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Weird Driving Anxiety?
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Weird Driving Anxiety?

Please help I am so desperate! I am a 28 year old female, in good health other than this problem I am having.

I have not driven since January. In Jan. I was driving home and a warm sensation came over me and I felt like I was going to faint. I pulled over on the side of the highway, and my husband drove the rest of the way.

Ever since then, I have had the weirdest sensations which make me unable to drive. To sum it up when driving, or in a car, I feel
-like my brain is shutting down; like my light is dimming
-can't comprehend what's going on
-my eyes see everything funny; like I can sense an exaggeration of motion
-dizzy in the lightheaded sense, like I am going to faint
-my brain can't take in everything that my eyes are seeing
-like the feeling right before you nod off
-like I am frozen; body and mind.

As you can see, it is impossible to drive when you have those feelings-- like you're about to faint or nod off.

This happens every single time I am in the car, without fail. It also happens as a passenger, but I can pretty much ignore it because I'm not trying to drive a vehicle.

I have
-had my eyes checked
-ears checked (Vertigo)
-chest x-ray, blood sugar, blood pressure
-CT scan
All normal.

For anxiety I have tried
-desentization (baby steps)
-hypnosis
-xanax
-low dose of zoloft
-beta blockers.
None worked.

I don't know what else to try or where to turn. None of my doctors have ever heard of anxiety manifesting itself in this way, without any of the other symptoms. For example, I don't have anxious thoughts, I don't fear having a panic attack, I don't dread going in the car, no racing heartbeat, no sweating, completely normal breathing.....

Has anyone ever heard of anxiety doing this to someone? I don't know what to do about it, but I am getting depressed being completely dependent on my husband to drive me everywhere. If anyone can help I would be SO grateful. It is such a mystery that no one, not even doctors seem to understand.
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38 Comments Post a Comment
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396099_tn?1216258586
Driving in a car is my #1 place to have an anxiety attack.  I've had them just sitting on the couch watching TV and other places but it's unusual.  It's like when I'm driving I suddenly get some sort of sensory overload (that I don't realize is happening) and panic out.  I've heard other people mention that driving is a common place for them also.

i can't speak to how unusual you manifestations are though.  This is still all pretty new to me.
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349780_tn?1309637558
Anxiety can just come on out of the blue. I am sure many members on here remember when panic first hit them. Could have been whilst out walking. For what reasons? They would have no idea at all. It can be that cruel. Derealisation is something you should look up. Maybe spelt with a Z not an S. You will probably find a lot of what you are describing surrounding that one big word. It will be a start for you. But what we then tend to do is recall that first panic attack / anxiety moment and we may experience it again if in the same situation. Thus we hook one to the other. You might feel that driving might make you more anxious because that was when you first experienced anxiety. Now it all about learning how to deal with it. And it can be dealt with. Sometimes with tablets. Others times with theraphy. Other times a mixture of both. But remember there is always a sollution. May take a while to get there. But with the right kind of help and the willingness not to give in your can make it. Medication is nearly always first suggested. But that is up to your doctor. Counciling is up to you to decide upon. Sadly we have all but a one or two members who would be in a position to talk medication. The rest of us are just people who have suffered ourselves at one point or another. But keep us posted and what you do decide. I am sure other members might add more to this thread. Good luck to you.
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394991_tn?1214259507
Thanks for your response! Those are good words to describe what I am going through-- sensory overload. But it's so bad that I swear my brain decides to shut down. The reason I was never quite sure if it was an anxiety attack, though, was because I didn't really have any other symptoms, and it's not like it only occurs sometimes in the car. It is every single time.  
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489725_tn?1280056153
hi
i have the same thing when driving and lost control of the car twice with it.my heart starts flying and i just cant focus and like u describe very well. i feel like im go to faint.it is a terrible feeling.i have it for about a year now and have been driving for a long time and it just happened me one morning ,really stressed at work and got very overwhelmed at the wheel and had to pull in fact i just about got to pull in.i really felt i was going to pass out ,bunch of tests later and while i do have a svt in my heart that i knew about it was totally different to that .i went back driving the next day and it kept happening to me ,i would only make it so far and i would have to ring someone to collect me cause i would just freeze at the wheel ,so to speak.my doc just put it all down to anxiety.i too tried meds inderal--xanax---sometimes they worked depending on far i had to go but i am very nervous driving still and i have to drive where i live no shop for miles etc.i too dont dread going into the car or being a passenger ,i think maybe it just being in control thing .i would definitely like to hear how someone sorted this -----

let us know
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Avatar_f_tn
I stopped driving for about six months because of fear of having a panic attack while behind the wheel.  After a while, I had a little chat with myself and decided that I wasn't going to let this stop me from getting out there and driving.  I started by driving down to the corner and back, then to the end of the street, eventually around the block and I kept increasing my boundaries until I could go all over the city.  I still don't highway drive, but I can live with that.  Just so you understand, I used to love to drive.  It was nothing for me to go to my daughter's school 2 1/2 hours away by car to pick her up and bring her home for the weekend.  I also drove that same distance in one of the worst snow storms that the region had ever seen.  Life changed and I was housebound for a short time and then unable to drive for six months.  With the help of medication and CBT I was able to drive and get some part of my life back.  I still struggle with agoraphobia but I am  a real fighter and constantly challenge myself.  Restaurants, though are the worst for me and I am working on that.  Anyway, consider trying the method I used and see if it helps.
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394991_tn?1214259507
Hi, thanks for the response. But I want to make it really clear. I am not fearing having a panic attack while driving. It's just this weird feeling that overtakes me that makes it impossible to drive. But it's not like I feel completely normal while driving, but fear that I will all of a sudden have a panic attack.  I have no fear of this; these weird feelings are already and always there.  I also HAVE tried densitization--baby steps. Sitting in the car, pulling out of the garage, driving around the subdivision.  This did not work.  I appreciate your trying to help though.  
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489725_tn?1280056153
i like that method take further each time after im behind the wheel for 10 mins im finished -----and going down hill wooow boy.i really glad for u that it is working .good for u
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480448_tn?1383222375
I think you'll hear from a LOT of people here (as you have already) that driving issues are one of the more common complaints with anxiety.  Just because your presentation varies somewhat, doesn't mean you aren't suffering from driving anxiety.

Logically, if it were ANYTHING else...it would happen other times and at other places, right?  So, there has to be something to that....somehow you are relating driving to these feelings (even if you do not feel "anxious" when doing so).  My guess is...it prolly happened like it did to the rest of us....we had an incident in the car...like you describe...and from there on out...you are anticipating it.  One cruddy thing about anxiety is we often don't let ourselves down....a lot of what we fear manages to happen, which of course scares us even more.

I think you should give therapy and/or meds another try....definitely therapy...and meds if you and your doc feel it would be helpful.  While you may have a lot of variances...I think you are in the same boat a lot of the rest of us are in.  It's hard to go through for sure.

Stick around.....you've landed in a great place!
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm so glad I read this post. the symptoms you described are the EXACT same thing I have everytime I get on the freeway. like exact. even my radio scares me because the sound of the radio starts sounding wierd, and the speed of the cars on either side of me are weirdly seemingly going at different speeds than normal, and I feel like im going to faint and lose control of my car. and everything I see doesnt seem normal, like you described, like I cant take it all in. and then everything starts feeling different, my foot on the peddle my hand on the wheel, the air conditioning in the car, everything. and since I dont want to hurt myself or anyone else on the road I am forced to pull over. The best thing I have found to do, is when knowing im going to drive to take half a xanax beforehand, and then after driving successfully a few times it starts to decrease...i feel bad but it really is so so comforting to hear someone else has these crazy symptoms to a point of exactness that i do.
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394991_tn?1214259507
Moochina,
I also feel comforted that someone understands!  I just wish this happened intermittently and not EVERY time I'm in the car.  Seriously, I feel like it is ruining my life!  What dose of xanax do you take? I tried taking .25mg and .5mg but no effect except it made me very very sleepy.    Also, have you ever tired to explain these weird effects to a doctor?  It is very hard to put into words!  Thanks for understanding!
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Avatar_n_tn
I take .5 mg. and yes, I have..they said its typical panic attack. I actually stopped having the driving problem recently, and I'll tell you the one thing that helped..it was me thinking no one has ever died from a panic attack on the road, i know i feel weird right now but im going to keep driving and let my body do its thing, I know im starting to feel like i shouldnt drive ,but i know its just my panic attack talking and im actually extremely able to drive my car. So i let myself feel weird and i keep driving and keep thinking normal thoughts and i make it home, and it never goes into a full blown panic attack. try this method when your on a back road or somewhere you have a safe place to pull over, and see if it works for you. let me know.
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Avatar_n_tn
also just to let you know I never have racing heartbeat, sweaty palms or anxious thoughts in any of my panic attacks , so the doctors that are telling you this clearly arent very familiar with the millions of kinds of atypical panic disorders that have VERY odd or only some symptoms present, i know this because my doctor is world reknown in the subject and finally i found him by going through lots of doctors that had no idea what they are talking about. so dont think its not a panic attack just because your symptoms are atypical because ALL my symptoms are atypical..just like yours.
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366811_tn?1217426272
I'm going to suggest something completely wacky -but I want you to think about it. How are you on a bicycle? Really. Don't have one? Then buy or borrow or rent one. Ride around the neighborhood. How's that working for you?

How are you on a golf cart or similar conveyance (yard tractor, etc.)? Drive it along the street -see how you do. What about a Moped or little scooter type motorcycle?

You get my drift, here - you want to see how much "car-ness" there is to the problem. Let's suppose that you are actually OK with other kinds of conveyances. At what level of conveyance does the problem start to kick in? Or is it related not so much to the vehicle, but rather to exposure to the challenge and danger of traffic -other folks out there driving around, acting unpredictably, etc.

Is their any chance, any chance at all, that the problem is connected either with an enclosed vehicle, or a PARTICULAR enclosed vehicle? I'm not making this up. Maybe, it is just YOUR car. What about a convertible with the top DOWN -or one of those cute little jeeps? Does it matter if you are in the open air as opposed to being closed in? Find out.

I don't want to scare the willies out of people, but enclosed automobiles are full of chemicals in the air that actually choke some people up. They seep out from the plastic of the dashboard, the upholstery, or junk that built up in the a/c and heating vents, or animal dander left behind. You may even have carried something at some point that left a chemical signature. The action of light rays through the windows can make things happen chemically. It is entirely possible that it is not the car or the driving, but rather inhalation of something which is the trigger or cause. The isolation of your disorder leans that way, in my mind.

That said, "transference" becomes a possibility. What happened in a particular car may mentally be transferred to any car, or the aroma of most cars. You get my point. If none of this process of elimination tells you anything, then look back at January. What ELSE was going on then that might leave a mental footprint. Where were you driving FROM? Why? What was going on in your life at that time? Look at everything.

For right now, we are in "data acquisition mode." Learn as much about the situation as you possibly can.

OK?
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366811_tn?1217426272
I almost forgot. As Freud would have said, "Sometimes a sick car, is just a sick car."
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394991_tn?1214259507
Thanks for your response.  I agree, I am in data acquisition mode. In fact, I bought a bike last weekend. I took it for a ride and I was completely fine.  I have tried driving the two cars that we have- and have the same effect in both. Also, when I am a passenger in anyone's car I get the same effect. I have ridden in lots of different cars besides our own-- friends' and family's cars with the same symptoms.  

I have thought a lot about this and I really do think it's caused by anxiety. I think in Jan. when I was driving home and felt like I almost passed out made me terrified of passing out when driving. Then, by a cruel twist of fate, or something less coincidental, one of the ways I apparently react to anxiety/panic is feeling like I am going to pass out!  

Of course, then I go back and forth.  In other anxiety-inducing occurrences I haven't felt like I was going to pass  out. But now, I DO randomly feel like I'm going to faint when I am standing up, talking to people.  Random people-- strangers, family, friends. No other signs of panic-- just this dizzy/about to black out feeling.    
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394991_tn?1214259507
Moochina,
I agree.... so many of the doctors I have talked to are clueless. I mean, I thought it'd be pretty safe to go to a psychologist, and one who deals with anxiety on a regular basis.  But of the few doctors I've been to, it seems like they have their cookie-cutter client who fit the mold exactly and then don't know what to do with me because I am different. I am so glad you said that these can all by symptoms of panic, even if they don't look like the "textbook" case.  What state are you in? How did you go about finding a doctor who actually understood you?  
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366811_tn?1217426272
OK, NOW you've GOT something! For whatever reason -a song on the radio, something your husband said, a sign along the highway, low blood sugar, HIGH blood sugar - I don't care WHAT it is- you got those faint dizzy deelings AND HAPPENED TO BE IN THE CAR AT THE TIME.

Now, obviously, because you can't know right then and there where the feelings really came from, you go with what you DO know -you were driving the car. And its not as if there's no big deal about driving a car, just remember when you were learning to drive for the first time. And plus, driving is a physical as well as mental high stress action. Which is why, if you've had a hernia operation, you're not allowed to drive for a few weeks. But we drive so often, we've intregrated all that stuff into our experience and don't really think about it. Even so, it is THERE.

And so, on the theory that there was something about to pop in your psychology anyway, the right set of stressors in sufficient force hits that tipping point, and there you go. It could have been anything else; school shopping for the kids, planning a wedding, a profound TV program, church, a political meeting -anything. And whatever it was, you'd naturally associate the anxiety episode with that thing. And every time you encounter that situation again, you are reminded of the incident, and your body and mind "get ready."

But NOW, you've noticed it occurring in other places and situations. Classic. If your doctor is kind of a knucklehead about all this, time to find someone who's a bit more in touch. In general (and your mileage -if I may use that word- will vary) you get checked out for the usual independent causes -and much of this you have already done. Then get a referral for a psychiatric evaluation. This stuff is treatable -curable, even- but you can either take the bull by the horns and deal with it directly, or go through a seemingly endless maze of medications, supplements, books and CD's, religious stuff and all the rest of it. Much of the time, the fix is a combination of medication to help you cope with symptoms and "get along," plus talk therapy to root out whatever background factors are creating the psychological  and emotional pressure. I'd be cautious about just leting a doctor have you "try" this med or that med -go the the "head" person -same as you'd call a plumber for plumbing or electriciam for electrical problems.

All that said, read my journals and those of others to pick up some background info. and experiences, and continue hanging out here so you have some appreciation of the psychological landscape for anxiety and panic.

You're very bright and sound well-disposed to do what it takes to put all the pieces together. And you'll have plenty of company here. So -get a move on, and thanks for posting and being with us.
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Avatar_n_tn
Car anxiety thing.. Yep.. Im a recent anxiety attack sufferer for an "unknown reason" (most likely personal - work/ quarter life crisis related). It is unclear why 2 months ago I went on panic mode... The car for me is the worst. I am usually a busy busy go go go person. I need constant stimulation or my mind gets bored and I begin to focus on "strange" things... Illnesses... etc that aren't even worth thinking about... Silly me I say!  Driving has been very difficult for me. I get very paranoid I will have an attack. Being stopped in traffic is the worst! Especially red lights... If I am moving.. I am fine.. If I am stopped I feel like "eeerrrrr  why am I stopped... I must go. go go now!) Its not "sick" vehicle related for me. I drive 4-5 different vehicles a week and its the same regardless of what vehicle I am in.. But! I feel that when we drive, our minds go on "cruise control" driving is such a task ingrained into our life styles these days that this is a place where "bad habits" form. Bad habits that are difficult to pull out of.. The mind is a POWERFUL tool... Sometimes no matter what you say to yourself it doesnt go away and anxiety sneaks in without knocking... Anxiety for me is funny that way since once you realize some "different" sensation or "theres that damn sensation again" you dwell then get paranoid then before you know it you have generalized anxiety disorder and people tell you that your depressed and need to go on Paxil etc! I wish I knew how to get over it, but I seem to push through it... For me, my head has picked up a bad habit of going someplace else while driving (zoning out ***** too)...  I must have let myself slip into this out of due daily habit...  Any suggestions?
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Avatar_n_tn
O yeah...  Turning up the radio - Talking on the phone.. Singing etc etc really helps make it go away for me..  I also have a stress tomato I squeeze (makes my mind focus on squeezing).. Yeah.. all the things you shouldnt do while driving...
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366811_tn?1217426272
Exactly.

Get to therapy, and get the ziety outta here!
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460185_tn?1326081372
I get really anxious in the subway and in planes.   A lot of it was because I have no control  - the drivers and pilots do.

"Sometimes a sick car, is just a sick car." lol

And as Marx said .... I can't tell you that - I don't speak German  = (

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Avatar_n_tn
Hi everyone.  New to this forum.  I have not been a passenger in a car for about the last fiive or so years.  Very sad.  I, like alot of people here, used to love to drive!  I would drive down to t he Cape to see my Mom who lives there, radio blasting, not minding traffic, etc.  Then one day, me, my husband and my two children were on our way to visit my Mom, when the most strangest sensations came over me.  I literally curled up my legs, felt hot starting from my neck up and yelled  "Pull over!!!"  Of course, my husband thought I was nuts and replied " I can't! We're on the highway!"  The feelings that I got were so hard to explain that no one in my family can really understand, because they do not experience anxiety on any level.  Now, only I drive and my poor husband has been my passenger for the last five years.  He sometimes gets frustrated with me, as he would like to drive instead of  me, but I just can't do it.   I am so  afraid of having another panic attack and so embaressed, that I just simply can't be a passenger.  I have even started having some panic attacks when I have to drive far from home or when it is raining very hard.  It sounds crazy, but I just wish I could find someone out there who might be feeling the same way.  I am a productive memeber of society, as I teach preschoolers five days a week.  I have two beautiful older children and would love to go   visit my Mom without frearing the drive down.  Does anyone have any advice?  Thanks for reading my post.  
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682845_tn?1228669260
I have the exact same problem, however I am a truck driver, and I need to pay off the debt I am drowning in..everyday I get those attax
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Avatar_f_tn
I to get those feelings when I am driving.  I havent stopped driving though because I have kids.  But I start to feel dizzy, My eyes see everything weird,  I get very hot and I feel as though nothing around me is real.  Its scary but I try to distract myself with music or I start to sing or talk with my kids.  Sometimes it doesn't happen but when it does I try to just let it pass and not panic.  I think these are the symptoms of an anxiety attack or a panic attack.  I have been told that it could also be low blood sugar.  Sometimes when I drink a soda when I get those feelings it seems to help.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had my first “driving anxiety” attack in April of 2009; I was 27 going on 28 at the time.

It was at night, on a familiar stretch of road. It was a quiet, single lane road and I was alone on this road until I noticed in the rear view mirror, a car was quickly approaching from behind. I remember thinking I dont want to accelerate because the road is winding and didnt want to end up in a ditch. I became nervous that this was an aggressive driver and so I felt pressured that I had to maintain the speed limit, although my mind wanted to impulsively stop the car. This sensation came over me that I wanted to just slam on the brakes but couldnt, I could only lightly pulse to avoid the other car from crashing into me. My body clenched up and my heart was racing and I felt liking I was falling....same feeling as you get just before the big drop on a roller coaster ride. Stomach is just flipping.
It wasnt until a week later that I had another (less intense) episode on my way to work. I just kept thinking, what was that, whats going on with me? Over the summer, it intensified. I started arriving to work really early to avoid rush hour. Taking side roads home, where there were lower speed limits and more stop lights. Finally I broke down and told my parents what was happening to me. Up until that point it was my secret because of embarrassment. I knew I needed to see my doctor and therefore needed the support of my Mother.
The doctor put me on an anxiety medication that was "deemed" a highly addictive sedative (novo-clonazepam, not sure on spelling) He prescribed only two months worth. It helped instantly... i felt great. Driving at normal speeds and even going back on the highway. Then after the meds ran out he changed it up. He wanted to try Paxil. Tried that for 3 months...nothing, I didnt like it. I went back to my Doctor and asked to go back on the anxiety meds. He gave me a one month prescription. This time however, they did not work. Out of desperation I started upping the dosage, despite what the bottle advised. That worked but I had to ration them. I started feeling like a drug addict. I wanted to just brake down and cry. I also tried hypnotherapy, had blood tests taken for thyroid, as well as a cat scan but those tests came back normal and hypnotherapy was just a waste of money. Ive always wondered if it was related to the ears (equilibrium and balance).  I had bad ears as a child so Im wondering if there is fluid build up. I havent checked into this, I dont know why, but people around me keep saying "Its all mental" and "mind over matter" ...is it??? There seems to be people out there with the exact same issue so this leaves me wondering if there is an ailment out there not yet discovered.

To this day, I still cope with this issue of driving. Although I have support from my close friends and family, with whom Ive shared this secret with, no one truly understands the physical and emotional state that I live with everyday. I wish everyday I could go back in time to before this happened, as I too, loved to drive. That love has now turned to fear.

Ps: I have been driving since 1999.
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1438750_tn?1302823043
Anyone thought about a convergency disorder.... where your eyes do not see properly at the same time.... even the slightest bit off (one eye is stronger than the other).

I have all of these same problems, but was checked by a low vision specialist who said my eyes were not bad with tracking. However, there are people who claim there are better tests to do and they fix it with prism lenses. It can cause all of these symptoms... just google it. I think the place is in Michigan that specializes in it.
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3239871_tn?1346704062
Hi mcsnick,

The one thing you don't mention is whether you've tried therapy.

Actually, I think the symptoms you describe here are fairly typical of someone who has somatic-based panic attacks. There's not much psychological anxiety about driving - you don't dread it or obsess about doing it - but your body exhibits all the symptoms of panic disorder when you drive.

I've lost most of my faith in doctors being able to do anything beyond vague statements about stress and then waving the prescription pad, even psychiatrists. Doctors and medications are actually fairly useless for most anxiety disorders because all they can do is treat symptoms, not causes.

The cause of your driving anxiety is some sort of malfunctioning linkage between your brain and body sensations, but only when you drive. Here's my recommendations for the best way(s) to deal with this problem:

* A good anxiety treatment therapist who specializes in phobias. A good hypnotherapist could help you re-train your brain / body connections and also how you respond to feelings of driving anxiety.

* A self-help program specifically for driving anxiety sufferers like Driving Peace (drivingpeace.com) or Driving Fear (drivingfear.com). The Panic Away program also has a pretty good section on driving anxiety (panicaway.com).

* Relaxation techniques you can use in the car.

* EMT and / or EMDR. You can learn EFT yourself (tapping.com) or get a therapist for it. EMDR is generally best practiced with an experienced therapist.

Hope this helps. Thanks for being brave enough to share about this. You're not alone!

Greg
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Avatar_m_tn
Similar to me. Was on a road I always travel on, nd had someone come up behind me very quickly. I panicked but managed. Week later i thought of the incident and had anxiety again when driving. Tol dmy mom about it and she understood. I kept driving to beat it and i'm getting better. still get a bit anxiety in heavy traffic but its getting better
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm another person glad to find im not alone but sypothetic to this condition.  I am a 27yr old male and used to love driving.  I used to be so comfortable in any condition driving for any period of time.  But about two years ago had this "feeling" that scared me so much.  A lot of the symptoms other commenters have mentioned is what I'm feeling,  with slight variations.  It's really hard to explain the feeling,  but here goes.

The feeling can be mild or severe almost every time I drive for more than 10 mins (highways at night are the worst) slower streets with traffic lights don't bother me.   I'm fine for about 10 mins but any longer and the feeling sets in.  These are the words I would use to describe it: trancelike, dizzyish, foggy (but I can see clearly), abit vertigo ish,

When the feeling happens I notice I tap my foot rapidly and comb my hand though my hair,  everytime without me choosing to do it. I immediately open the window when this happens thinking it'll help.  Also I just wanna close my eyes but obviously cant because I'm driving.

Highways  when there is a lane each side of me with lots of traffic seems the worst.  I find that when I do shoulder checks and look in mirrors this leaves me with a dizzy sensation. So when lots of traffic is around that's probably why it effects me most,  with all the head turning.  When I get to my destination I have that feeling, how did I get here I don't remember all of the journey.  And have to decompress for 30 secs or so.

I've also noticed that days after alcohol is consumed it happens a lot more frequent with heavier symptoms.  

This is ruining my life and need it solved like a lot of people here.  I have had my eyes checked with no issues.  

Lets work together people,

Cheers
Ben
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same sort of problems going on with some of you.

about 10 months ago i was driving in rush hour traffic, in December(so it was dark)--- as I was switching lanes I got really bad vertigo. I had to pull over. I continued to feel "off" for a week or so. Every month, this weird light headed, "out of it" feeling would occur. I would notice it at all times of day- but mostly while driving. IT happened just before or during my monthly cycle. Then, I would be fine 3 weeks of the month.

I went to the Dr. where they told me it was anxiety or pmdd. They put me on zoloft.  I was on zoloft for 5 days (i know therapeutic effects take weeks) but I felt immediate negative side effects. I could not eat, sleep, I was jittery, heart racing. I was driving to work one day and I had a panic attack driving down the highway. That is when my phobia started. I started takign Buspar--not sure if it is helping or not...
I am in therapy. I start to make progress then once my pms cycle comes around my anxiety is high- i feel depressed (mainly because I get those weird feelings)
I feel like i cannot focus, like i'm in a dream, dizzy, etc. When i drive during this time I regress immensely and then the cycle starts again. ITs very frustrating.

I am wondering if it is only anxiety or if maybe i have some inner ear issues also since its so much exacerbated during my pms time...
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm glad I found this forum. I'm a 28 year old female. I use to love driving everywhere. After my weird incidents that started last year, however, driving scares me so much! I've noticed this strange feeling also happens when I'm not driving. Its happens at work, at the store, out with friends. It makes me want to just stay home. I've experienced it at home too, but I'm not as anxious. Driving is by far the worse time to have this happen.

The first time I experienced the weird symptoms I was driving on the freeway. I started to feel extremely tired and weak, especially my arms and legs. I was having such a hard time holding the steering wheel and pressing on gas pedal. I was afraid I was going to fall asleep going 70 mph. It felt like my brain was shutting down. It couldn't process what I was doing fast enough. I relate it to my body having a low battery and its about to die. I felt like everything was shadowed, not fully colored. I felt very hot, but my skin was cold. My ear started ringing and got really hot. The music on the radio started to get very distant and quiet. Everything seemed like it was tilting and not real, very dream-like. I felt very out of my body, but at the same time in my body not connected somehow, like maybe my body and spirit were apart (Hard to explain) My heart was pounding, I felt like I wasn't breathing right. I kept wondering if my lungs were even working. I luckily was able to get off the freeway right away.

I was almost to work, I had to wait at a red light, (which now every red light makes me anxious) and I was on the verge of fainting. I kept wondering if I should put the car in park, just in case I fainted. I was talking to my sister on the phone when all of this first happened. I told her I didn't know what was wrong, that I felt very weird, and I had to go because I was going to pass out. When I got to work, I tried to breath and relax to get rid of that feeling. I asked my supervisor if I could have the day off. While asking her, I had to sit down because I couldn't see right- I had vertigo. She asked if I was having a panic attack. I told her no, I just felt strange. I didn't think I was having a panic atack. I've seen people having panic attacks and I wasn't hyperventilating.

By the time I got to the ER, most of my symptoms passed. In a way, I wanted to still have the symptoms so the doctors could see what I was going through and diagnose me with something. I'd rather have a diagnosis than have them say nothing's wrong. They did an EKG and a chest xray. The only thing that was slightly abnormal was elevated oxygen levels. (Due to breathing a lot of deep breaths.)  I told the doctor that I thought it was anxiety related, he told me not to jump to that conclusion. That it could be because I had a head cold. Come on, I've had many head colds and they never made me feel like this. The doctor taught me how to breathe out of my nose and then he sent me home. I thought, what a waste of a visit! That's when I decided to research this. It's nice to find similar experiences as mine.

Check out articles on depersonalization/derealization. I'm pretty sure this might be what some of us have experienced.

Thank you for sharing everyone and take care!
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Avatar_m_tn
To everyone who is suffering from driving problem , weird feeling while driving.
I am on the same boat. I had my frist panic attack on the motorway, when i felt like i will die, some how managed to get to the work and see doctor from there. It didn't improve, but made things worse and even worse for me. i tried yoga breathing techniques and from there on more panic attacks started. more fobias. but the important part on how i overcame my phobias.
It happened to me when life became very busy for us and stressful, use to drop my wife to her new job, about 50 mins drive to her work, and then backwards to my work, and then night time pick her up again, and had filed my permanent residency at the same time, was really stressfull time for me.  and panic attack happened.
I had no choice but to continue work otherwise my residency was in danger. and to do that i started using public transport train. next thing i did was, sent my wife for driving lessons, and got her to get license, i would sit with her and direct and instruct her.
Over the time developed all different types of phobias, don't wanna mention them in case you guys get more scared.
now because of the need of hour i had to continue work, i continued my work at all the costs , even though i was feeling worst then hell.
found people over the time who had these experiences before, kept discusing with them , which relieved me over the time.
now i stopped doing all the activities i use to do for leisure  all together because of panic attacks and anxiety. but i never gave up on my work.
after a 5 months i decided to start going out, as my wife was not feeling happy at all i could see, because we use to do lot of fun.
We went to the mall and then we went some more places and then we went to see friends we haven't spoken to in months. I tried driving, first day was bad, second day slightly better, third time slightly more better. and 1 day wife got sick at work , went to pick her up in the car, and she was so sick that she asked me to drive back, now this time when i was having awfull feelings behind the wheel, it started turning into more confidence, and no anxiety any more,
Anxiety came back again, then agin 1 another day, started driving wife asked me to drive, i did driving for morning till afternoon, with her sitting beside me. and i never felt as good before, when i could drive like before after 1 hour of driving.
So the key to driving and all other fobias is to be active. and have support like how i did, having my wife sitting beside me gives me security , if anything goes wrong she is there to drive from there for me, but trust me it only gets after after you drive for 30 an hour and continue from there, it gives you inner happiness, and keep meeting all the friends you know, keep going out,
And for your guys security , i would say purchase a full car insurance for yourself it will sort of give you security for your ride as well.
Keep doing things with the annoying feeling, and one day sun will rise for you guys, do take counselling , it really helps, always remember it is very slow recovery process, and definately you will all get there, just a matter of patience.

Another trick for any negative feelings is, acknowledge the thoughts, and then thinking your upper head is the chimney, let it out from there, definately will help you get out the clutches of negative thoughts as well. i m more over 95 percent better. still working on it, untill i kick this mofo
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Avatar_f_tn
I feel for u.. I have the sane symptoms.. hints why I saw million Dr.s and had MRI thought I was going crazy.. I still deal with it..starting therapy and acupuncture this week to help I pray!!
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Avatar_f_tn
I feel for u.. I have the sane symptoms.. hints why I saw million Dr.s and had MRI thought I was going crazy.. I still deal with it..starting therapy and acupuncture this week to help I pray!!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello!! I am having the same problem as you;( have you found a cute yet??? I thought I was going crazy and did not know how to explain my symptoms to anyone! But you listed everything I am going through ! Please write to me
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello!! I am having the same problem as you;( have you found a cute yet??? I thought I was going crazy and did not know how to explain my symptoms to anyone! But you listed everything I am going through ! Please write to me
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Avatar_f_tn
When I read everyones posts...We all have the same symptoms...Horrible sensations when feeling anxious...And with so many of us having phobias and anxiety...asking why?? I have read sooo many sites..books...ect... and its funny that there hasnt been anyones stradetgy that has worked...I don't know maybe Im looking for that magic pill...I have suffered with driving phobia for 15 years...I live in a small town...not close to any interstate driving for practicing...I feel completely fustrated..unless I move to bigger town...I don't know how I would ever be able to get help with this??? There just dosent seem to be any answeres...Maybe a Driving Phobia specialists????Anyone out there that has the answere to help soo many without trying to make a buck!!!!
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480448_tn?1383222375
Hello and welcome!

You've tacked your reply onto a very old thread.  If you want to get more input, I would recommend starting a new thread.

"Driving anxiety" is a very common occurrence among anxiety sufferers, especially those with panic.  It's more or less a symptom of the thought process, the "what iffing" and "fearing the fear".  It's very similar to a PTSD reaction.

Anxiety sufferers don't like to be in situations were they feel they have no control, or cannot "escape" easily, which can make driving a nightmare.  Traffic jams, bridges, tunnels, ALL create that anxious feeling because of that fear of being "trapped" in an inescapable situation.  Even though we rationally KNOW we wouldn't be stuck in traffic forever, it doesn't matter, we're wired to react, especially if we've had multiple panic incidents in a car.  Anxiety sufferers also very often fear "losing control" of themselves which makes the idea of being in control of a 2 ton block of steel a scary idea.

There IS no magic pill of course.  The answer lies in retraining the brain NOT to fear driving, just like you would retrain it not to fear a grocery store where you've had a panic attack, or not to fear a certain food that you ate right before a panic attack.  It's really basic conditioning.  

The best way to tackle these fears is to face them, preferably with the help of a professional, like a therapist.  We need to learn how to send a message to our brains that there isn't anything to fear.  This conditioning takes time, and it isn't easy for sure.  You have to accept that you WILL be uncomfortable at times.  Pushing yourself is necessary.  A good therapist will work with you in setting realistic goals and then helping you achieve them.  Then your goals will grow.  If possible, find a therapist who is well versed in CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy.  If possible, find a therapist who will do HANDS ON work with their patients in real life scenarios.  A therapist who would actually accompany you on your missions to face your fears.  That really is the way to go.

Hang in there....if you need anymore help or support, please start your own thread.  Update us on how you're doing!
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