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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 universal
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, 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.  
Do you still have the issue?
Avatar universal
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
Avatar universal
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
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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 !!
Did you ever find out the cause??
Avatar universal
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
Did you ever find out the cause??
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