drove before but very short distances....Is there anything that can help???

  • Anonymous
    ScaredinWinter
    Feb. 10, 2008

    I thought I was crazy until I read someone else's fear about this. I have this fear of driving in the snow. It only occurs in the winter time. I start feeling the anxiety in November knowing that driving in the snow is ahead. Then I stop the anxiety in March, when the snow stops here. During the winter I check the weather everyday and when snow is predicted...

    RHMLucky777

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    I thought I was crazy until I read someone else's fear about this. I have this fear of driving in the snow. It only occurs in the winter time. I start feeling the anxiety in November knowing that driving in the snow is ahead. Then I stop the anxiety in March, when the snow stops here. During the winter I check the weather everyday and when snow is predicted I start feeling anxious. When a winter storm is predicted the sensation is strong. I have been dealing with this for 3 years. I never drove in the snow before that time and I had always used public transportation so I never worried about it. Now I commute about 18 miles to work and I dread and hate the winter. I have never had an accident, but my fear is that I will have an accident and I see my car sliding all over the place. When I have to drive in the snow I feel like I want to lose control. I feel like vomiting, like I want to faint. I want to cry and just sometimes I shout out in anger in the car because it is the only way I can deal with the situation. If I visualize driving in snow, I can get the same symptoms. I want to quit my job now and find something closer so I don't have to face this. I like my job and I don't want to leave it but I am tired of going through this every year. I can't take the train to my job because I am intersuburb. There is no one in my office who lives where I live I could ride with. I am embarrased about this. I try to take vacation days when it snows, and I know everyone at work knows about it. This year has been especially bad as it has been so snowy. Can anyone make any recommendations. My only option seems to be meds to control the anticipatory response and also the anxiety I feel when I am in the situation. Thanks

    • Anonymous
      erin
      Mar. 12, 2009

      I also have this problem, I think it's the worst in the winter, however sometimes it's bad even during other times. I think my anxiety is bad because I think about everything that is bothering me when I drive, plus I'm a nervous driver. The doctor started by having me take Xanex when I felt anxious but most of the time by the time I realize I need to take its...

      RHMLucky777

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      I also have this problem, I think it's the worst in the winter, however sometimes it's bad even during other times. I think my anxiety is bad because I think about everything that is bothering me when I drive, plus I'm a nervous driver. The doctor started by having me take Xanex when I felt anxious but most of the time by the time I realize I need to take its too late. Since then I have been on citilopram (generic for celexa). It has helped tremendously, but it's an anti-depressant, so it does have it's side effects.

  • Anonymous
    nurse18
    Feb. 04, 2008
    i also have a driving anxiety on december 1st 2007 i hit a sheet of black ice and rolled my yukon i had my daughter, niece, mom and dad in the car with me and all i can think of was i could of killed some one. now when i drive on the snow wet pavment fog i freak out and have a panic attack my body feels numb vision gets blurry get a lump in the back of...
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    i also have a driving anxiety on december 1st 2007 i hit a sheet of black ice and rolled my yukon i had my daughter, niece, mom and dad in the car with me and all i can think of was i could of killed some one. now when i drive on the snow wet pavment fog i freak out and have a panic attack my body feels numb vision gets blurry get a lump in the back of my throat and can't swallow and cry and shake  i don't know what to do about i                                     nurse18
  • Anonymous
    M
    Feb. 04, 2008
    I also have driving anxiety! Mine is not quite as bad as yours I don't think however... I think mine is related to the fact that growing up both of my parents were very nervous people and nervous drivers. My mother would always avoid any highways because the "big-rigs" made her so nervous. My anxiety manifests as visions of crashing for no reason....
    RHMLucky777
    Read More
    I also have driving anxiety! Mine is not quite as bad as yours I don't think however... I think mine is related to the fact that growing up both of my parents were very nervous people and nervous drivers. My mother would always avoid any highways because the "big-rigs" made her so nervous. My anxiety manifests as visions of crashing for no reason. I also have tons of dreams where I'm driving a car when I realize I have no brakes! Freaks me out even after waking. I was on Effexor for a while and it helped my anxiety but I decided I didn't want to take it anymore and now that I'm off of it (which was VERY hard-Effexor has absurd side-effects when you wean off of it) my anxiety has come back full force. Still trying to figure out what to do. Trying Xanax right now but it makes me pass out cold sometimes (even at the lowest dose possible) and given the fact that I'm a stay-at-homer with 2 young kids that just doesn't work for me! If you (or anyone else reading this) has any suggestions please let me know! Good luck to you with your driving and I know you will find something that works for you eventually (although I DO NOT recommend Effexor...I hope they don't sue me for saying that!)  :-)

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