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feeling faint while driving
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feeling faint while driving

I have had some scary symptoms while driving that have begun within the past 3 years.  I often get dizzy feeling, like I'm going to faint, my vision seems to narrow in, I get pressure in my head, my hands get cold and clamy, it's almost like I'm losing consciousness and have to constantly refocus.  When the car stops, the symptoms seems to alleviate.  Sometimes when I stop the car, it looks as though I'm still moving.  Sometimes this happens when I'm tired, but sometimes not.  Also, it seems to get worse the faster I drive.  It's so bad that I can't drive on long road trips for fear of passing out.  Interestingly, it doesn't happen when I'm a passenger, which my doctor says rules out motion sickness.  I've only been on an airplane one time, but it happened then as well, just in a milder way.  My doctor says I am having anxiety attacks, but I don't feel anxious at all until it begins.  I have BPV and Meneires (diagnosed about 10 years ago) and my question is, could it be the Meneires triggering these sensations, thus causing anxiety, or could it be anxiety triggering the Meneires, which triggers these symptoms?  Or is it the BPV, all of the above, none of the above?  Help!!??
Thanks
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147426_tn?1317269232
You pose some interesting questions with some remarkable insight.  What you describe sounds like you are having classic anxiety, if not panic, attacks.  All of your symptoms point in that direction.  My opinion is that your vestibular disorders cause the attacks and not primary anxiety.  

I think that the trigger might be be speed or possibly acceleration.  This points to the vestibular system where you have 2 documented disorders.  Of the two I think BPV  (Benign Paroxysmal Vertigo) is the most likely culprit.  I don't think it would be BPV itself (which felt to be loose otoliths in the semi-circular canals), but possibly related to the adjacent organs which sense acceleration and deceleration.  Often in BBPV there is more than one site with the inner ear affected.  Was your BPV adequately treated?  If so, has it ever returned?  Is it still a problem?

Meniere's on the other hand, being overload of fluid within the inner ear, typically responds more to pressure.  Actually that is an oversimplification.  Established Menier's can flair up with just about any kind of provocation:  Changes in altitude (flying, driving over a pass) changes in barometric pressure (significant weather shifts) but also stress, fatigue, infections, head congestion and diet.

In any case you have suffered some significant insults to the inner ear which will likely plague you to one extent or another for life.  The episodes that you experience in the car may stem from the stimulation of the damaged vestibular system.  

As I understand them, anxiety attacks, after the initial one(s) don't come from you getting anxious or feeling fearful or stressed.  In the beginning a person suffers a stressful event.  Often it may be a medical illness with frightening symptoms.  There are few symptoms as terrifying as the sudden paroxysm of BPV - feeling like the world is whirling aobut you or, in my case that you are falling at 100 mph - and frequently causing you to fall and lose control.  They may not last long, but the effects of suffering them do.  Also terrifying is a severe Meniere's attack with the long (sometimes hours) of world whirling, nausea, vomiting, and fear that the first attack will kill you.  The anxiety or panic suffered initally is totally appropriate and understandable.  That anxiety is produced by the body's defense "fight or flight" response.  This response is produced by neurotransmitters and their friends.

Many experts in anxiety believe that the cascade of neuro-chemicals which cause panic/anxiety attacks later gets repeated at the very "suggestion" that the event might occur again.  By this I mean that when the body perceives the possible beginning again of that awful event (even well below the conscious level) the neurochemicals are released, which then cause the symptoms of anxiety.

So as you are driving along, the acceleration of driving, with it's inevitable decelerations - slows and stops as you maneuver traffic, intersections, passing cars, differing speed limits - may stimulate your damaged vestibular system even if mildly.  Your body "fearing" an impending attack of BPV or a Menier's attack responds as if it was already happening.  You feel anxious, light-headed, maybe terrified, your heart starts pounding and you remember that this happened the last time you tried to take a trip.  That would explain why you don't start out anxious.  Somewhere in a longer drive the vestibular system gets stimulated enough and you suffer the consequences.

It would seem that if you could stop the cascade of events (take a preventative) for the anxiety, you would probably be able to take your long drives which you have curtailed.  From personal experience I know that the vestibular symptoms aren't easily suppressed.  BPPV, coupled with a traumatic hole in my inner ear, and chronic labyrinthitis caused me to lose my career as a pediatrician and I remain disabled by chronic vertigo now, 6 years later.  For me even a short drive to the grocery store stimulates my dizziness to the point of often needing sedation.  I rarely leave the house anymore.  

As a aside, my best friend has horribly severe Menier's. She finds that driving long distances (not so much in town) calms her symptoms and relaxes her, though she does has a strong fear of suffering a bad attack away from home.

I suspect, having already gotten the two diagnoses you have a good physician to treat them.  If not, you can find a neuro-otologist (vestibular specialist) by going to the Vestibular Association of America website (VEDA).  They publish a list of specialists and clinics.

I could be wrong here, but I know vertigo well.  I also know that a great number of people with anxiety attacks know that they ARE NOT in danger, but something triggers the reaction anyway.  It's one of the great misunderstandings that people have about these attacks.  They are not set off by a persons 's fears, but by a semi-automatic response of the body.

As is often the case, I have gone on and on.  My thinking is getting foggy trying to focus on the screen  (I have a lot of eye-jerking from the vertigo), so blessedly I'll be quiet now.  I hope this epic discourse holds some help for you.  If you want to ask any questions about what I was trying to explain, please ask.  At night I'm not always very clear.

Good luck, Quix
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Avatar_n_tn
Wow, thanks so much for the comment.  What you say makes total sense, it's just being able to "get over it" (the anxiety) when I'm driving.  I know I need to be well rested, which helps the balance issues, before I drive long trips.  But, it doesn't take long for me to get tired.  My eyes get tired easily and want to shut by themselves, like I'm losing consciousness.  I'm sorry to hear that you had to leave your job because of this.  At one point I thought, "How can I work like this?--I'm a teacher".  But, the BPV comes and goes and I take Meclizine (which has it's own side effects) when it flares.  I think it's the Meneires that brings me the most trouble.  It's so constant.  I try to accommodate my diet-decrease salt, caffeine, etc...  but none-the-less, it's there.  I have to say, through prayer I have conquered quite a bit of all of this.  Without my faith in Jesus, I'm not sure I'd make it through.  Well, thanks again for the info and maybe we'll talk again soon.
Take care!
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147426_tn?1317269232
Can'tr do it tonight.  I did a couple answers on my way to you and have had it.  Can't focus and I hurt!  I have some very definite things to say.  Please stay tuned!!  Quix
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147426_tn?1317269232
BPV is TOTALLY treatable.  Why don't we talk a little and see if we can sort it out?  Also I wrote an epic discourse on vertigo on 5/21 called "Information on Vertigo."  If you want, read it and post there and we can talk about your problems with driving.

Quix
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello. I found particular interest in these posts as they are exactly what I am experiencing. Can you tell me, where can I find your epic discourse on vertigo, "Information on Vertigo"? Thank you!
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Avatar_m_tn
Greetings, There is also another known disorder called, "vertical heterophoria syndrome". Type that into a google search. The site in Birmingham MI is the one that helped me. Check out the testimonials and symptoms. The ones about driving are what interested me. There is no surgery and no meds. After going to all sorts of specialists, including MRI, CT scan, ENT, ENG and countless blood tests, all negative, it was the only thing that worked. Unfortunately. There are only three specialists in the USA. One in California, Texas and Michigan. The one in Michigan was the only doctor that helped. It was the driving episodes that bothered me most. Especially stopping and everything else kept moving. A lot of you mention your eyes get tired and you have trouble focusing. That is because it "is" your eyes that are the problem. Not any optometrist can diagnose the "syndrome", as mine said I was fine. He was wrong. Good Luck. I have nothing to do with th Birmingham site, just trying to help as I was helped and oh yeah, the anxiety stopped immediately afterwards, so did the headaches.

lognum
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598974_tn?1221679062
For the 5th time in the last year I went on a long road trip and it was not even that long!! I had to pull over like 5 times within a hour and a half ! I kept feeling like passing out and get a wierd vision feeling but I can still see everything clearly. It just seems like the road is closing in on me or something. I have never had any problems driving or with my vision ever before.  I dont understand what is going on. But I cant drive long distances anymore in fear I will get in an accident with my kids in the car.  I am 26 and as far as I know have no vision problems and dont understand why all the sudden I am having problems driving long distances? I dont ever have this problem while driving in town?  Please help.  
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Avatar_n_tn
i/m also feeling fain on long driveing, or as a passenger, this happens at movies as well or theatre I may nod off for 10 -15 min, or at a long speech, any one have ideas

tam
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Avatar_f_tn
Hello fellow anxious dizzy drivers - I may have found a simple and free solution to our problems - BREATH - please read on: I'm a 30 year old male from New Zealand and have had pretty much all the symptoms of above posts, slowly getting worse over the past 6 years since I developed OOS and also put my lower back out when I was 24 (which was basically a result of terrible posture, weak core strength and a high pressure job with a lot of time spent at a badly structured computer station).

I was anxious about the symptoms, but they only became a debilitating problem for me at the end of 2009 when I had a panic attack while driving at high speed on the motorway. I was very stressed at the the time as I was intensively working on a feature film script and also about to get married!

I found this forum 3 or four months ago and began occupational rehabilitation therapy after reading the post about somatoform syndrome. This has been a big help with relieving the neck pain and building better postural strength so that I can actually sit in a healthy position while driving i.e. not slumped forward with my neck tilted and pinched at the back - basically retraining my body so as to get rid of all the old bad muscle memory.

But my big break through was when I went to a new GP recently for a check up. I had it in my head that I might have an inner ear infection and that might relate to the dizzyness etc, but alas no infection to blame - however when we discussed my symptoms of dizzyness, loss of balance, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, erratic heart beats etc she clicked that all the symptoms where text book HYPERVENTILATION SYNDROME. I have unknowingly been an "under-breather", which means I take tiny short breaths into my lungs. This under-breathing causes us to have a lack of oxygen and when our body doesn't get enough oxygen we panic and feel faint and dizzy - it's a primitive fight or flight type reaction, but it's very unhealthy to be living in a constant state of anxiety about fight or flight!

I have only just started to retrain my breathing technique but have already noticed that if I catch myself feeling dizzy I just need to start taking healthy breaths in and out again (simply put: 3 seconds breath into diaphram - not into chest - and 4 seconds out) I also plan to take up meditation classes to help with my breathing retraining and you probably should too, but in the meantime do a search for healthy breathing techniques/exercises and start practicing!

I hope this helps!
All the best
Luke
      
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm a 46 year old man and I never have had trouble driving. Now, when on the interstates, almost immediately as I pick up speed, I feel like I'm going to faint and cause injury to myself and to others. My vision narrows.
It's debilitating. I even get this feeling on regular roads when the lanes widen or when I'm in an area that is not familiar to me.
I take Xanax, but that does not seem to help the problem. Could Xanax be causing the problem?
My doctor wants me to go in to a neurology specialist to have my brain scanned.
I felt like sobbing when I read all of your posts. I thought that I was the only one in the world experiencing this condition.
I don't want this condition to limit life's opportunities. I even get fearful when  going over the overpasses. When I look down at the interstate, I just want to pass out right there.
Please, someone help me.
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Avatar_m_tn
I feel I owe it to anyone who suffers from what I suffer from, and hope that they all find this post, related to driving or not --- but it sounds like you are all suffering from panic attacks/anxiety attacks. Which has been mentioned in this thread.. But I feel I must share my story and go into more detail.

I was 20 years old, driving on RT 80 from PA toward Long Island... I was a smoker at the time, and had just finished a cigarette. Threw it out my window.. rolled it up.. two seconds later my vision closed in on me, my chest got tight and it was difficult to breathe, and before I knew it I was pulled over to the side of the road in sheer terror. I felt as if I were dying, everything was spinning and I was sure death was upon me. Said my prayers, apologized to the lord for things i've done in my life, and was preparing for my certain death. Called my parents, told them I loved them, and they should try to hurry and get to me while they still can (2 hours away). By the time they got there, I had felt okay. Very confused, I thought I was still drunk from the night before, and this was the result of it. However it had scarred me from driving for a very long time. From that moment on I could not even drive around the block without feeling like I am going to pass out or faint while driving. This is of course the BIGGEST inconvenience to anyone with driving capabilities --- to be reduced to walking or bumming rides from other people. However I live in New Jersey, and my Girlfriend lives on Long Island. So I had to suck it up and get over this "fear of driving and passing out." It had been about a week since this escapade, so I figured I'd reschedule my original plans to go to Long Island. However...Anxiety had other plans. It was my best friends 21st birthday the night before I planned on going to Long Island, so I had about 6 beers and hung out -- no big deal. OR so I thought.. About 6 o'clock that morning, I awoke from my sleep in sheer terror. Room closing in on me, once again couldn't breathe, and felt like I was going to pass out or die. So I screamed for my parents and said "we need to go to the hospital, I'm having another episode." So after long hours and tests in the hospital, a Psychiatrist finally came to the conclusion I was having Panic Attacks. These babies (I can't say this legally for sure) I believe may have came from drinking too many "Four Loko". I had just bought my first house, and was having about 2 Four Loko a night, for about 6 days straight. 1 Four Loko is the equivalent of about a 6 pack of beer; except has MANY other dangerous chemicals in it. My Psychiatrist had said I was going through alcohol withdrawal, and panic attacks were a symptom. Thankfully, no one has ever died from a panic attack, it just feels as if you are going to. Anxiety/Panic is something learned, not something instilled. Once your body learns panic, its very hard to forget it. You need to realize your brain can out think you and outsmart you, and it can be difficult to talk yourself down from a panic attack. However, it is possible and gets easier with time. The moral of this long lengthy story is to let others know you are NOT alone and you do NOT have anything life threatening wrong with you. I was unable to drive for about 3-4 months until I learned how to deal with the anxiety. Bridges in particular were the worst, knowing that if I had to pull over I could not. Also highways were bad because the faster I went, the more nervous I got and the more "panic" I experienced. For a very long time I thought it was an inner ear issue that disturbed my balance, but quickly came to realize it was just me, being a prisoner of my own mind. Any one who can relate to this, knows that panic attacks feel like certain impending doom. That you are dying for real, in the real world. Imagine getting your first one, while doing about 70 MPH on the highway? Thats enough to scare the crap out of anyone, and prevent them from driving for a long time. There are many ways to cure panic, (yes I said cure). I have been panic attack-free for about 4 months now. And don't plan on letting them come back. Panic attacks will ruin your life if you let them -- relationships, jobs, and most of all your own perspective on the world. For a few months I couldn't even sleep through the night without being shaken awake by my own mind and be petrified of having an attack. But that is the fact of the matter... The FEAR of the attack is what gets people worse than the actual attack. Being in constant nervousness about having an attack is enough stress to actually give you one or have you borderline freak out. So.. what do I recommend? I for one, recommend NOT medicating yourself, I have been medicated and honestly you are better off dealing with it naturally. I've been on lexapro, klonopin (xanax), the whole 9 yards. Panic isn't easy to over-come, but when you get sick of it ruining your life, you'll go to any extreme to rid of it. The best NATURAL way to avoid it is BREATHING. Sounds pretty stupid I must admit, but it is the best way to relieve your sympathetic nervous system of this trauma. Do something called 7-11 breathing. Inhale for 7 seconds, and exhale for 11. If you can't do this, just try to breathe out at least a second longer than you breathe in. And in about 2 minutes (the longest two minutes of your life), you'll have reduced your panic by what I can personally say is about 65% - 75%. Another thing that works well (personal opinion, not medical fact)? Smoke. Yes I said it. Smoke the green stuff, it helps more than any prescribed drug you will get with no side affects. However --- take precaution with this method. Sometimes drugs (if you can call it that) like that have the adverse affect on people with anxiety. (For example, it's supposed to chill you out, but may make you twice as erratic). There are many ways to get over panic, but the BEST way is to realize you are having a panic attack, and tell yourself that. When you feel one coming on or if its too late and you already feel like death is upon you, just tell yourself "it's only a panic attack, it can only hurt me if I let it". Just like Hoodoo or a ghost, if you don't believe in it, it can't terrorize you.

If this helped one person, be it some one who realizes they have anxiety and don't know how to deal with it, or someone who has similar terrors while driving and had no idea who to turn to, then my work is done. And I empathize with anyone who has this disorder, and will talk to you and try to help you with it all that I can. Just reply to this post and reach out if you suffer from this, and I'll do my best to get back to you. Live well, and remember, you don't have to be trapped within this phobia, you can beat it. God bless.
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Avatar_f_tn
i have been feeling very tired and stressed lately with my job. I travel alot with my job. I have been feeling faint and dizzy lately. when driving i feel as though my body is moving faster than the car and i have to refocus. My eyes seem to not focus on people when i am listening to them and i have to refocus like my eyes are crossing. I cant look at people for too long listening to them fear of my eyes going crazy. i have been throwing up in the middle of the night and feel naseated during the day with slight head aches. I feel like i am exhausted. whats wrong with me?
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Avatar_m_tn
davi ---

I had verrrry similar symptoms. Like I was over exhausted even if I got a good nights sleep. Felt very disconnected from other people like I couldn't be a part of the conversation because I kept drifting off and having to refocus and try to remember what they just said.

either way, I am no doctor, but nearly POSITIVE you have symptoms of anxiety/depression.

i used to throw up EVERY morning my senior year before i drove to school. turns out this was anxiety, because I was always afraid of being late. didn't realize this till about 3-4 years later.

your brain is in overdrive right now, and its working so hard it literally makes you physically tired. like i said in my earlier post, your brain can out think you. it will work you over in ways you don't even realize. my suggestion to you is get more sleep at night, if you're waking up you are probably just bugging out about having to wake up in 'x' amount of hours. just like i used to throw up before class because i had 'x' amount of minutes to get there on time, or i'd get detention. you see?

as for the car bit, i dont know whats up there. My issue was that my first panic attack was in the car, while i was alone. so i was always afraid to have another one while i was driving. thus my anxiety would kick in and i'd feel like my vision was slow, as if to say if i was looking both ways before crossing an intersection, when i looked right, i would already be looking left before my vision caught up with me. same deal with looking down at my spedometer, by the time i looked back at the road, i could still see the number clearly, even though i was looking at the road.

hope this helped.
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Avatar_f_tn
Interesting! I was driving tonight for the first time ever, it felt like I was driving on a walking machine. The car was moving but it felt like the road was moving forward towards me. I drive alot and have never had this, I have been experiencing alot anxiety lately and thought it might be the cause so I stopped and did a quick meditation session in the car to relax. Once I was relaxed I started driving again and it was back and I was definitely relaxed and calm. My back and neck has been hurting more than usual lately though, and I also hear my pulse in my right ear 24 hours a day for about 4 years now. Might go to the doctors and check out my back and ears
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi all,

I had the same thing that Taravalene has been experiencing. Like driving a car on a walking machine. I felt like I was playing video game. Im stationary but the world is moving towards me. Its really scary especially when Im driving alone. This is elevated when Im driving long distance and its raining. It hurts my eyes a whole lot as Im trying to concentrate. I tried looking elsewhere (to re-calibrate my eyes) just for a second and looking back to the road but it is still the same. I will get terrible headache and irritated at the end of the journey. I will also feel extremely sleepy and tired.

:(  Any suggestion on how I can avoid this or any diagnosis for this?
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Avatar_f_tn
Also, I feel like I only took half a second to look at the side mirror or the rear mirror to see if there is a car and by the time I look back at the road in front of me, the car in front would be so close to me that I have to hit the emergency break. (the car in front me was at a safe distance before that). Sad to say, I have had accidents before because of this. The symptoms is getting worst by the day. I told my bf that I have to take driving lessons all over again because I thought I was getting worst at driving. As usual, we just laughed it off.

I have had 2 major car accidents before this (not because of this symptom) where the car turned 360 degrees a few times before it stopped. One was about 7 years ago and one 2 years ago. I was driving when the first happened but not the second time around. I never had any trauma because of that as I continued driving the very next day of both the accidents. I have considered delayed trauma when my first symptoms happened (2 years ago). Also, my dad passed away because Motor Neuron Disease and Im not sure if its hereditary. Anyone can shed some light on this matter?
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Avatar_f_tn
I too have a similar condition.  I havent been diagnosed with anything as I gave up on doctors and the whole medical industry in 2004 when I was sent home from the hospital with pneumonia and ended up in a coma with a collapsed lung and nearly died.  I did however, go to the hospital in 2009 when I got vertigo.
The doctor seemed to think the vertigo was brought on dehydration but I think the vertigo caused the dehydration from puking so much.  I was sitting at my computer and started feeling dizzy and hot all of sudden.  As soon as I started puking, I couldnt stop.  I puked for a good hour and half before I decided to go to hospital.  
The car ride there was unbearable.  If felt like I was spinning one way and the world was spinning another.  The faster he drove the worse it was.  Needless to say he drove about 20 mph most the way.  The worst was deceleration and acceleration.  I remember not being able to stand up because of over-compensation for the spinning.  The crazy part is 2 bags of IV is what brought me out of it and also what lead doctors to believe dehydration brought on the vertigo.
I have been experiencing motion sickness since a young child.  I was always getting car sick.  I will not go anywhere if I cant drive simply because all I have to do is focus on something inside the car ie. map, cellphone, and I instantly get a headache and feel nauseous.  Riding as passenger also puts me to sleep or in a state that is hard to pull out of once the ride is over.
Driving thru town is a piece of cake for me, its the long straight stretches of highway or interstate that are my worst enemy.  This just started happening however.  I bought a new car recently thinking there was something wrong with the steering in my old car but I still feel the same steering issue with the new car.  Its not a steering issue obviously its a perception issue.
I notice it more when I turn my head.  It feels like my eyes are bouncing up n down.  I would close my eyes to refocus and stop the bounce and as soon as they are closed I feel the falling sensation.  Just the other day I was driving on the freeway and going thru this and a semi truck went around me, there was a barrier on my right and as soon as the semi was on my left I felt so strange I cant even describe.  Was like walls closing in on my spinning eyes.  I panicked and freaked my son and another passenger out.  Needless to say, I got off the freeway at the next exit.

I also have many days where my head feels full and eyes feel heavy like my brain clouds over from pressure within.  Does anyone else experience this?  My sinuses always feel full of something, my ears pop a lot, I hear my heartbeat in my left ear and can see my pulse in my vision.  Its likes it darkens with every pulse.  I have floating black dots, and times when focusing seems difficult.  Sometimes it just takes longer, sometimes I have to look at something totally different to restore it.  If it happens while Im at my computer, it feels like I'm "spacing out" and cant bring myself back to reality like I should be able to do.  My face also will turn bright red and it feels like its because some "flow" is being cut off.  If I lay on my belly up on my elbows with my chin in my hands this seems to help "the flow" ( I first started doing this with my migraines which I havent had in years THANK GOD)  I have been getting frequent headaches lately, like a blood pressure headache or something but they are dull and easily tolerable.  I also "see stars" a lot for no apparent reason.  I have gotten them from standing up or bending over or sitting up to fast. I also cant seem to concentrate or recover thoughts that are important for me to remember.  You know when you cant remember a name or a word your looking for?  Its similar to that only its retrieving the thought I was thinking about.
I was diagnosed in 2003 for major depressive disorder and panic disorder but after trying effexor, zoloft, lexapro and two others (cant think of name) but one came with vistaril I gave up.  I am convinced doctors are merely drug pushers and the FDA was just a way the govt could get a piece of the profits.
Does anyone else have similar symptoms.  
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Avatar_f_tn
OMG!!!  I think you are so right!!!  I have shallow breathing ever since my pneumonia!!!  I think Im afraid to take deep breaths because when i had the pneumonia thats when I felt stabbing pain!!!! However, I just took a few big deep breaths and now I especially feel dizzy.  Like I am hyperventilating lol.
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Avatar_m_tn
evening guys, I started getting anxiety when i was 19! Sounds fun, i know! I wanted to join the army so I did not tell tell the doctor of my symptoms as i was scared that they might not let me in the army if they found out about my problems! I chose to fight this by my self, anyways I am going to stop going on about my story and tell you something, breathe honestly, It doesn't stop your anxiety but it helps so much! put a hand on your chest and one on your belly. They should be level right, breathe so that the hand your chest doesn't move but the hand on your stomach moves out. I.e. you are breathing through your diagram. This should be practiced at least 3 times a day for 5 mins. And after a while it will make a difference.

Regards

Jit-UK
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Avatar_m_tn
OMG  I can only hope you see this message as I have never posted in a forum and have no idea this will be read...but your earlier entry was so insightful  you clearly get it!  I have been trying to explain my new onset of driving panic attacks to others and they all think I'm mental.  (which is not my typical m.o.)when on a freeway it is like i feel drugged and dizzy then panic comes!!!  it also could be described as the feeling of falling sensation very similiar to when drifting off to sleep and you do the jerk, but longer and much more severe. When this happens I cannot express the overwhelming fear beating in by body. i have had to completely stop driving on the freeway.  I do not feel anxiety until this happens.  as a passenger it does not happen and it also occurs when I am in big warehouse type stores with high high ceilings.  I have to hold a cart  I need to know what type of dr to go to, my primary has not helped at all.  any help appreciated a TON!
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Avatar_m_tn
I am going through the same problem I've been driving since I was 15 years old now I am 30 years old and for some reason I cant drive on the hwy I feel like my heart is pounding so fast my hands sweat and my feet do also and I feel like I have to break immediately and I  just cant continue driving and now just the other day I had a anxiety attack out of know where will driving in the city { it felt like the street was to big for me}  can someone relate to this and is there any advice
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Avatar_m_tn
I am experiencing the same symtoms (symptoms)!  Everyone else, I believe, thinks I'm crazy but everyone knows when their body is out of order!  I've always had a problem with flying, which in the past has not hindered me.  However, it's been three years since I've been on a plane due to my fear of an uncontrolled environment and a severe attack.  I have also been prescribed Meclizine by my PCP, but I'm not so eager to take meds due to the side effects.  I prefer to take the wholistic approach, if it will work.  Anyway, I have a dr.'s appt. soon.  Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this, because I refuse to be a prisoner of fear!  And you're absolutely correct, my faith in Jesus has surely carried me thus far.  My prayer is that He will remove this condition and heal yourself and I so that we can live our lives to the max!
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks to Guitarguy, lukeh, and others for sharing their stories. I too am a driving anxiety sufferer from Canada, and my condition has been with me the past 6 years. I truly believe it all started after a scuba diving incident where I almost lost my life due to not receiving enough oxygen (or at least feeling that way). I was rushed to the surface (from 30 feet below) and was so happy to be alive. But ever since, whenever I would get on the highway, BAM, the symptoms would come on. Early on, I clearly remember the first symptoms were only related to swallowing and breathing. I felt as if I couldn't get enough oxygen and could not swallow which caused me to panic. I was even woken up from my sleep a few times by not being able to swallow properly.

A few years went by and my life changed dramatically. I had moved back home (after being in the US for two years alone) and I during this time I was able to cope a lot better with my anxiety. I was able to drive on the highway just fine, as long as I had COLD air blowing on my face, or the window open. Can anyone relate to that?? I took roadtrips with my friends where I drove, and everything was just dandy as long as I had my conforts -- cold air on the face and a bottle of water nearby.

In early 2012, things changed once again. Life became more stressful, and the driving anxiety became a real problem that prevented me from doing the things I needed to do. It got to the point where I was pulling over on the highway because I was so disoriented and scared that I would kill myself and others. My symptoms were (and still are) identical to what you guys describe - face going numb, heart racing, narrow/blurry vision, lightheadedness, pressure around head.

In the past year, I was determined to get to the bottom of this nonsense. In my teens, I was completely fine on the highway. I could speed, pass trucks, have the music blasting, etc...and it didn't phase me, so I knew that my fear was not a fear of driving...it is a fear of the symptoms of panic disorder and panic attacks.

SO WHAT DID I DO, you may ask? I went for Cognitive behavioral therapy which attempted to change the way I think. Unfortunately during my 7 sessions I did not experience any relief, but I did learn some important things. (1) breathing is important, but you HAVE to practice. I was encouraged to breathe through my diaphragm and do it slowly. People with panic disorder tend to hyperventilate and take short, shallow breaths - which others have described here as a big contributer to the symptoms we all experience. I was also told to expose myself to the symptoms in a different environment so that I can learn that they are NOT harmful.  (2) I contemplated taking medication like Xanax, but I decided not to as I had a bad experience with celexa (citalopram). I want to conquor this naturally. (3) I bought a couple books: "Hope and Help for your Nerves" which I recommend, and "Rising Above Fear: Healing Phobias, Panic and Extreme Anxiety" which I have just started. The first book is good because it has taught me to realize that we are being bluffed by our bodies and we are creating something called a "second fear" which is created when we tell ourselves that we are going to die, or the next time will be worse, or WHAT IF, and other negative thoughts. The book encourages us to accept our fears (not control them) and let them float past us. It is only with acceptance that we can overcome this problem. It is about realizing that no matter how sensitized our body's have become, these fight and flight symptoms cannot get any worse than they already are and they will not hurt us. Accept (don't control) the symptoms, and let them FLOAT past you. At the very moment when your feelings seem to engulf you, surrender and accept it.

WHERE AM I TODAY? Well, after trying all these things, I still face the symptoms of anxiety on the highway. I am not discounting the ability of these strategies to help me, but I think it will take more time. Learning to face things, accept what they bring, and let them float past you will take time. I am very optimistic of a recovery though. And I think everybody on this forum should also be optimistic. Do not let your fears take over.

I welcome all comments and suggestions.
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Avatar_f_tn
I feel our ears might be clogged with ear wax. And when driving on the fwy the pressure from being that high in the mountains makes your head stuffy. Which makes it hard to concentrate
You might even forget to breathe because your so unfocused from all the pressure in your head. And when you don't get enough oxygen to the head you're gonna yawn and feel sleepy. Maybe this can be fixed with an ear wax removal solution. Also I know I'm not the only oe who skips a healthy breakfast and then come lunch time I'm to busy to eat so I convience myself I'm not hungry. I hardly get any sleep and I know that non of this helps when I'm on that freeway and my head feels stuffy. MAYBE
All we need is...
MORE SLEEP
TO CLEAN EARS OF WAX BUILD UP.
TO EAT BETTER/HEALTHIER

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Avatar_m_tn
Hello,
Wow I got my first panic attack as well after a night of drinking and I too was a smoker at the time. Yes it is a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. I have tried the 7 - 11 method but isn't this more of a reactive solution? It doesn't seem to help me to prevent them. Did the medication actually succeed in helping you prevent them?

Any help or advice would be much appreciated.  
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Avatar_m_tn
A good reply which has put my mind at rest a little.  I have recently started to suffer from that very thing.  It is most similar to a severe panic attack on motorways or busy roads, usually in traffic jams where I do not feel in control and must pull over or get myself out of harms way.  I am not a nervous person and have been driving buses and coaches for a living for twenty years before I got a job in the office.  I am having problems with my ears, my left one in particular, I have hissing in it all the time and I am booked in for syringing with the doctor in a week or so.  I hope this is what is causing my sudden problem, which is very similar to what tam31 describes. I'll keep you informed!
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks Luke, I'll try that!
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Avatar_m_tn
i know this is an old post but this is a New Issue to me.I have all of these symptoms and I drive for a living. What ever became of this please?
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Avatar_m_tn
I want to say a huge thank you to all of you that have posted on here.  Like many of you, I too thought I was the only one who suffers from dizzy spells whilst driving.  I am a 40 year old woman from the UK who has always been very independent, being able to drive myself and/ or my family from one end of the country to the other.  But for the past 5 years I have had dizzy spells that have meant that I no longer drive on any road where speed is involved.  My husband is very understanding and drives long distances for us, but I feel very frustrated.  It is interesting that many of you mention ear related problems, as I have suffered extremely dry, itchy ears for a number of years but the Drs have always said I have no problems.  Breathing slowly through the diaphragm does help the symptoms but I am yet to find a cure.  It's good to know I am not going crazy, and that there are other people in a similar situation.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I had these symptoms years ago, dizziness driving above 35-40 mph, not being able to look away and back.  No problem as a passenger.
I had been taking Allegra tabs for years for hayfever.  I discontinued the med and switched to Flonase spray.  The problem went away.  
It seemed I had built up an intolerance over the years.
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Avatar_m_tn
Joe,

Sorry for the late reply my man. I was under the impression that by default MedHelp E-mails me when users message me here. Note: They do not! :(

Yes, the 7-11 method is indeed reactive and not preventative. However, it's still helpful to have a quick little cure than nothing at all right? :)

As for the medications --- yes and no. The Klonopin (1 Mg) did kill the anxiety about 15-20 minutes after I took it. Mind you, I was prescribed as-needed and not daily dosages, perhaps daily dosages would prevent attacks. But I just hated the way it made me feel. So zombied out --- emotionless. I remember not even being able to laugh or get excited if my life depended on it. Plus it would make me forget my entire day or night whenever I took it. Benzo's (xanax,klonopin) are infamous for their tendency to make you forgetful. But the worst part was I noticed when they wore off, the anxiety would come back 10x worse than it was before I took it. So in short, I stopped taking those unless it was a REALLY bad attack.

As for the Lexapro (an SSRI, anti-depressant), yes that did work to an extent. The anxiety was still there, but not as frequently and intense as it once was. I wasn't waking up in the middle of the night having attacks anymore, but I wasn't exactly walking around with a smile on my face either. Started out at 10 Mg daily, then got bumped up to 20 Mg after a while. Same results really. It just dulls the blade of the anxiety knife, but it's still there.

The truth is you really have to handle these naturally and without medications. Although, the lessening of anxiety from the medications does make it easier for you to gradually be able to fight it on your own.

The biggest thing that helped me (as silly as it sounds) is just being familiar with it, identifying it when its coming on, and reminding yourself it CAN'T kill you. Once I was able to recognize when an attack was coming on, I got it through my head that it can't hurt me and just kept telling myself "you can beat this, it's just stupid anxiety." My biggest trick is the 7-11 breathing that I've mentioned. Again, it's responsive and not preventative. But once you understand you can conquer it when it comes on, it makes the fear of having an attack diminish over time. And truthfully I believe that most attacks come from the fear of having an attack and how badly they suck, as I just mentioned in a PM to another user on this post.

I truly hope that 9 months later you have fully conquered your anxiety, or at least have it under control. You can do it! It's all in your head, just keep reminding yourself that :)

Good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks Guitarguy89 for your post. I suffer everyday with all of the same symptoms and problems. I am 26 years old. It is so debilitating and exhausting. I have spent the last 10 years of my life trying to fight this disorder...it is a comfort, although I wouldn't wish this on anyone, to know there is other people out there that suffer with the same anxiety and have gotten through it. I work full time and trying to get through every day at work is really hard. I could relate to your post 100% so thank you.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I started to have these attacks recently and got panicked. Somehow, your post has relieved me a bit.
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Avatar_m_tn
Without going into all the details I have also experienced many of the symptoms referred to on this forum, most notably the dizziness while driving. I have been getting acupuncture targeting my parasympathetic nervous system and it has been working wonders. I have had no attacks or symptoms since.

Good luck to all in finding what works for you.
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