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Situational Anxiety/Anxiety while driving.
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Situational Anxiety/Anxiety while driving.

I don't know if this is even a legitimate problem area, but I'm having problems with anxiety while driving in my car.  It's getting to the point where I'm afraid one day that I won't be able to even get into the thing.  My Dr has had me on Prozac and Celexa but I'm now off of both due to the bad side effects I was having.  I go back again on the 17th of this month to see what else they'll prescribe.  Anyone else have this "phobia"?  Thx, Thom.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi.  Yes, it's a legitimate problem.  I also have that issue.  I absolutely can't stand driving anymore.  I get in the car and then if there's the least bit of traffic I start become ill. I suffer from anxiety and panic.  I have been since 2002.  I thought it was under control, but it seems to have resurfaced.  I've been on celexa, xanax, welbutrin, klonopin, and who knows what else.  I had to come off most of those due to side effects.  They say no addictions to any of them, but I swear I felt like a drug adict coming off the last one that I took.  I felt like I was in withdrawl (withdrawal), couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.  I haven't been on meds for a while and have been debating going back to see a doctor and getting back on them because things are so bad right now for me.  But, I do generally know what you are going through with the situation with the car.  You are definately not alone.  I will keep you in my prayers.  
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Avatar_n_tn
I suffer from agoraphobia now. I used too, and still have panic attacks. I have had the same exact problem as you are going through now. I thought that I was going to pass out while driving, because I was so scared.... of course I would only have these attacks when I felt pressured. example (when someone else is in the car, I would panic because I couldnt pull over because they would wonder what the hell I was doing. The best advice I can give you is dont stop driving! find a place that isn't over populated, so if you need to you can pull over and relax. do whatever makes you feel comfortable! I dont know if your the same as I am, but you should let people know how you feel when driving so you dont have to worry about them wondering why you would all of a sudden pull over, or whatever you do when you are in that situation. I was in the same boat as you, and I overcame that fear by keeping at it! You must keep at it and you will feel better. ---- I can't get into a car when someone else is driving because I dont have control of the car. I know how it feels to be in your situation trust me.... You have to do it for yourself, or you will get worse. Take it from someone who has been there, and is there!
I sincerly hope you overcome this phobia.
Jordan Malyon
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Avatar_n_tn
I know this bulletin was posted like a million years ago, but I just saw it and I just had this problem not that long ago, so I thought I should say something about it. I've been in a lot of car wrecks and have been dealing with anxiety a lot and I became scared of driving, or pretty much being in a car at all. I dont know if you've been in lots of car wrecks or not, but I figured this advice might help you either way... anywayz, I used to be able to drive through rush hour traffic on the freeway all super fast all the time, and then next thing i know, I'm crying if I'm simply in the car with someone driving 35mph. But the first thing I did, was tell myself  "I AM NOT GOING TO LET THIS CONTROL MY LIFE. THIS IS REDICULOUS." Then I realized that they only way to get over it, is to go back to step 1 of driving.

1: say this is rediculous, im not going to let this control my life, worrying about this is a waste of my time and energy.

2: get in the car, and just do something small like drive around the block, or simply a few neighborhood streets. Do this until you feel comfortable. While you're in the car, realize what you're doing. What are you thinking about? Are you all tensed up? Are you making yourself hyperventilate? What are you REALLY scared of here? Some things that might make you feel better: a) I put a box of crackers and a bottle of water in my car with me. This way should for some reason I have a crazy full blown panic attack, or pass out or something, I know I have some nourishment. b) realize that this is only scary because you're making it scary. STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. find something else to think about. (I know its hard, but keep trying.) i know this will sound stupid but think of stuff that is good, like bunnies on clouds or sheep in the meadow, it does help. also rationalize with yourself, like, nothing bad is going to happen to me, should I crash chances are extremely good that im going to live, i already know how to drive, etc. And if you really are panicking do something to avert your mind. Like, blast the air conditioner on your self, put one arm in the air where its uncomfortable, blast the music in the car, something that annoys you so you think of that instead. Something also that is calming, would be (at least for me) one of those propel fitness waters with the twisty cap, those are nice cuz you can kind of suck on it like a bottle and then its soothing and a little calming while in the car, i dont know why, just is.... also, are you super tensed up? realize it and relax your muscles, breathe deep and slow, keep repeating "im ok, im ok, im ok"

3: just go around the block and whatnot, and after you get comfortable, go a little further and a little further and a little further. everytime you get done, say "ok see? I just did that and I'm still alive. I'm perfectly fine, nothing's wrong. there's nothing to be scared of but my own self. i can do this."

4: eventually go on the freeway and get off the first exit. congratulate yourself. then go a little further and a little further so on and so on. and if you go 35mph on the freeway who cares? put your blinkers on. the point is that you got on the freeway, go you! and screw everyone else.

5: if youre in the car with other people and they're scaring you half to death, put on your seatbelt ACCEPT that you ARE GOING TO LIVE and just GIVE IN. if they brake to hard or fast dont jump and be scared just say "here we go were crashing,... and let it happen." then when you realize you are still alive and haven't crashed or anything, you will start to make a breakthrough.

6: you will only be scared as long as you let yourself be scared.

i dont know if this helps you at all, but it really helped me :) now I can drive on the freeway and everything again. Still not going super long distances, but I'm working on it!! :P
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Met with my Dr yesterday and am now on Buspar.  The decision is to treat the anxiety first then add an anti-depressant if needed.  Just started the med today and am not having any serious side-effects just yet.  Will update in a few more days.  Thom.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank You sooooooooo much.  I am going to try your suggestions.  I to, used to be able to drive the freeway like a crazy person.  I actually LOVED the freeway & driving itself now I fear it everyday.  I take back roads to work & have not driven the xpressway in a year but I want to so bad.  I try to tell myself that this is NOT going to control me & some days are good & I feel like I can drive forever...but most days are a real challenge.  I have trouble at stop lights....I feel nervous until it turns green & if I have to make a left turn & I am out in the middle of the intersection, I shake sometimes.   I have never been in an accident, I think my fear is the fear of a panic attack.  I know I can drive I've been doing it for 20 years.  When I get home my neck & shoulders just ache from being so tense & I try really hard to relax but it just does not work sometimes.  It's very frustrating !!!!  I am now taking some medicine & I was hoping it would be a "miracle" cure & I would be back to normal driving but so far it only seems to work for my social anxiety & not always for that either.  I really hate pills & don't believe in taking meds but I was desperate.  The really weird thing is that about 4 months ago (before meds) I felt like I was cured..I even started doing what you said on the freeway.  I'd get on & drive to the first exit & than the next day I'd go to the next exit.  Than all of a sudden one day I had a bad panic attack for no reason & I felt like I needed to pull over (but I didn't) after that it's been worse than ever. I will try anything anybody has to offer.  Thank You for your advice !   I'm going to start on my way home from work today.   Let's hope something helps.
Have a Great Day !!
kzmogrl
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Avatar_n_tn
My issue of driving on the freeway started gradually in late 2000.  It originally felt like I was in the fog (brain fog).  I would just keep driving until the feeling went away. Eventually I developed a fear of driving on the freeway because I didn't trust the foggy feeling and the lack of safety it gave me. I sought a psychologist and neurologist (brain tests) as well as neurology chiropractor.  The psycholost said it was not a phobia. The neurologist said there was nothing wrong with my brain.  The chiropractor said it has to do with my eyes being over stimulated. He termed it a vestibular disorder. No matter what they call it (or don't) I still have the fear of driving on the freeway.  The feeling that I get while driving on the freeway or when a passenger on the freeway is that of someone having a glass of wine on an empty stomach (sleepy, spinning and disassociated from my body).  It feels like everything is moving too fast for my eyes to my brain.  I was on antidepressants for several years but no longer since they didn't work. Now I have not driven a car on the freeway since 2005. I can drive in my local town but not any further. Even sometimes when I drive too far on our main street I have to try to focus and keep awake.  I wish I new if this is a phobia or some other brain malfunction for sure.  Maybe some of you have these other symptoms (sleepy driving, brain fog driving) I mention.

valley fog
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Avatar_n_tn
i have a hard time riding in the car with anyone ..  even more with people i dont ride with often ..  but i also feel this way when i drive .. unless im in light traffic  but the heavier the traffic gets  the harder it is for me to breathe and i sweat my heart feels like its gonna explode  .. its a very uneasy feeling   but this all started .. after a road raged idiot .. and his  strung out friends chased me home one night and there was a huge fight and death threats .. i later found out .. that the guy who was drivin just got of  prison  for murder .. but ever since then .. i have like panic attacks .. in the car i will cry .. shake everything .. i hate  it .. is this what all of you or some of you expeirence
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Avatar_f_tn
Funny, my license plates say dizzy - lol!
I have a hard time driving too, this is common with anxiety. I actually stopped driving about 2 months ago after I felt like I was going to pass out. Now I drive little bits here and there, I am trying and it will get better!
After your experience, it is easy to see why you would get worked up in the car, but it wasn't driving that did it to you, it was the experience, a freak one at that, chances are 1 in a million that it would happen again. You have to expose yourself to driving again, like other said, over and over until you feel comfortable.
I am here to talk if you want, as are others, we are all experiencing the same stuff!
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Avatar_n_tn
I recently became scared of driving.  Not even a week ago, I had what I think was a panic attack, and had to pull over on my way to work.  I was only five miles away and had driven close to twenty when I started to get stomach cramps and feel clamy and scared outta my witts.  I felt like I was going to pass out.  I have a doctor appt tomorrow, but I know that I need to get myself back on the road sooner than later because of school and work being half an hour apart from each other.  Ive got a month left for school, and want to keep working at my job, seeing as how its getting harder to request any time off whatsoever.  I had never called in sick in the three years I have been working there, and last thursday was the first time.  My dad ended up having to pick me up from the place I pulled over and take me home because I was just emotional and scared all at the same time. Ive never had a fear of driving, but now I cant drive more than five miles before I start to get those same feelings again.  Any suggestions as to how to get over this? Im only twenty years old and had I have been driving for 5 years now.  HELP ME PLEASE! :-(
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I too get anxiety while driving the car. My heart starts to race, I shake inside and my face starts to turn red and get real hot. Well, welcome to the world of having a panic attack while driving. It helps for me to have a bag of distractions. I play my favorite music and sing allong, also if you have a special occasion coming up or a special project that you can think about helps me. The first thing I do is recognize that it is anxiety and I am ok and it will soon pass. Believe me I have pulled off a few times to get back my bearings. It helps when I have someone riding with me so I can talk with them. I did not understand my anxiety until I went to therapy. Therapy has really made me get a better understanding of my anxiety world. I just keep getting in the car and driving except in bad weather conditions then I just want to be grounded. Good luck to you. Let us know how it goes.

Take Care
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Avatar_m_tn
I am sorry you had to experience this!

My first panic attack came when I was stuck in the interstate in rush hour traffic 2 1/2 years ago, and there was no place for me to get off!  It is absolutely terrifying and I know just how you feel.  I was lucky enough that my brain connected this terrifying experience with TRAFFIC rather than driving, so I am able to drive to most places, but get terrible panic when I hit traffic (or sometimes just THINK about traffic).  Actually it is also associated with being in places where I feel there is no escape.  It really did throw me for a loop.

What YOU need to do is find a way to keep driving, to retrain yourself that driving is COMPLETELY SAFE and that you are in no danger simply doing the act of driving.  The longer you let your fear dictate your behavior, the harder it will be to "fix".  It starts with baby steps, driving around the block etc.  You should definitely look into getting a book on exposure therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy, or maybe just on panic attacks in general.
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Avatar_n_tn
From: Valley Fog

Since my last post in November 2007 my new doctor has determined that I am very B-12 deficient which is causing my problems driving on the freeway. So far I have had two of the monthly B-12 injections.  She promises I will be driving on the freeway in six months from my first injection. So far I don't feel any different, still dizzy, brain fog, etc. I will let you all know how it works out in a few more months.
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow, I'm surprised that I'm not alone with this!  I had my first panic attack almost 4 years ago while driving on a major highway that was under construction.  I got stuck in one of the cattle shoots that ran for a mile and it was the longest mile of my life!  I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest, my head was spinning, I felt like I was going to throw up and I couldn't wait to get off the highway!  My second attack happened in my doctors office, right in front of him.  I was so embarassed!  I'm on Paxil now and doing pretty welln and take ativan on occasion.  I've had a handful of them since then, but I'm making progress.

I've done well driving on the highway now by myself, but not with someone else because I'm always afraid that I'll have an attack in front of them and they'll think I'm nuts!  This week my mother had to go to the doctors and I was the only one who could take her.  I started to feel a little nervous, but my mom needed me and we made it without a hitch and I didn't have an attack in the car.  I did feel a little funny in the doctors office, but I told myself to "knock it off" and I did well.

Whatever happens, remember that you are in control!  I think that is the biggest thing that I've learned when I feel one coming on.  I tell myself that I'm okay and in control and remember to breathe!

Hang in there all!
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Avatar_f_tn
I, too, have a driving phobia.  Of course, I have agoraphobia too.  Can't seem to drive on freeways or bridges.  Have to take 2 mg of xanex to cross a 17 mile bridge.  Sometimes I can drive on freeways with just 1 mg of xanex.  I'm starting to accept I will just have to be addicted to xanex forever.
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   When I started to feel anxious while driving I wondered if I was going nuts. It was quite a comfort to know that I was not alone.Went to the psychiatrist, got on paxil but did not like it. Did not feel like myself and it affected my sex life. Also it seem to make me anxious more often but I didn't seem to mind the anxious feeling.Then got gabapentin made me anxious most of the time while driving so I am quitting that. I think I am going to go back to just thinking good thoughts while I am driving which helps, also distractions do help me, but be careful because I got a speeding ticket on the way to Monterey while admiring the scenery. I have only had severe anxiety attacks a couple of times ever, but one is too many.
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I get anxiety in the car too, but probably not for the same reasons as you.  I get it because I am leaving my safe zone (home).  And i'm not sure if I would be able to make it back in time.  Goes hand in hand with my agoraphobia.  I'm not afraid of the driving bit at all.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Well i saw the Neurologist  and he was a asian type chap who dident speak very good english and i found it very hard to make him understand my problem.
In the end he decided to send me for more scans and told me it was probably migrains and absents which i doubt very much.
My local gp put me on simvastatin  and my fuzzy head problem as improved and im having fewer episodes/brainfog.
Im doing ok driving at the moment but feel a bit stressed if driving on roads i dont usually drive on.
Going to get a satnav to help me with this.
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Avatar_m_tn
Going for a EEG scan in June.
Definately not having absents.
Thinking of giving up on trying to sort it out and just trying to live with it.!
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Avatar_n_tn
So back in March I had the worst experience of my life, which was a panic attack while driving.  It stopped me from driving for a while, and I felt helpless and alone. I just wanted to thank you all for helping me turn myself around, because I now am driving again, and have made it as far as 200 miles away from home with out the frequent pulling over to freak myself out.  Thanks for all the support, this community posting really did help me.  :-) If anyone has any questions, I would be glad to answer them in relating to my experience.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi
I had saved this page last year and decided to check in to see if this thread is still going. I started having problems driving on the freeway in May of 2007, it would come and go and there was a definite pattern as pertains to my monthly cycle. A couple of days before my period, during and about a week after I couldnt stay on the freeway, I kept trying to get on but would start to freak out and have to get off, then later on in my cycle I was ok, but since January of 08 I have only attempted to get on a handful of times, it just became too much to deal with, also there were times when driving on the streets made me feel very disoriented (especially if I had to go down a hill). Those episodes only lasted a couple of days fortunately and then I would feel comfortable driving on the streets again.
A couple of my family members had similar experiences and the common thread with us is that it started in perimenopause (a few friends told me of their mother's having the same experience in their 40's and I have 2 friends in their 40s who have stopped driving altogether). I am certain there is a hormonal aspect to this, and I also feel that I may have some sort of balance, inner ear and possibly visual disturbance going on (I have choroidopathy in my left eye-its basically a spot that makes straight lines look distorted  when I am looking thru that eye) I was put on anti anxiety meds for the driving but when I realized that I am in perimenopause I stopped taking anti anxiety meds. I am trying to find a dr with reasonable rates to try some natural hormone replacement therapy to see if that will help (insurance doesnt cover it). I am curious how many of the people that posted here are female and over 35 and possibly peri menopausal.
I tried all of the distractions (I was counting white cars, black cars, singing loudly, even screaming to release stress) but none of that stuff worked for very long. I even quit my job because it was too far and I was spending 3 hrs a day in my car (taking streets instead of the freeway) which was stressing me out more. I used to drive 80+ mph in the fast lane going to work everyday and loved taking road trips but now I can't really go to other towns unless there is a streets only route. I hate living this way.
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Avatar_m_tn
Well its september now and ive been on simvasatins for about  4 or 5 months and im feeling better and coping more.
I still have the odd episode but im driving and feeling less anxious.
It will be intersting how i fare during the dark winter months.
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Avatar_f_tn
My anxiety is centered around driving. In fact, most of my time/anxiety is spent trying to figire out ways to NOT to drive, i.e., stay at my mom's, lots of things. I definately spend more time driving than others because I take side streets and avoid major roads and freeways. It ***** and my anxiety spikes really high in the morning thinking about the day ahead. Trouble is, I drive for a living inspecting houses so I kind of have to! In the winter, I got so bad that my husband had to drive me to do my jobs and take the kids to school, etc. I sucked! The more I didn't drive, the more foreign it became to me and to worse it was. But I am driving now, longer distances and more major roads, but I am still not where I want to be.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there!  I have had attacks sneak up on me while driving as well.  It is the hardest when my kids are in the car with me.  I know what you are going through!  I have noticed that as these attacks get more frequent that my tolerance/patience seems to be severley lacking.  Like people cutting you off or just having no commen sense on the freeway, that kind of thing.  Then the attack just out of nowhere hits me and I have to pull over.  At that point I have to tell my kids no talking and turn off the radio.  It can be scary to them but even their voices chattering away can make my symptoms worse.  I too have decided to take the back roads to work some mornings, simply because the thought of the freeway is too much.  I live in the NW so the weather in the fall and winter can be wet and sometimes tretcherous.  I refuse to stop driving and will not give up any freedoms.  My mom is afraid of everything and I had always thought she was just uptight.  Not anymore.  But I am not going to give up and let these feeling take over my life like she has.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Just checking in to see how those with the driving issues are doing and what spicyd found out. I am perimenopausal and these issues also happened to my mom during the same time. I am driving, if I have to, but really dread it and struggle all day because of it.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am almost 25 years old. About 3 months ago, i was driving on the highway, and all of a sudden i felt like i was loosing control of myself and my mind. i was scared for my life for no reason at all. there was some traffic but i had driven this route over 1,000 times and knew it well.I had to pull over at the closest exit and while i did i was shaking and crying. I barely made it back on and was only going about 35mph in a zone for 55mph. i had to take backroads home.

after this situation, i started to feel okay to drive on the highway during the day light, but in the evening i cant. i feel like i'm on a roller coaster, the feeling you get right before your about to fall. i can drive on side roads at night. roads that are quiet. i have developed anxiety from this in a horrible way. i am always thinking the worst is going to happen. i have let it take over my mind, and it's terrifying. i have a good life. i am fortunate to have a wonderful understanding boyfriend. i don't want my constant state of fear to scare him from me.

any suggestions about my phobia? any advice would be helpful - thanks.
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Avatar_n_tn
It's encouraging to see how many other people have experienced what I am going through. Fourteen years ago I had a full blown panic attack on the way to my doctor's office. All the symptoms described here. They put me on meds which I hated and was on hem for a number of years. I have taken nothing for 4 years now and use exercise as I always have. This week, while on a business trip in Cleveland it all came back full force. I had a rental car with me and had a 9 hour drive home to Vermont today. Well, that turned into 13 hours included 3 separate events where I thought, "how the hell will I get the rental car back??" It is so frustrating. Heck, I used to be a cab driver and I have driven cross country at least 5-6 times. I love to drive. Now, this. Everything in my life has really calmed down the last few years and I am very happy. So why is this happening?
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Avatar_f_tn
I am also amazed at how many others have this fear.  Part of my fesr is not feeling well behind the wheel.  But, a large part of it is being nervous about getting lost.  I have GPS and I still worry.  I have to do a drive 100 times before I feel comfrtable doing it alone.  I have it all mapped out in my head before I do it.  I hate that it is limiting me.  I live inthe suburbs now and do not have any problems driving short distances.  I am not anxious about my driving skills, I am anxious about having a possible panic attack and being lost somewhere.  The rational part of me says, that I will find my way and everything will be OK but I cannot understand that - it sounds like such a nightmare to me that I will avoid it all together.  I feel comfrtable as long as I have someone inthe car with me, but would not do it alone.  I'm OK on short trips - 20 minutes or even a little longer but it has to be very familiar to me.  If I never did it or did it only a few times, I freak out.  I hate it and really need to work on this!  I like the suggestion of driving on a highway for one exit and gradually moving on to the next one.  I think that would be somewhat helpful.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Im 23 years old and i have been having this driving thing happen since december 2007. I had been in a real bad car wreck  that previous august and had been in a violent relationship for a while. The person I was with had stabbed me (while in the car) and had punched me, and jerked the wheel while I was driving on numerous occations. After I ended the relationship in nov. 2007 I began to have these spells while driving. I get fidgity, Thirsty, impatient, I feel out of my head, sleepy and I want to pull over. I remember my mom had to come pick me up one evening because I was so bad. I even went to the emergency room. I feel like im going to pass out or loose control. I DON'T want to go on meds because most of the ones they put you on are habit forming. I went to two diffrent herbalist one gave me theinine and the other inositol. The inositol works great but does not completly help. Is there anything that will just make it go away ? I have ready books, I have had accupuncture,  I get weekly massages, I drink tons of water, I take herbs but nothing gets rid of it. Im desperate I can't live my life avoiding freeways, driving my car, putting off people, and riding public transit for 2 hrs to get somewhere that i could drive to in 30 min. I think this is great hearing from people who have the same thing as me. I don't feel as alone about it. Does anyone hae a suggestion?        
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Avatar_n_tn
I know this was an old thread, but I am curious about what you mentioned about permenopausal. What you described is me to a T! Except I'm only 28. I  do think there is some connection with the lack of estrogen though. My anxiety started right after stopping breastfeeding each of my children. Now, with my body having changed after 2 pregnancies I find that each cycle when the estrogen would typically drop (same as you have described) I suffer from these attacks worse than normal. I also have the exact same problems with driving. I also have been treated for what they assumed was a middle ear calcification. Just wondering if you found anything further on this?
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Avatar_f_tn
I just found this thread and I had to reply because I'm having the same problem now! I recently had an episode where I was driving to school and suddenly started feeling really light-headed, dizzy and disoriented. I felt like I was blacking out, but I somehow made it to school and parked. I obviously didn't go to class like this, and I ended up having my mother pick me up and leaving my car at school. Ever since then, I've been unable to drive comfortably for long distances, especially outside my town (or even my neighborhood). I used to LOVE driving, it was like an escape for me, and I have a somewhat sporty car so I loved going for long cruises on the highway. The weirdest thing now, is that I'm able to drive my mother's car with her in it, and sometimes even my own car with other people in it, but I CANNOT drive alone. But it's not like this everyday. I think I'm coming into the situation that some of you are in, and I'm trying hard not to end up permanantly unable to drive my car. I know that it's the nervousness of getting panicy while driving that brings on the light-headedness.. I try deep breaths while driving but that makes me even more light-headed! My next step tomorrow is a book on CD that I'll try listening to while driving to distract me. Being on the phone (even though it's not the best idea) helps me while driving too because it distracts me from any anxiety. It's definitely a good idea to never give up on driving and to keep at it so that it has less of a chance of becoming a problem. It was good to see I'm not alone on this and that it is a real problem that other people have too. I know it's a year later than the last comment, but hopefully some of you might get this comment and  be able to reply with your progress/suggestions and/or and other comments! Hope everyone is doing well and has had success in driving since their last post :o)
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Avatar_m_tn
man I feel what all of you folks are saying , I've been dealing with this  for years now. and again before all this I use to love to drive I drove trucks as a job in the past and the longer my stops were the more I loved my day , but not anymore. I didn't see anyone  say if they drink or  smoke pot  etc thou, hangovers and not  good sleep will bring these on , I use to party almost everynight  and I did blame  that , but lately I haven't been and  I still feel the  same and  I still freak out while driving  , going to dentist , barber shop , any were I feel contained . red lights I try to beat when there yellow , if I see a traffic  jam up ahead I take a exit  before it , { sounds  familiar i bet } I'd  be  at a red light  and  actually got  out of my car to stretch and  instantly they would  go away. big bridges omg tight tunnels not good.back roads no problem. I feel like  when they come on that I was shot  up with every drug in the  world  for a minute or  so then as soon as I start moving  again they clear up.one day I took my dad to a doctors , driving  there  ******, but what I did  while  he  was in the  doctors  I walked around the  parking  lot to get my heart rate going and to get my blood flowing  , on ride home I felt  like singing, it kinda took me out of that fog groggy feeling so best of luck all
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I too have bad anxiety while driving on freeways, especially tight ones, and bridges.  Bridges are the worst.  During my attacks I have a nervous cough.  I too feel dizzy, like I am going to pass out, check my pulse, feel like it is too high and that I am going to have a heart attack.

Here in Houston, I call the freeways the "concrete jungle".  We have exits and overpasses that are like 16 stories high and are only one lane.  This really freaks me out.  Tight bridges that are only one lane over water are my worst fear.  I got an attack at the beginning of a 25 mile bridge over the swamps of Louisianna and couldn't pull over because there wasn't a shoulder.  To make it worse, my wife was sitting shotgun and couldn't switch with me as a driver.  When she senses that I am getting an attach, she now just asks me to pull over and we switch.  I'm thinking of trying anti-anxiety meds again.  I have tried Effexor and Xanex on occasion.  I think Xanex really does help, but would like to find something that is preventative.  Really glad to hear other people with the same problems here.

I have heard that this phobia is common with "smart people".  I really think it is a case of overthinking things and thinking bad thoughts at the wrong time.  We need to find a way to think "only" happy thoughts.

Please keep up with this helpful forum!

Marc
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I guess its nice to see I am not the only crazy one.  I have not driven on the freeway in months because about half a year ago I started getting panic attacks while driving on it.  I get the sweaty palms and a horrible feeling that I am going to pass out, crash and die, and maybe even have a heart attack.  I also feel like I can't take deep breaths.  I over-analyze everything such as my pulse, funny feelings in my arms, my eyesight blurring, etc.  I went to a few doctors and they told me I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.  They prescribed me pills to take but I quit them all because they all cause horrible sexual side effects that just create more problems.  It saddens me that I cannot drive on the freeway into the city because I am a recent college graduate trying to find a job and I am limited to jobs that are less than 5 miles from my house.  I feel like if someone is with me in the car, I would be fine to drive on the freeway.  The attacks always happen when I am alone.  I am now trying yoga and eating healthier, and of course praying.  I don't know what else to do.
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I had my first panic attack at the age of 18 years old and now i am 34. I have been fighting this battle for a very long time and i am so tired of it. I get on the freeway and  get anxiety every time. Traffic scares the hell out of me because you start getting that feeling of being trapped and know where to go. When i take a small road trip (a few hours or so) i take a .50mg of xanax and sometime i need to take two if one does not help. Once it kicks in though you will feel a little out of it, but coherent. It has helped me alot. I find this comdedic, but i can take airplanes all over the country and in my case occasioanlly internationally and i do not take any prescriptions. I may get a few blips of feeling anxiety, but overall i am fine. I got stuck in the middle seat and that is what made me feel anxious. When i go to the movie theatre, plane rides or any public or social event i need to sit in an aisle seat. I cannot sit in the middle.  It is like i block out the fact that i am trapped in this plane and there is no escape. I can somehow overcome that fact. Now i need to figure out the freeway car rides. I used to love riding my motorcycle and now the anxiety has taken over. I tend to think and worry too much and this may be my problem.  
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I'm a 30 year old girl and I'm afraid to drive.  I'm lucky that I just live 5 minutes down the road from work and just a couple of minutes from the grocery store.  I dread having to drive for any length of time, such as to my parents' house, which is only about 25 minutes away, or to even get my hair done or go to church because I shake and sweat and my heart beats out of my chest the entire time I'm in the car.  I've faked being sick to get out of driving to events and as such, have alienated a lot of my friends.  This has only been in the last couple of years, and during that time, I've been hospitalized for depression and generalized anxiety disorder.  I've thought about moving to a city where I could walk anywhere I needed to go so I wouldn't have to drive.  I know I need therapy, but the idea of getting in the car and driving to go to an appointment freaks me out so much that I haven't done it.  I'm pretty much housebound except for work and when one of my friends drives me, because I do not have any problem being a passenger, just the driver.  I don't know what to do because I know that I can't live the rest of my life like this.  
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I'm a 34 year old male. I used to feel anxious while driving alone or with somone on the freeway and side roads. I found that what made me relax was to cut all caffine out of my diet and that seemed to help me out a lot. I no longer feel like I'm going to freak out behind wheel.
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Thanks all for sharing your stories.. hearing other people share their stories doesn't make me fell like I'm going crazy.

I had my first ever anxiety attack while driving 2 months ago, I thought I was having a stroke!!. I had to pull over onto a breakdown lane on a major bridge in the city - I was convinced I was going to faint and stop breathing while driving, I was shaking uncontrollably and eventually stopped a stranger walking over the bridge to help me and drive me to a doctor.

Since then I have not had another huge attack while driving but then again I don't drive as much any more either.

I, like many others, really really used to Love to drive everywhere - now I can feel my body reacting while I drive. My eyesight can get funny - especially at night - the lights make it worse, I start to feel small odd pains in my head and sit there wondering if I have a brain tumor (sounds silly I know - but totally reasonable at the time - well at least in my head) and my heart starts to beat faster, and listening to music or singing doesn't help either.

I don't want to go on any medication - does anyone know any naturals alternatives to cope with this... I miss my long drives!!!

thanks again for sharing your stories - I no longer feel like a freak.

PS. I'm trying a few things to see of any work and will post back to let you know how I go.

Cheers and thanks again!

GladImnotnuts
  
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I dont believe this lol
I have been experiencing all these same symptoms for probably 8 years or more.  I can not go on the freeway for any reason.  I live in a relatively small city so I am able to get around by taking the back roads or side streets, but Ive literally thought I was crazy all this time.  Anytime I have told anyone that I can't go on the freeway, even my PA, Ive been told just to deal with it.  I have not been able to get a diagnosis for my fibro/cfs because the only Doctor around that takes my insurance is in another state and theres no way for me to get there.  I cant goon vacations, because the airport is in another state as well.  I just wanted to thank all of you for talking about this, I feel relief just knowing its not just me.
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Anxiety while driving affects many people and it is mainly due to stress in your life. While working, studying or even playing our brain puts all our stresses into a "bowl". This "bowl" manages our stresses and strains while active but when doing monotonous activities, such as driving (especially on a freeway), this bowl tends to shrink and overflow, manifesting itself in anxiety and panic.. Solutions arnt that dry cut. I myself suffer from this particular disorder and have been told the only way to fully correct it is to reduce stresses and resolve conflicts in my life. Easier said than done. Until i do, theres always xanex! And keeping urself occupied while driving such as talking to someone or playing a game in your head might help! But keep safe. Peace people and best of luck!
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I am 48, peri menopausal and have anxiety while driving as well. Same as you it is much worse depending on where I am in my cycle. I too, exit off the freeway and take the side roads. What I have figured out is I think it is a combination of motion sickness, eye strain, hormones and that leads to an anxiety attack. The best advice I have gotten is from my husband who said just take control of it. Now when I feel like I am going to have an anxiety attack I say out loud Stop it, everything is fine, nothing is going to happen. I keep repeating it until the anxiety stops. I still struggle sometimes. I have limitied my caffeine intake in the morning and do not smoke in the care. I eat a piece of fruit on the way to work to keep me occupied. I have a ten mile commute but it is all freeway. I hope this helps, it has helped me. This whole blog has made me realize I am not alone. Good luck.
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my issue with driving is kinda different.
Short_:
Two times ive tried to get my license.
Two times I havent finished. (i hate it).- I overall have anxiety, so not just here the issue is.,
But first time, i was actually done. Just needed the final test, and the teacher was confident i would do great. But for some reason i quit right before the exam.
Second try. Almost through the end.
My teacher, And me both noticed i was getting kinda winded up. I was getting unfocused and just felt sick driving. So we decided that it might be a good idea to just stop and let it it be for now.

Thing with me is. While i have anxiety, I fear one thing very much when driving. And that is panicking,.
I mean.... people have called me a ninja many times, cause my reflexes are actually pretty good. (like when i was working and had to roll out the store sign out on the street and bumped into a row of bikes behind me, I knew i had hit something and just grabbed the seat behind me without looking and prevented it from falling, while grabbing the next bike with my foot. And pedestrian with his girl actually said : "damn its jackie chan".- haha so yeah.- Im awesome. But at other times I fail miserably.

At a other job- (tractor salesman) - I was sent out to mow the lawn where the tractors stood for show. I had done it many times before in those, mini lawn tractors.
For some reason (and been a while so cant remember exactly. ) the lawnmower was speeding up and i was going straight for one of the tractors. I panicked and instead of using the break¨, i jumped of and placed myself between the two. :S haha what an idiot huh-. No idea why i did that. But i do **** like that- And think that comes back to my when im in a car. I keep thinking. What if something happens. Will I act right or will I panic and just nail the speeder`?
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I have this problem too, usually when there is someone else in the car with me.  For me, it is not limited to driving; I also have issues when videoconferencing at work (I know that makes no sense) that are similar.  I sometimes feel like I'm "on drugs" (even though I do not do drugs) and it comes on all at once -- when I get in the car with the kids, walk outside with a group of friends, etc.  It's almost like some sort of a chemical dump into my brain that sets me off.

The following things seem to make it worse for me:
- Caffeine
- Lack of sleep
- Blood sugar related issues?  Too much/too little?

I have been reading articles about stress and blood sugar, and the general indication seems to be that stress raises blood sugar.  So, I suppose it's possible that I have blood sugar issues and these kinds of stressful situations make it worse.  I have had my blood tested yearly with no indication of diabetes.  The only medication I take is Simvastatin for high cholesterol, but I have been having the issues well before I was put on that.

And I'm still trying to determine whether this is true, but it seems like days where I drink large diet sodas for lunch (e.g. Diet Coke or Coke Zero) are worse.

Days where the kids or dogs wake me up several times in the middle of the night seem to cause me the most problems the next day.

Driving more slowly (staying with the pack in the right lane) helps me.

Thank you all for posting ideas on what has helped you, it has been very helpful for me.
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I'm so glad to see this post is still active and to see there are people who suffer from the same symtpoms as I.  I had my first anxiety attack back in June when I drove from Louisiana to Arizona to pick up my nephew.  I had just hit Houston and was stuck in traffic at a red light when I tensed up and started hyperventilating.  Luckily I was close to a parking lot and pulled in.  I got out of my car and walked around for a few minutes.  I continued on my way and seemed fine.  It took me 2 days to drive across Texas and most of Arizona.  I had a rest and a visit with my sister for only a day and started my journey again with my nephew in tow.  Our drive was great since I had someone to talk to, but then we got to Baton Rouge (it was a major holiday weekend) which is an hour away from where I live.  We were in total gridlock for over an hour.  I really started to panic.  I was sweating and agitated I felt completely helpless.  There had been a big accident but luckily it had cleared.  I hadn't had any anxiety issues with that until around thanksgiving last year.  I was going to Baton Rouge to visit with some family and had missed my exit on the interstate, so I stopped at the next exit to turn around.  When I pulled up to the red light that was it.  I felt tingling in my arms and felt like I was going to pass out (I am a type 2 diabetic and hadn't eaten breakfast, I know is completely irresponsible).  I could feel my fingers tingling and going numb, felt like my head was extremely fuzzy and blurry.  I stopped at a gas station and grabbed an orange juice and felt much better.  I haven't had any problems since then until just recently.  The fuzzy fog head thing started when I was stopped at red lights, I get agitated and rub my arms and wiggle in my seat, turn the air up all the way and roll the windows down.  This even happens when my husband is in the car with me while I am driving, when he drives I am ok.  Well today I got on the interstate going to a friend's house in Mississippi and took the wrong exit.  I was doing ok for a little bit but then I really started panicking and wanted to pull over.  I did as soon as I could and got out to get some fresh air, all my skin got tingly and had that fuzzy grey out.  I know my blood sugar was fine and I had had something to eat.  I turned around and the anxiety was still there, but I was asking God to take it away, not to let it have power over me.  This worked but I constantly kept going back to the worries in my mind.  So I tried to play a game, I kept telling myself to get to the next exit, and the next exit was just up ahead, taking each one at a time.  I made it to my friends house and spent some time there, but I was still jittery and nervous about getting on the road again, I couldn't relax.  I took a xanax when I had to leave but was still anxious when I kept getting stuck at the red traffic lights.  Luckily the xanax kicked in and I was able to drive to an exit I could take to get to a highway road to my house.  I was relieved to have made it.  I did tell my dr about the anxiety and he thinks it may be because my thyroid levels were too high, so I am waiting to see if the lower dosing will help me.  I am under an incredible amount of stress between work and home so I know they are playing factors.  I am at a point where I feel like I am losing control of situations that i never had control of in the first place and feel like everything is falling apart.  I want to give it all to God, and put my hope and faith in Him to help me be stronger.
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I googled "Driving Anxiety" and saw this thread pop up...I know many posts are old but I feel like I need to get this out because I am reading so many similar stories and symptoms, which is making me feel somewhat better.

I don't know what's happened to me, but I'm 28 years old and I have become terrified of driving. Just tonight, I had to drive about 20 miles on a highway (that I have driven on countless times), and I pulled over twice because I was convinced I was going to pass out. I get this foggy, "drunk" feeling, like I've had a glass of wine, when I obviously haven't, and I feel like I've completely disconnected from myself and reality. I find that when I look in the rearview or side mirror, and see trucks or cars coming up behind/beside me, is what makes me start to freak out. I try to avoid looking at all costs, but we know that is impossible when you're on a highway. I practically live in the right lane, but even that has become nerve-racking to me, too. After I pulled over and continued on the road, I tried turning up the music and singing really loudly; blasting the air conditioner; counting backwards; counting a certain number of colored cars; anything to keep my mind off of it, but it was too late and I knew an attack had already started: body tensing up, my palms got sweaty, heart began racing, jaw clenched tightly, and face began to flush. I tried taking deep breaths and forcing myself to calm down ("I'm Ok...calm down...this is going to pass..") and while it worked momentarily, it all started to creep back and I barely made it to my destination. In fact, I'm still feeling "foggy"...I had blood tests done and an EKG a couple weeks ago but everything was normal. Dr. put me on a new med (I do have generalized anxiety as well) which I thought was working, but nothing can combat this driving phobia. I've always been what you'd call a "nervous driver", but it has never been this bad. The funny thing is that I am a safe driver...I have only ever gotten one speeding ticket in 11 years of driving, I never text/talk on a phone or fidget in my car, eyes are always on the road looking for animals, other cars, etc., and I have (knock on wood) never been in an accident. So I don't understand what triggered this...why I panic on the road. Luckily it has not interfered with my ability to get to work or the store, but then, I have been driving those roads for a while and I am able to avoid the highways. I have no idea how I'm going to get over this, but it is so incredibly scary to feel trapped in a car and unsure why these negative thoughts make me think something bad is going to happen. I will continue to check back here for some possible tips and solutions, but I wish all of you luck in overcoming your fear(s). I hope one day I can overcome mine as well.

Best,
Amy
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You're not alone...any of you that have posted in the past or most recently. I started with anxiety when my older brother wanted to see how stoned he could get his 9 year old sister. It turned into a game for a few years, him and his friends thought it was cool to that they were getting me stoned, not knowing that they pushed me into panic attacks each time they did. My connection to driving started when I was 19. I drove from TN to IN and had a full blown attack in a middle of a bridge in Louisville. Traffic speeding away around me, I felt like I was being pushed off the bridge. Police showed up and escorted me across. On a return trip a couple years later, the panic attacks I had all the way ended up with me leaving everything behind in TN and just staying in IN for good with relatives. Over the years I went from driving across the US for a month long tour, to driving state to state, to driving in one state only, to driving in a 200 mile radius...then 100 mile...then 50 mile...to the point that I do not drive anywhere out of the 4 mile radius of my home. Last summer was the last for me. I was driving the same route I always took to another nearby city...one that I spent most of my days in when halfway there I had the worse panic attack I had ever had. I had to call my son to come get me and the vehicle, he in turn had to get his girlfriend to drive him to me....This was the second time in 6 months they had to "save" me so I said that was the end. I wasn't going to interfere with others lives because I was a freak. I found driving to the Ace Hardware Store that is right at 5.5 miles from home very difficult so I now only go where I can. I'm sure soon I will be left with only riding my bicycle.

For anyone reading...I have tried to take back control, I have tried medication in the past, I have tried everything that has been suggested here and nothing has helped me, but I do know others that have conquered the fear and do believe it can be possible. Something is just mentally blocking any type of success for me...don't give up, keep at it...don't let it get you to the point that you cannot go visit your newborn granddaughter because you can't drive to see her. Good luck to everyone!
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You're not alone...any of you that have posted in the past or most recently. I started with anxiety when my older brother wanted to see how stoned he could get his 9 year old sister. It turned into a game for a few years, him and his friends thought it was cool to that they were getting me stoned, not knowing that they pushed me into panic attacks each time they did. My connection to driving started when I was 19. I drove from TN to IN and had a full blown attack in a middle of a bridge in Louisville. Traffic speeding away around me, I felt like I was being pushed off the bridge. Police showed up and escorted me across. On a return trip a couple years later, the panic attacks I had all the way ended up with me leaving everything behind in TN and just staying in IN for good with relatives. Over the years I went from driving across the US for a month long tour, to driving state to state, to driving in one state only, to driving in a 200 mile radius...then 100 mile...then 50 mile...to the point that I do not drive anywhere out of the 4 mile radius of my home. Last summer was the last for me. I was driving the same route I always took to another nearby city...one that I spent most of my days in when halfway there I had the worse panic attack I had ever had. I had to call my son to come get me and the vehicle, he in turn had to get his girlfriend to drive him to me....This was the second time in 6 months they had to "save" me so I said that was the end. I wasn't going to interfere with others lives because I was a freak. I found driving to the Ace Hardware Store that is right at 5.5 miles from home very difficult so I now only go where I can. I'm sure soon I will be left with only riding my bicycle.

For anyone reading...I have tried to take back control, I have tried medication in the past, I have tried everything that has been suggested here and nothing has helped me, but I do know others that have conquered the fear and do believe it can be possible. Something is just mentally blocking any type of success for me...don't give up, keep at it...don't let it get you to the point that you cannot go visit your newborn granddaughter because you can't drive to see her. Good luck to everyone!
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I used to love driving.  I've been driving since I was 14.  I am now 25 and then 4 years ago I went though a tramatic experience when both my grandmothers died a day apart from one another one in which I was present to witness and I had an especially hard time with because I was 1,000 miles away from my home, 2 year old son and husbahd.  When I returned home after being gone for 10 days I was like a hermit and didn't want to leave my house.  Eventually I returned back to my classes at my college and one afternoon I was driving to my class, whichever was about 30 min away and about to turn onto the interstate when suddenly I had a full blown out panic attack.  It was horrible.  I couldnt pull over because I was in the middle of the turnings ramp and I almost passes out.  Ever since then I've had phobias of driving.  Ill have times where I can drive with no problem but then ill have times where I can barely get across town without felling anxious.  I've gotten to the point to Where its even hard riding in the car when someone else is driving because I'm not in control.  I hate Red lights and especially sitting in the turning lane.  This has been such a problem for me especially because I'm about to graduate college and here Ive been a stay at home mom for the last 6 years and will soon be looking for a job.  And since my town is so limited on jobs I will be applying in the bigger city which is 30 min away.  I refuse to let this control my life any longer.  I've read a lot of posts and I do agree that stopping driving is the worst thing to do.  I'm going to start gaining confidence back and start driving more on roads I dread.  Something that distracts my mind (althougg a lot of people are against this ) talking on my cell phone while I'm driving.  I feel by doing that, distracts my mind from anxiety and gets me through my drive.  And if its between having an anxiety attack, passing out and potentially hurting myself and others and staying off phone or staying on phone and staying calm, ill chose staying on the Phone.  But, my goal eventually is to be able to 100% get rid of my phobia and never think about it again and I have full faith that, that will happen.  Just have to never give in and tell myself "you Are fine, you can do it."
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I have an intense fear of driving, afraid i will die in a car accident leaving behind my son...i have generalized anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia..i was in a car accident in 2008 and 2009 is when it all started.. meds and counseling helped a lot, but since i've stopped going i'm back to where i started..my problems are driving in the country or anywhere that i think is "too far from home"..i used to live in town now i live in pretty much in the country which makes it harder to drive into town..having someone in the car with me just makes it worse..especially my son because i think what if something happens to him?..i also have the foggy feeling and that also scares me...while i was in counseling i would make progress, i would have to listen to music(the same song over and over ugh) to keep my mind off of things..i have always had the fear of highways and anything of the sort..i did have a fear of even a short bridge but i got over that..now i'm just trying to get motivated to drive again period..
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I am SO glad I'm not the only one. I freak out when I'm driving, especially somewhere new. I had a hard time learning in the first place, and I have a lot of trouble memorizing routes because of it. I'm afraid to go on the highway, and even going around my own town is hard. My throat goes dry, I'm no longer hungry and I feel anxious.

I have a little social anxiety in the first place that I can sometimes get past, that is getting better. I figure I'll do the same thing I did with that- face my fears, go out there and mingle (with cars, in this case), practice driving, with some music to ease the tension. It's only when I'm driving mind you, I'm so afraid I'll get in an accident, and almost have several times before.
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I had a really bad panic attack during a preschool field trip where I had several little kids in the back and a parent I didn't know sitting next to me. We got on the interstate and I had several panic attacks on the way there and the way home. It was so much worse trying to act normal on the outside while I felt like I was going to pass out or have a heart attack on the inside. A few weeks later I drove three hours to my parents house and it was awful too. Since then, almost two years ago, I don't drive on interstates longer than 20 miles or so and even that is difficult. It's hard for me to ride along as well. I sit in the back with the kids and try to distract myself with the movie. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. My sister lives a few hours away about 90 miles on the interstate and I really want to go see her but I'm afraid. My mom puts out the guilt about why I don't come to her house anymore. It *****. I used to drive with the kids everywhere since my husband works a lot and our families are all out of town. Not anymore. I had to cancel a recent 6 hour trip to extended family because he had something come up at work and I felt like I couldn't do the drive even though I have several times prior to the preschool event. I want to be different. I am going to try the on off the interstate thing. I know for me it is definitely a trapped thing, I feel that way at red lights, long lines, meetings, weddings, etc. Sometimes I think it would be easier without the kids in the car so they wouldn't be asking what the heck was going on and whining about it taking so long. But they're not going anywhere so I suppose I should get used to it with them in the car too. Funny enough before the preschool thing I used to feel like we'd be in the car on one of our journeys and it would be me and them against the world, like our own little unit. I want that safe secure feeling back when we travel together. Like we're fine no matter what.
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I having been having the same problem sometimes iam fine , It happens mostley on the highway. I have tried everything to get back to normal with my driving inclueding meds and i was even looking into driving school. I use to drive the highway all the time and one day it all change for me. I feel so bad about because i have to take the long way every where ,iam shame and i had havnting to pull over so much i pray we all get thought this.
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The same thing happens to me.  Exactly as you described. I have to drive about 40 minutes today, all highway, to pick my mom up at the airport and I am already stressing about it. I start school (grad school) next week and I have to again drive about 40 minutes, multiple highways the entire way. Have you found anything to help at all? I don't know how this started either.  I'm not even necessarily scared of an accident or anything, it's just the foggy disconnected feeling that happens that is so scary. Its definitely worse at night with all the lights. For the first time ever, a few weeks ago, I had to actually get off the highway to pull over for a sec. :(  I hate this.  I don't know why it is happening.
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WOW. The similarities are many...I googled anxiety while driving, I'm 29, used to looove driving (like a speed racer) since I was 18 and lo and behold one afternoon while driving home from school my heart started racing, I couldnt feel my hands yet I was gripping the steering wheel for dear life. I got tunnel vision and it felt like my brain was doing flips and i was going to float away while my car wrecked and killed me! LOL. Thats all I can do. It is so reassuring that we will all get better. We have to. There is NO other option. I know I'm not a crazy lunatic (although thats exactly how you feel when this happens). Lets all just laugh! We r in this together. I too had alot of coffee in my system that day and I noticed if I dont eat but have caffiene in my system its worse. I also think it is somewhat hormonal. The first time it happend I had just given birth 4 months prior. And I was on birthcontrol (more hormones). I do well on the streets but its a hit or miss on the freeway. I just recently moved to beautiful Portland Oregon and as many of you know there are lots of bridges! I dont know the area, but I refuse to miss out on sooo much just because of this. I wont try meds. Here's my plan: I'm going to decrease or elliminate my caffeine intake, exercise more, get my eyes checked, and take a natural DHA suppliment. I heard you lose a ton of vitamins and minerals during and after pregnancy and I've had 4 kids! Guys ? Who knows maybe its got something to do with testosterone. Maybe not. Let's just get our lives back!!!! GO US!!!!!
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Wow isn't it great (though, at the same time, not great) that there are others who can understand what it feels like? We are not alone!  I joke around that I'm crazy but man, I am a normal functioning human being besides being absolutely freaked on the highway.  I drove 40 minutes multiple highways yesterday to pick my mom up from the airport and by the 5th mile on the highway I was freaking. I just sort of feel like I am going to lose control somehow. Its pure anxiety.  I exercise 5 days a week and eat pretty healthy, don't drink coffee, but you think it is possibly hormonal and you may be onto something! I haven't had kids yet but it is that time of the month.  I just took deep breaths but honestly the only thing that helped yesterday was talking to myself out loud in Russian (I learned Russian a few years ago then lived there last year for 1 year - so I think the concentration it requires to speak out loud and think in another language helps me take the focus off OMG I am anxious and this is scary.)  Anyway the first time it happened I had the tunnel vision experience like you did.... I think having that experience just once makes it worse because then you get scared its going to happen again.   Anyway I love your positive attitude. I took REFUSE to let it control my life. As I said I am in grad school (start this month) and I need to take literally 4 highways just to get there.  I notice I get a little more anxious at interchanges or when the highway opens up really wide.

Anyway if you find anything that really helps you please share!  I'll do the same.
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I just finished reading all of the posts on here. I knew I wasn't alone with how I was feeling, but it's great to know that so many other people out there go through what I do. I feel as if nobody in my life understands what I deal with on a daily basis.

I am 30 years old and have been suffering from debilitating anxiety since 2007. I was taking Klonopin and Celexa to help. Within the past month, I have stopped using both meds completely. Even though I felt that they worked for a while, I also think that I have been on them for way too long and my body was used to them. Therefore, they weren't having the same effects on me anymore. Also, I don't want to live the rest of my life being tied to these heavy drugs.

My first severe anxiety attack happened in 2007 when I was driving home from work. My commute was about an hour. About halfway into the drive, I suddenly felt extreme panic. I had to pull over because I thought I was going to pass out while driving. Big mistake. I managed to pull over in a store parking lot and was then thrown into a severe panic attack. I called my good friend to see if she could come and pick me up, as I knew I was unable to drive from there. She couldn't get me, but another friend was able to. I then waited about 2 hours for her to come get me, the entire time suffering by myself, sitting in my car in the parking lot. I felt nauseous, dizzy, light-headed, my heart was racing. I was freezing and my entire body was convulsing. I was crying uncontrollably. I thought I was going to lose my bowels. Basically, I was not in control of my body. I was on the phone the entire time with my friend, but I could hardly talk. She said I was unresponsive. I believe that I was in a state of shock. I was extremely close to calling an ambulance because I just didn't know what to do anymore. But when my friend finally showed up, she brought me home.

After that incident, I was unable to drive for several months. One of my coworkers was able to bring to me and from work for that period of time, but it was still even difficult for me to even be in a car. After being on meds, going to therapy and eventually getting myself back in the drivers seat, I was starting to somewhat feel a little more comfortable with driving again. However, I had missed so much work and just couldn't make it up, so I ended up losing my job. I then lost my apartment because I couldn't pay the rent and had to move back in with my parents. Big blow to me. I ended up living with them for about 1-1/2 years. During that time, I got stronger than I was and got another job. Eventually, I moved back out on my own. That was almost a year ago.

Now, I am jobless again because of my severe anxiety while driving. I was having an extremely hard time being able to get to work, that I lost my job. I have now been unemployed since the end of April. I am on unemployment and live with my wonderful, understanding boyfriend. So between the 2 of us, I am able to keep my apartment and not have to move back home (which I was told I couldn't do anymore). However, I do spend the majority of my time at home. My anxiety level has drastically increased lately. I find it extremely hard to drive anywhere, especially if there is a lot of traffic, multiple lanes, bridges and especially at red lights. I even have a hard time being a passenger in the car.

So, now that I am completely of Klonopin and Celexa, I have been researching ways to deal with my severe, debilitating anxiety. I haven't really tried anything yet, because I just get so completely frustrated I can't even deal with it. My boyfriend suggested I get in my car and drive to the first light I reach and then turn around and come back home. That way, I don't let the anxiety take further control over me to the point where I can't even look at a car without freaking out. It seems that I am right on the verge of it getting to that point. I can never go anywhere. I miss out on so many things in life because of my severe anxiety. I am so sick of it, too. I want to do something about it, but I just don't know what will work for me. I've tried breathing exercises, playing with the radio, turning on the AC full blast, thinking of other things, sucking on mints, inhaling vapo-rub, talking to myself, smiling to myself, etc. It just seems that my anxiety is there no matter what and just keeps getting worse every time I try to do something. I don't want to live every day stuck inside my apartment. I can't go anywhere and it's awful. I am at the bottom of my rope and just don't know what to do anymore.

If anyone can offer any suggestions, please let me know. I am willing to try pretty much anything.

Thanks for reading my long post, too. :)
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I also thought that I was the only person suffering with this problem. I would explain it to my fiancee and he thought I was crazy. I tend to avoid highways as much as possible. When I be driving, I feel like numbness in my body, tend to get hot, feel as if I can not catch my breath. I always have a cold rag on hand because this seems to take me back to reality. I use to love leaving home without the kids to go grocery shopping, but now I am asking them to go with me so that I can have someone with me in the car to talk to keep my mind off of the attacks. This is real scary and sometimes I feel as if I can not catch my breath and have to pull over.
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Has anyone had a panick attack in the car to the point where your whole body gets numb and tingly and your whole body freezes up? To the point where your pretty much paralized? I always loved to drive, then earlier in July I was driving and all of a sudden my body went numb and tingly. I pulled over and my husband started to drive, then my hands cramped up to my chest and my legs were numb I couldnt move. I thought I was having a seizure. My husband called 911 and long story short they said it was hyperventalation syndrome cause by anxiety. To this day Im struggling with this, I have seen a neurologist and been to the er a million times just to make sure nothing else is wrong with me. But I guess I just have really bad anxiety and it ***** big time. Trying to deal with it now, but does anyone else go through this?
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i have driving anxiety. i cant drive the speed limit no matter what it is im always 5-10 miles under. i take anxiety meds for it and the help for the most part except for when im next to a semi truck.. that still freaks me out.. the bad thing is i use to be a truck driver but had to stop due to the anxiety... o well atleast i dont have to deal with dumb@#$ess as much anymore! lol
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I'm in my early 50's and began experiencing driving anxiety 2-3 years ago.
I used to be one of those drivers doing 130-140km in the fast lane in heavy rush hour traffic.
Now I hold up traffic in the slow lane.
Like many others when the anxiety hits, I feel that my brain is quite disconnected from my body. I'm in a lightheaded state where I don't feel I have control over the vehicle
My wife will notice me begin to get figidy, rubbing my head, rolling the window up and down etc. I also experience a loss of balance. My head begins to move  and jerk to regain a balanced position. I thought it might be an inner ear problem but as soon as she takes over the driving my sense of balance  and calmness returns.
I have lost my confidence in driving on the highways. My next step is to seek anxiety relief through medication (short term I hope) and counselling.

Will check back in to report results in the next month
I

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I've always been a little nervous about driving, but I've also always been able to overcome it ... even driving the Beltway when I lived in the DC area, but now, I keep giving my car psychosommatic illnesses ... spending money to fix a car that isn't broken because I am so anxious that I cry when I am driving, drive so far under the speed limit that I know it's not safe, and literally shake all the way to where I have to go. I am driving less and less, and am afraid soon I won't want to drive at all, and I do have to work for a living. Doesn't taking medication make you drowsy? I've thought about taking something but the thought of being drowsy makes me even more nervous. Does medication help?
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Yes, I think most people experience this feeling once or twice in their life.
   The problem is that you must not harp or worry that it will happen again.
I also had a strange freeway driving situation where i thought i was having a heart attack and pulled over on the shoulder and caught my breath.  This did traumatize me about driving so much that i used to shake while driving.
The first thing you have to do is get back in that car and start driving, no questions, shakes, scared, whatever it is do it.  I also find taking a high dose of vitamins help also doing hypnosis driving cd tapes, not while driving but do the tapes everyday or few times a week. There is another natural treatment you can do while driving it's EFT tapping, google this and you will  learn more about this. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with driving slow, and pulling over a few times if you get scared, keep the air on your face and breathe away and tapp away you will be fine.  
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hi, i totally know what you are experiencing, its like you are alone and in a fog somewhere. you ask yourself is this really happening or is it my imagination.  then i start feeling like everything is closing in on me and i hafta call someone or  pull over to get me through it..
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I'm so glad I'm not alone when it comes to driving and anxiety.  The freeway and especially the speed on the freeway is what makes me anxious.  I always take a Xanax before and that really helps.  Tomorrow I need to drive on the freeway in an area of town I'm not familiar with and I always end up making the wrong turn because I get panicky.  But anxiety has always been a part of my life.  I sympathize with all of you.
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I have been having anxiety/panic attacks since I was 15.  At 16 I started driving...passed my test...got my license.  I have found ways to cope with this anxiety while driving for many years (I am now 51 years old).  About 2 years ago I had a real bad episode and could not drive for over 6 months.  Finally I forced myself to drive so that I could go back to work.  The strangest thing is, I used to have anxiety all the time...couldn't go to the mall, or restaurants, etc.  But now all of my anxiety and panic attacks happen while driving. Bad weather like rain or snow increase the attacks.  Just knowing there's a slight chance of snow will throw off my whole day and cause me to panic even before I get in my car!  I cry at night over the frustration and the control this has over me.  Why is it I won't let a REAL thing like a person control me, but my imagination and a stupid phobia can control my life?  My biggest fear is having a panic attack and passing out...and worrying about that is what usually brings on the attack.  Yes, worrying that I might have a panic attack actually brings on a panic attack!  Maybe I will try to worry about NOT having a panic attack so that I WON'T have one!
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I have the same issue I get very nervous when i'm driving somewhere new and or at night. When driving to work or places i go on a regular basis my anxiety is about a 1 or 2 depending on excess traffic. It's hard to deal with and I hate that a lot of people don't understand. I live in NJ and always seem to meet new people in the places I don't want to drive like philadelphia which is only a half hour away but it's the city and more hectic confusing or a certain town in nj that i hate. It's mostly major highways, towns with a million 4 ways stops with weird angles where i can't really see. Plus every town is different so all the stuff you learn when taking your drivers test you forget until that one day you drive in the new town and you have to go around a circle or parallel park and have no time to figure out how to do it because it always seems like everyone wants to be behind you and on your tail. It really got in the way of my dating life if they lived in a weird area luckily now the guy i'm seeing is very comforting about it and helps me relax until each trip gets easier and easier. Another issue I have is i always drive alone so when someone else is in the car i dont really know that well i tense up because i'm thinking of what they are thinking about my driving so i'm over concentrating and trying to listen to them talk at the same time so it seems like i'm completely ignoring them but i'm just in a weird zone of panic. What helps me is i do the following 3 things if I am able to.

1. I always google map any new location because they show a picture of most of the directions

2. I will try to get the person i am driving to or ask a friend to drive there for me the first time so i can see how bad i'm making the drive to be in my mind

3. The first couple to several times i am driving somewhere new that really makes me nervous I always make it a priority to get there very early where there is hardly any traffic and try to leave a. when it's still light out or b. later at night when there are no cars on the road

Yoga helped me relax and meditating the phrase I am safe also my favorite songs help me relax as well
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I am this same way :( Have you found an answer to your problem yet? I get like hypnotized. Sometime I feel like I am driving at an angle... or straight up or down and then I think.... what if there was no gravity, yada yada.... It's awful because I have to work 2 jobs and drive my son to day care like this.
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Please let me know how the B12 shots are working for you. I am so desperate at finding an answer. My brain and eyes do not work together for some reason and the dr's can not give me an answer. My email is ***@****
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I have suffered 3 panic attacks while driving. Each time I've experienced numbness on the left side of my body, shortness of breath,  and feeling as though my throat was closing in. The first time was the worst. I grew stiff to the point where my mouth and lips were clenched tight and I could not relax them. I think these attacks were my body's reaction to built up stresses over a long period of time. Ever since, I have not been myslef.  I suffer from constant facial tension and have tried every relaxation technique to lessen it.  None have worked.  I feel like I will never be the same again.

I live in fear that it will happen again, and hit me while I'm driving. For this reason, I like to stay close to home.  If I know I have to travel far or be away from home most of the day, I get nervous.   Although I feel tense each day-worrying about future tasks and trying to balance home and work - it heightens considerable when I'm drving.  The only things that gives me some relief is when I'm with someone. I feel as though I have the security that they will take care of me, should I have another attack.

Thank you for all your posts. They help comfort me, although I wish we can all feel back to our old selves again.  I'm curious, has anyone else out there had the same symptoms as me?
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you're the first person who has ever described the things that tend to freak me out while driving. Weird spatial fears (feeling like you're driving vertically or some nonsense like that). Im glad that sensation not unique to me. I get totally weirded out when the horizon goes up when im driving... like, what a thing to be afraid of?!

Recently, i have taken to getting REALLY scared at large intersections.

just thought, i would throw in my 2bits

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Hey I just saw this comment, I get this to but I'll tell ya how I feel when I drive I feel like I can't sit still or I get kinda dizzy sometimes I feel like I can't breath right almost like I'm hyperventilating I dunno I get weird feelings in my head its hard to describe kinda like weird pressures or something then when it comes to bridges I struggle so much it's not funny I kinda have to crunch down and take deep breaths till I get across if anyone was in the car with me they would think I'm hella weird outside of driving I feel normal I don't know why u feel like this I tried to take Paxil and only took it for 4 days it made me feel so so bad and I quit taking it as I drive around I tell myself there is no reason to feel like this and try to think good thoughts but ya that dosent help this has been goin on for about s year and hopefully it goes away I don't want this to be with me forever
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hey im peter I dont know how it started but it started out of the blue I am driving Since 2001, One day I drove on the highway and started feeling scared didn't why I had to exit right away. ever since then whenever I drive on the highway I shake I cant control it. I have been driving on the highway for long time :S  don't know how this started. I feel hopeless I regret driving that day when i got this  I wouldn't be scared its ruining my life and I dont really want to go on pills
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   I have had so many of the same problems as all of you.  I also had found that thru the years if i had any alcohol to drink in days before i took long trips on highway, the symptoms were way worse.  I got so tired of never knowing for sure when this was going to pop up that i finally went to a doctor.  They tried everyone of the anti depresants on me.  Some made me way worse.  Citlopram is what they have had me on last.  I have been on it for over a year.  It seems the only reason it helps is because it dumbs you down so much.

   Which leads me to this.  I am 54 yrs old. Male.  I quit smoking over 6 yrs ago.  Drinking over 5 yrs ago. I cut out all caffeine about 2 yrs ago. Heavy user of that also.  I really think caffeine is a big problem with this.   So I dropped the citlopram 2 weeks ago and am dealing with the withdrawal.  I got so tired of all the side effects of the meds.  I am going to start taking B 12 and hopefully I can manage this on my own.  The meds are just to much for the side effects.

    So to everyone that has posted here or is just reading this, you are not alone.  Driving and going places was always one of my greatest pleasures, so this has been a anchor for a long time.   Good luck to all of you.
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I relate. I sat here a cried. I have read these threads and I don't feel so alone.  But yes, it started about late 30's. I have often thought it is hormonal. I tried to explain it to my physican. I am saying in my mind during these attacks this is absurd! But my body is shaking, heart palpitating and dizzy and feel paralized. I had to pull over many times. I wonder what it is that goes wrong. It appears to be cyclic sometimes. I Have often thought about how when a woman is young and has a baby, our senses are amplified, and what if, that signal does not turn off. As we older it would wear us out! My Doctor put me on topamax and in days of starting a low dose I noticed the background was less and I drove more confident. I didnt feel or notice every little thing like before. I do have occasional break through anxiety but rest usually is the best medicine. I still cant seem to get on the highway. I make myself do an exit or so, when I feel up to it. But it is so hard.
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Has anyone thought it could be related to aspertame? Just a thought? I'm going to try giving it up for a while to see if this chemical is causing my car cruising  meltdowns. lol! You know our diet is full of corn syrup refined this and that. hmmmmm....
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ME ME ME...started at age 46 or 47.  I am hoping it passes when I finally dry out.  
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All these situations seem very similar to mine. I was driving back from Sacramento (I live about 75 minutes south of Sac.) I was in the car with three other people we were having a silly conversation (something about trying to remember songs from an old KISS album) I was driving fine then all of a sudden I felt like I was in grave danger. I had no idea what was going on. I was dizzy and felt like i was going to faint I didn't want to alarm anyone so I made up an excuse about my leg cramping up or something. I pulled over and hoped that someone else would take over driving... they didn't so I got back in an very nervously made it home. That was about 18 months ago and since then anxiety and panic attacks have been the center of my universe. I have good days and bad days. The key is to keep getting back out there. I notice that these days when I am in the middle of the freeway I start to panic. It just makes me feel in limbo with no escape route. I refused the medicine my doctor tried to give me because I can't come to grips with having to take a pill just to drive my car (on the freeway). I don't suffer these symptoms anywhere else. I've been driving for two decades completely carefree and it gets me down to think that something I used to actually love is now something that I am afraid of. I've tried many driving anxiety programs and techniques. I'll beat it eventually but I am still working on my problem. The one technique that seemed to give a drastic turnaround was in a program called the Linden Method (you can google it). He has something called the Panic Attack eliminator. it's a 10 minute audio segment in his course where you are instructed to pretty much push your anxiety as bad as it can get to show you that you are actually in control of it. For someone who has driving anxiety, it's pretty scary to be white knuckle driving in the slow lane to somehow move 2-3 lanes over in an attempt to make your uneasy feelings even worse. but I have to tell you.. I DID IT! and within seconds as I was driving right next to the fast lane, my anxiety drained out of my body. I haven't felt like that for quite a long time and it felt great. I was hoping that I was cured, but to be honest, I wasn't.... but I was better. Bad days come and go, but the good thing is that I know that it's within me to beat this thing once and for all!

I wish everyone the best of luck in their journey. There's something inside us that is causing this negative chatter. We just have to find out for ourselves what it is.

To Our Success
- Tony
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I am right there with you. I'm not afraid to drive persay, but it's going and being able to get back. My best friend is visiting 2 hours away and I can't go...it's overwhelming and of course now crying...I just want to be normal...this is crippling in general!
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I never had a problem with panic and anxiety while driving till I was transferred to Pennsylvania from Florida back in 1999.  The source of my fear were hills, bridges, turns in the road, wet roads, snowy/icy roads and buisy roads.  Now, it's turned into being afraid of driving period!  I can get to the store about 2 blocks from my home.. but.. that's about it.  I have seen several doctors about this condition and have been on everything from Kava Kava to anti depressants to Xanax and now am on Ativan.  None of these have helped.  I have done therapy.  I forced myself to drive for the first few years, but now I have given up.  It does not get better with medication or with "just doing it".  One interesting point is that I went back home to Florida for a short vacation and had no problem AT ALL driving while I was home.  But.. the minute I got back to PA..it was the same old thing.  I have asked my doctor about the B-12 issue.. and he thinks I'm crazy for even suggesting it.  I have just about given up and accepting the fact that I will never be normal again!  Another interesting thing.. I am now starting to get panic attacks for absolutely no reason.  I can be watching TV, eating dinner... even sleeping and they hit me.  Does anyone have any suggestions about how I can get my dr to take me seriously regarding the vit B-12 test?  His normal comment when I tell him about the panic and anxiety is " just get over it. this is your own fault for letting it get this far".
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I hate being me. I hate it. I am angry with myself and these issues I carry around that affect people around me. My anxieties are starting to control whether or not I take a few hour trip with my husband to visit his family. How ridiculous is that? My anxiety started in the early 2000's. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, General Anxiety disorder and at times depression. I had been in 3 cars accidents in my 20's, I am now 37. I was raped when I was 16. A man tried to break into our home while I was there with my great grandmother, I was 10 and he had a sawed off shotgun. I can drive decently around town. I can suffer through a 20 minute trip with someone else driving. Highways scare the crap out of me when I drive but I force myself to do it and when my hubby or anyone else is driving on a highway the entire trip I am afraid I am dying. The speed is a factor. Not having any stop lights is a factor. If I close my eyes so I don't scream at my husband that we are going to crash then I feel every acceleration and every time he applies the breaks or swerves or changes lanes, every bump in the road. It's maddening. I cry. I take xanax. Sometimes I drink before we leave home as well. I want an escape from being me. I have done numerous therapies, most recently EMDR and I felt better for a bit, but I also did not ride with anyone else during those 3 months. I recently had to ride with my husband for an hour and a half. I sat in back, put on sunglasses, had a pillow to hug and blanket to hide under. I opened my eyes once. My mind goes places no mind should. I think, oh brakes we are crashing; oh acceleration we are crashing; oh a bridge, we will go flying. I hate living like this. I need help. My husband is hurt because he thinks I don't trust him. It's not him at all. I know he loves me and would do anything to protect me. This is my demon and it's got a full, firm grasp on me. This weekend he is renting a truck to take a 3.5 hour road trip to his moms to get his motorcycle. He wants me to go. I am freaking out right now. I had a panic attack just talking about it and I cried my eyes out. I took half a xanax to calm down. I want some miracle pill that will either A) just make me sleep and not wake up til we get there or B) will make me better. I could go on forever. I am so sad that I am this way. I also will not ride roller coasters. I have to medicate and have a drink or two to fly. I can take a train...and I can handle a cruise ship. It's like I can't live life. :(
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I still suffer from Driving and anxiety too mine is long distance and fear of the what if factor. I was in a sever head on collision with a drunk driver. It took me 14 years and some patient friends to help me get back behind the wheel.

Just about over a week ago, I promised someone that is close to me that I would drive from Vegas to Pariss Ca with her. I wanted to so much, But I kept thinking over and over again about the distance, getting in a wreck, not knowing anyone but her near that area and she would be staying somewhere there while I would be in a town 10mi away from her. And if something happened to her I don't know how I would get there to help her. I know this was very important to her she wanted me to meet someone that she has known for 12 years and they wanted to also meet me, but with the anxiety taking over I felt like I was going there to be judged and ridiculed. I don’t know why I feel like this.

And what happened then my subconscious took over, I started to say and do things that I normal would not. The furthest I have made it was to Barstow CA with a group of friends but even then I was shaking , sweating, could not think, could not see straight, heart was pounding, my chest was tightening and shallow breathing. There were so many times that I just wanted to pull over and vomit.


I thought I could do this, but my friend now hates me, and does not understand this problem that I have. She has been in crashes before but never affected her or her ability to drive. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I don’t feel normal, and now I feel like I have lost someone that I would do anything for. I don’t know how to show her or even tell her how this feels when driving a long distance like that. This made me hurt, and depressed that I could not do this I feel and will feel I let her down, and just for  that I wanted to commit suicide because of all of this. When “I say I will do it” to help someone out then to me that is a promise I have never broke one till now. I am very upset by that, all because of this condition that I have.

I know when I am in a car for such a long time that I will freak out if I am driving which is what I wanted to do for her. I know if I am doing 65-80 on the 15 to Cali once it kicks in I will lockup the breaks and not move. The reason I know its happened before. I really thought I could do this and be able to drive 251mi +/- . I also have let down others as well by not going which even that does not help the anxiety  at all. It has made my life more depressing as well.
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I'm a 57 year old female and I developed driving anxiety about 15 years ago (age 42).  

It started at a time I was under an extreme amount of stress.  Also, unknown to me, I abruptly discontinued Nortriptyline prescribed to me by a neurologist for neck pain that resulted from a rear end accident.  I'd never been on any type of depression med before and didn't know weening was advised.  I'd been on it for abut 8 months and was off a handful of days.  I experienced strange brain flashes, lightheadedness, and equilibrium problems and had no idea why.  I learned they were likely due to the abrupt discontinuance of the Nortriptyline.  This occurred randomly and anywhere I happened to be, even while driving.

Because of this, I found myself becoming extremely fearful at times while I was driving.  My body would become tense, I would feel anxious and felt like I was going to faint.   I would have to pull over and wait until I felt better.  This occurred on regular city streets.  

Eventually (several months) this lessened, but I found myself unable to drive downhill on curvy mountain roads.  I live in the Bay Area of northern California and to get out of this area, you pretty much have to drive on either hilly or mountain roads.  I used to drive to and from here to Los Angeles without out a care!  I used to be able to drive down the treacherous "grapevine" on highway 5 even under the most dangerous conditions ~ pouring down rain in the dark!  

In 2004 (age 48) my son was getting married at the coast.  That meant I had to drive over the very curvy mountain freeway to attend his wedding.  I sought help from a psychiatrist.  I was prescribed Lexapro and Xanax.  I was able to drive to the wedding!  Also, I was able to fly to Orlando with not a hint of the fear of flying I had prior.  Unfortunately, the Lexapro came with unwanted side effects.  I discontinued it because curvy mountain road trips were not a necessary in my life, such as for my career.  I used them for outings, vacations, and visiting family/friends who lived outside of the Bay Area.  My world became much, much smaller.  

In recent years, the severity of my driving anxiety has worsened.  I can no longer drive on any freeway, flat or curvy.  I do take side streets and can do so very confidently MOST of the time.  I have been taking a small dose of Xanax almost daily since my son's wedding ~ 0.25 mg.  I typically take it in the morning, but find myself having to take more if I've been under stress... which is pretty much how my life is ~ stressful.  

I wish I could find a medication that would stabilize my driving anxiety without having to take Xanax, but at least I'm on a low dose.  I have accepted that I can no longer drive on freeways, but feel like I've become somewhat of a disabled person in that regard because it takes hours to get places and my driving is restricted to the valley I live in (Silicon Valley/Bay Area).

I have tried distraction techniques such as my daughter repeatedly telling me that it's just my flight/fight response and it will pass, playing loud music and singing along with it.  Sometimes they would help to block/reduce my cycling thoughts, but not often enough.  I do believe a major contributing factor to me being unable to drive on any freeway was me witnessing a young male jump out from a median directly into three lanes of oncoming traffic.  As I sat at the light I saw him be hit by the first car then cartwheel over into the next lane and be struck by a second car.  It was a nightmare happening right in front of my eyes.  I couldn't leave my neighborhood (where the accident occurred) for several months.  Slowly, over about one year, I  eased back into being able to drive past that accident site with less anxiety.  

TMI, maybe, but this driving anxiety is torture to us all, especially knowing we've driven before!  
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I'm 26 years old and have been in multiple car accidents as a child. Also been in multiple close calls riding my bike. Got hit like 3 times and avoided getting hurt just in time due to my reflexes. I absolutely hate driving. I'd rather be a passenger but then I worry about how the person drives and the people around us driving lol.

I just recently went back to work and worst of all it is all driving for now :(. Driving 8 hours a day gets very tiring for me. I get very anxious at times especially in tight traffic or those roads where you have people driving close to you on the opposite side of the road. That is the worst for me. Feel like I'm being watched and it makes me very nervous. I can't stand feeling like this.... The medications don't help. Still get anxious and have side effects to boot. I just feel horrible. Tensed up, scarred, angry.
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I have anxiety attack while driving it's gotten better, what help me I stopped drinking coffee for six months I notice I was not anxious. Then when I was ready to drive I would take the scenic route to get to my destination. I did this for about a year, this has help me. Now I switch to decaf, and I listen to jazz music. If I'm upset about something I don't go anywhere in my car. Also taking a walk to the park, or around your neighborhood helps tremendously.
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I used to love driving, in the last 2 months i dont know what happened that whenever i would go to school (15 min away from my home) i would get the feeling that i could lose control any moment, for about 5 seconds, then it'll go away. one time i was a stop light and felt the need to go and had to roll down my windows and started feeling red. thank God it turned green. I don't know if its a phobia or legit anxiety but i hate this feeling cause i like driving. i dont get like that with other people in the car because it helps me out but when im alone i start getting thoughts of pulling over and breathe. i havent though. i dont know what couldve triggered so im seeing a school counselor and see what happens.
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I'm not going to reiterate everything said here as I suffer from anxiety while driving as well; perhaps it has something to do with my diagnosed PTSD of several years ago, however, I don't believe anyobe can feel as low as I do tonight.  I lied to my family as it was my niece's first birthday party and I was aksed to pick up the pizzas, 5 miles from my house, when asked I knew what might happen, and it did. I ran into HEAVY traffic and had to pull over numerous times, needless to say I never made my destination.  I pulled into a parking lot and texted my family and told them my car broke down and was waiting for AAA.  They understood and asked if I needed help, I told them no.  I feel so bad about not only lying to cover up this insideous disease but missing my niece's 1st birthday party, good thing I don't drink. I'm going to an Urgent Care Doctor tomorrow, I've got to beat this, good luck to you all as well.
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I had a panic attack this summer on the highway. My first one ever. I have never been afraid to drive so I dont know what brought this on. Now I think 1/2 my problem is when I drive I think about having or not having another one. I get light headed and shaky. Ive tried listening to books on cd and singing with the radio but I cant seem to get the thought out of my head. I avoid the highway as much as I can and use backroads which help somewhat but it takes me twice as long to get somewhere. Any ideas how to get this out of my head so I can drive without that fear??
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I know this was posted a longgg time ago but i was just researching things about anxiety online. Its a good feeling to know your not alone when it comes to these situations. I had a really bad panic attack while driving one night about a week a ago. Its my first time driving in the winter, so that was a little scary. Ive had anxiety since middle school and im now a senior. It was inder control for the longest time and i rarely had anxiety. until last sunday. Everytime I think about driving now i get anxious. I know it because im afraid of having anxiety which is silly. But its true. Ive been forcing myself to drive mostly because I know it will only get worse if i dont. I feel better when I call someone like my mom, sister or boyfriend. They all understand. And I tihnk it doesnt help that its my time of the month with hormones. Im just really afraid that its never going to get better. I cant let it control my life, which it has been the past few days. The freedom of driving is awesome, especially for a teenager, but latley I dont want to drive at all. Anyone from previous posts resolve their issue with driving? thanks!
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Has your anxiety while driving improved at all? I just posted a comment on this chain. Im afraid that this isnt going to just be a freak anxeity faze. I relate to this post 100%
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This page is already making me feel better. I've been struggling with anxiety and panic disorder since I was about 12 and now at 31 it's almost debilitating. 5 years ago I had my first in car panic attack. Barely made it home and my 20 minute drive turned into 3 hours. Ever since that day, my life has been somewhat ruined. I no longer enjoy any thing involves a crowd, traffic, etc. I hate being in the left turn lane and it's something I never even thought about before. I can no longer go to concerts, events, or busy restaurants. I used to love going places and now I'm a prisoner to my anxiety. I've been on every drug there is and done years of therapy. I'll start to make improvements and go through months of feeling better and then it all comes back months later. I'm just so glad I'm not alone. Thank you all for sharing, it has brought me some comfort. Bless you all <3
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I also have an issue driving. I was in a head on collision 4 years ago. The damage to my car was bad, I got off lucky to say the least. I did not cause the accident, just happened to be in the wrong place. I did not know I had an issue until the following year when the same type of snow fell and I cleaned off my car, and got on the highway. This is when the clenching of the wheel, hyperventilating and the full onset of complete fear struck. I am fine driving at any other time except winter and only on bad weather days. I also suffer from GAD, with everything that has happened - I understand why. This is the third time in my life I have suffered. This time working on my own has not worked so I am now getting drug free help. Pills do not help, it is how you talk to yourself that has to be fixed. I agree with the self challenges, they do work, but not overnight - have patience and keep up being positive, it's the negative thoughts that get in your way. Anxiety is stress, stress is there to tell you to relax ;slow down).. The drus I have tried in the past - they don't work, see a professional - write when your anxiety is high and bring it to your helper. Get reading material to help you. Hope this helps :)
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Boy I didnt realize when I looked up driving phobia,,that Im not alone...Ive had this problem for about 12 years...and I really havent found an answer..It seems as though doctors want to put you on medications right away...there are books out there claiming to help.(which Ive done both)..and still havent found an answer,.Im just soo curious on why this happens to people...I can see having issues if you've been in an accident...but in my case I havent...I don't know why this happened to me..I could drive anywhere until I was in my late 30's....and it just started to happen..no ryme or reason...Anxiety does run in my family...But Im the only one that has this particular problem...Its almost like a claustrophobic feeling...Well that is exactly how I feel...If I didnt get that dizziness feeling it wouldnt be so bad...But I do believe that if you get in you car and drive everyday...and talk to yourself while your driving...saying things like Feel the fear and do it anyway...Your Ok....Your driving fine...trust that the other car doesnt want to come in your lane..and won't...repeat and do this until its not scarey...My problem is I live in a small town...I dont have access to freeway driving..in which that is where I have alot of anxiety!!! How does someone like me work on driving on interestate when I dont get on one very often...If everyone would travel at 40 mph I wouldnt feel so afraid....LOL...I do find when I talk to myself when I feel the anxiety coming on it does help..Semi's scare the hell out of me...don't know why??? Driving at night another issue...And yes I do agree that negative thinking is a huge factor in all of this!!! Hopefully we all can continue to work on the things that could help...I don't think there is a magic wand...although I wish there was...I will continue to search for answers and techniques to help me and everyone with this problem....You'd think with sooo many people having this kind of issue there would be a clinic of some sort that didnt want to make a buck to help people get on with their lives...How sad that we have this stupid issue that keeps us from living a full life that we deserve...Im on a mission to get over this crap..and maybe I can help people through this terrible...frightening...thing called Panic!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have the same problem. It started in 2009. I was driving and was in a traffic jam and had a panic attack. But it went away and I didn't have any problems again for a couple months.  I am fine driving close to my house and I only work 10 minutes away. Driving to work never bothered me until now, it seems to get worse. I try tricking myself, wearing sunglasses and sunny days usually helps but I just want to be normal again. It affects my life as I have to plan out driving.  I am glad I am not the only one and have been to a counselors. She said I was doing everything right but I just want to nbe normal again. I really feel better knowing that there are other people out there having the same issues.  I get in my car everyday, its not enjoyable by any means, but I do it.
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Just reading this now and unfortunately nothing to say that can fix this,  but im only reading this post from so long ago because I experience the same EXACT feelings every day . Its a horrible feeling, I just try to prepare myself mentally everyday.. And my amazing boyfriend puts up with me with no questions asked, im so great full... Knowing your not alone helps a ton, good luck!  We can get through this lol
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I am so glad to know that my fear of driving doesn't mean that I'm going insane. I actually need to take control of my phobia soon, and I could use support from this community. I'm 26, but I have been driving since I was 22...I started driving late because of my anxieties concerning driving, and I had to receive a few sessions of driving school just to pass the driving test (which I surprisingly passed on the first try). Most people who have been passengers when I drive have told me that I drive safe, but since my car accident in 2012, I have been afraid to drive on certain back roads, and highways for fear of making a mistake or being caught off guard by another driver. I am afraid of driving for many reasons: a lack of trust in myself, the fear that I will have a panic attack, get lost, or cause an accident etc. I need to gain control again over this soon because I am starting grad school, and I have a 1 1/2 commute which includes highways in order to get there. I will also have to drive possibly up to 100 miles one way for required fieldwork. Just the thought what I will have to do within only months from now is freaking me out, but I have to do this to better my life and career options. I have honestly tried to find closer schools in my area for the career I am interested in, but this weekend college was the closest place I could find. When I think about what I am willing to do to avoid long-distance driving or highways it is ridiculous, and it needs to stop. I will need all the support I can get, but again I'm glad that I'm not alone in this.
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I have a friend with this same problem and sometimes she takes alternate routes to her destination-ones that aren't as congested- and it seems to help. Even though it may be a longer route it's worth it to her just to avoid the panic.
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This is amazing. So many posts in here describing exactly what I'm going through. I've had anxiety for the last 6 years or so, but NEVER had a problem with driving... until a couple of weeks ago. I had one little anxiety attack in my car and now it happens all the time because I'm constantly thinking about it.
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Omg I'm not the only one - I loved driving and would be the main family driver on holidays across the US and every where else.  I would be the one in the fast lane flashing the car in front to move over - road rage girl!  I now have to force myself into my beautiful car just to get to work and home again at 40mph pulling over every couple of miles to calm myself down.  I have bottles of lucozade in the car, at home and at work in the hope this will help.  I try distraction, windows open, music on, I'm ok, you got there yesterday, you are nearly there etc etc.  I now do online shopping as I don't feel "safe" anywhere other than home.  Work is getting more difficult as I feel I might pass out or have a seizure in front of people so go to other rooms to avoid this.  My head tingles, my jaw is tight, my stomach is bloated, back aches amongst other symptoms.  I had a seizure last year at work (so embarrassing) and again 2 months ago whilst on my own (cutting my head pretty badly) both of which really freaked me out. I was a confident, healthy, strong person and cannot understand what happened - I just want to be me again.  This is so debilitating and depressing.  I am scared to death I will have a seizure or black out whilst driving, at a client meeting, at work or anywhere really I have a panic attack just thinking about it.  I don't feel able to go shopping, hairdressers or anywhere other than push myself to go to work and get home again.  I really want to get help but cannot even face going to the doctors.  I don't know where to turn but will keep trying to "get a grip" as my husband says and sort myself out.  Any suggestions how to find myself again would be much appreciated.
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OMG! Thank you for these suggestions. I recently have been experiencing anxiety while driving. I drive for a living and just had to take a week off of work to get my mind straight. I have never experienced this before and this just came out of no where. I never felt comfortable driving on the freeway. Surface streets have never bothered me. Every time I get to a red light I freak out, I find myself avoiding the street lights that I know last long. This is ridiculous and I'm so embarrassed that I had to let my work know what is going on to take this week off.
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I'm going to possibly awaken some of you, and for some, you probably already know this. But after reading ALL of these comments (and my heart goes out to all of you because I have been going thru the same thing for about 2 years now), But I have found some things and done some HEAVY research and tried some things myself.

Please know that I am NOT a doctor, and I too always loved driving, and has never had an issue with driving far away or anywhere-unTIL I had a full blown panic attack in the car (it actually "oddly" happened because I was listening to some VERY loud/dance/exciting music that got my heart pumping, and all of a sudden-BAM..the shakes, heart going like I was running, feeling faint, etc...)

Please read everything I'm going to tell you. I hope this helps anyone.

1. MOST of the people who have panic attacks are usually highly anxious people. I AM ONE. OR..most people who are like "us" are because ONE of their parents were anxious people. (ADHD like symtoms (symptoms) all their life), or the fact that whoever raised you- taught you to "fear" the world (my mother had always been that way).

2. MOST people like "us" are not understanding that ANY chemical imbalance/illness/emotions are usually TWO things. 1. DIET 2.LIFE
MOST people are not eating good enough. You eat two ways. Either #1. Acidic food (coffee, black tea, fried food, processed food, meat, dairy, alcohol, fake sugar (aspartame is the WORST- it is a neurotoxin-please RESEARCH IT), anything processed white flour/sugar, etc. #2. Alkaline food (organic, UNprocessed foods (unless made with natural ingrediants only as much as possible), leafy greens, VEGAN Plant based diet.

3. VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES!!! B-12 and MAGNESIUM CITRATE are the TWO **BIGGEST** "most important" minerals that we are depleted of the most because our SOILS ARE DEPLETED from too many farmers' chemicals and pesticides. I have read here people mention B-12 but NO ONE has yet mentioned MAGNESIUM CITRATE (oxide is not the best absorbtion)--and eating acidic causing foods DEPLETE or BLOCK both these important minerals from being absorbed right. ALSO IRON is a HUGE mineral we need to prevent anxiety!

4. When I mention "acidic foods" I am NOT talking about "lemons, limes, etc..."...some acidic foods turn ALKALINE after eating them-fruits and veggies are highly good for you, and so is ORGANIC APPLE CIDER VINEGAR "With MOTHER" in it (the cheap bland acv is NOT the same). These things will help balance your Ph in your body.

HERE ARE THE MAIN THINGS (AND BRANDS) THAT WILL HELP YOU THE BEST:

1. Natural Calm Magnesium CITRATE (powder form-you drink it and you can mix it in any drink-but best with filtered water only since sugar and coffee DEPLETES and blocks magnesium citrate). This brand is the ONLY form of magnesium that has helped me!!! It tastes like Lemon flavored..it is NON GMO, completely organic...it is sold on Amazon (PLEASE READ THE REVIEWS)!! (it is also known to PREVENT heart attacks!!! for those who do have heart problems)

2. Organic Black strap molasses (MUST BE ORGANIC) the best brand i buy from (Amazon) is "Wholesome Sweetners" (ordering online is a anxiety  person's best friend I will add so you spend less time driving to search for these excellent products that I myself TRUST).. Now even tho this stuff tastes bad...it is best to eat 2-3 tbsp on a slice of wholegrain bread with almond butter. That's the only way I can eat it now. But I swear, it calms me down. IRON is soooo important..esp this stuff eases menstural cramps too!!

3.Vitamin B-12-even if you eat meat. (I am 100% vegan only now). But B-12 is highly for those with anxiety. RESEARCH. Again, maginesium CITRATE (like natural calm) works miraculously!!

4. Vitamin D deficiency (sorry about my spelling but I work from home and I am trying to type as much as possible to help eveyrone..so bare with me, as I don't have much time on my hands like I used to). THE SUN DOES NOT CAUSE CANCER...IT IS A MYTH!! Sunscreen BLOCKS Vitamin D aborbtion which causes mineral depletion and causes DEPRESSION. Please research (on you tube) How bad vitamin D is needed for everything (just like magnesium).

Other helpers:

1. St. Johns wort---I drink "Blues Away" Yogi Tea..but if you can find any teas made with this super miracle "herb" that is suppsoably the best for anxiety people...please buy some!! It may take awhile for the stuff to build up in your system..but please research "St. Johns Wort for anxiety".

2. Chamomille Tea (very calming)

3. LAVENDER TEA!!

4. KAVA tea ---please research this wonderful herb!

5.GINGER TEA (ginger is great for the body and keeps body in ph balance) make sure you can find a 100% ginger tea with nothing else added. This is great for immune system as well.

6. ESSENTIAL OILS!!! Ones like: Frankinscense, Mhyrr, Lavender, Chamomile ROMAN, Bergamot, and Lemon are GREAT to put on pulse points to help ease anxiety (they must be used with a carrier oil) PLEASE RESEARCH ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ANXIETY!!

Overall, again I MUST stress more about Natural Calm Magnesium. The bottle is about $25 but trust me..one bottle lasts me about 6 months!! You only take up to two tsp a day!! I drink one tsp 1 HOUR before I drive anywhere (to help it build up and I feel relaxed very quickly) and I drink in a huge water bottle the second tsp mixed while I am driving and back. PLEASE I hope this helps anyone!!

Overall, Please dont depend on Pharma. They might help short term but remember- Pharma drugs do NOT CREATE CURES-THEY ONLY CREATE CUSTOMERS!!!

Please try to eat as alkaline as possible!! Research "acidic/alkaline diet"!!
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I also forgot to add (very sorry)..but Depression is a natural human feeling. I trully believe that people become depressed because we grow up thinking life should become a certain way (due to media and society) as a child. Depression happens because of STRESS in life. Decades ago (in caveman days) we did NOT have too much information being pushed onto us at once (bills, work, kids, babysitters, friends, media, news, internet, cell phones, radio, etc)...THIS is because our brains process way too much information at once. Also GET TOXIC PEOPLE OUT OF YOUR LIFE!! THIS stuff causes stress which when bottled up inside for too long-turns into panic attacks and anxiety!!! I was always an anxious person and grew up with too many thoughts in my head...never had a panic attacks until two years ago, and BAM..I have not driven ALONE in TWO YEARS!! :( But chagning my diet to Vegan plant based, and take magnesium, IRON, B12, etc has greatly helped). The only reason I havnt driven alone yet is because its a MENTAL fear of "the FEAR" of having one WHILE driving. I can control ANY panic attack on my own-except while driving because when driving you cannot just stop the car anywhere at anytime and get out and run or walk around to calm you down, etc..this is my problem.

People don't realize that while driving, you cannot just calm down as much unless there are zero cars on the road with you. It's not that easy. Same thing with rollar coasters..I will not go on them. I think partly because it is any fear associated with "being out of control"..you DO control the car..but you cannot control the "flow of traffic" or when other cars are behind you honking their horns while you are stuck at a green light trying to catch your breath before driving again...this is why.

See. ONCE you have a panic attack,. your brain remembers-and then it associates the incident with the same area and same thing you were in (if it happened in a car-it will happen in a car all the time, if it happened in the shower, it will associate with taking a shower, etc). This is why we fear or avoid anything if we had a panic attack while there.

For anyone who has smoked: QUITTING CIGARETTES GREATLY higherd my anxiety.  I havnt smoked for a year (I use electronic cigs and they work great and I'm still using them because I love them), however---I cannot STRESS to say that the ADDITIVES in cigs are what you are withdrawling from. Its' not the nicotine. If it was, the patch and anything else would work. I was a smoker for 11 years (the strongest kind-Pall malls) and let me tell you- getting OFF the additives really f***** with my brain because you are withdrawling from SO MANY additive chemicals (I have read that some additives in cigs are possibly anti depressant chemicals they put in there) which explains why so many who have quit regular ciggs go into anxiety mode and sometimes it lasts for a year or more!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I was the same way with driving until I tried Carole Fosters EPPLEY MANEUVER. Its on you tube try it , it really helped me.
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wow I just read everything your wrote and I just want to thank you for all that information...I feel like a big loser because I just can't get behind the wheel again after having a panic attach about 6 months ago and I have to get ride to work and back now...I just can't fight that fear off! I hope your doing better.
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Thank you!! It's still hard for me because of my "fear" of having one while driving. I'm only lucky because I run my own online business from home and my husband has a good job so I don't "have" to work. But my only issue now is, my daughter's school was rezoned to a crappy school. So luckily she got into a better school this year, but they don't offer transpertation (it's an "open enrollment" where your child can still continue going to that school EXCEPT they don't offer bus transportation--and the drive is 16 min away), so I'm still suffering from having the courage to drive her to and from. It's not really when she's with me in the car. It's only when I'm driving back alone and then driving "alone" on the way to pick her up :( It's stressing me a lot. But my friend is driving behind me to get me used to it and it is helping. I've also found different routes where I don't have to go through much traffic lights (traffics lights scare me the most)-something about having to "stop" and "wait"..most likely because when we stop, we feel like we cant move again. When driving you are constantly moving therefore you feel you can hurry along or drive somewhere to pull over if needed. So stopping at a light is the biggest issue because I feel once I stop..if I panic, I can't start up again ....that is why people have a hard time. I REALLY trully feel my biggest issue was quitting regular cigarettes. The ecigs I vape work great-but the nicotine level is very low but the additives that my body was withdrawaling from really screwed my mind up because somehow (even after almost 2 years), it altered something in my mind..sigh. Sometimes I feel I should just go back to smoking regular cigarettes. I am TERIFIED of being "medicated" (even tho oddly I trully feel regular ciggs have traces of medication in them since tobacco companies don't have to list 500+ chemicals in them that make you extremely addicted. I never had panic when I smoked. I can't drink or take anything that will make my heartbeat go fast (coffee now frightens me unless I'm not going to drive).

One other thing I recently researched was middle ear issues (which also happens after quitting smoking oddly). Something to do with making sure your middle ear is in good shape because that can escalate anxiety and panic attacks. Even if you don't have any middle ear infections, do get it checked. Also TEETH FILLINGS (mercury fillings) seem to do something to our brains as well). IF ANYONE HAS MERCURY FILLINGS-it is important to go to a HOLISTIC dentist that is EXPERIANCED in removing them safetly as this seems to be another issue with those who have extreme panic disorder.
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