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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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I have been having anxiety/panic attacks since I was 15.  At 16 I started driving...passed my test...got my license.  I have found ways to cope with this anxiety while driving for many years (I am now 51 years old).  About 2 years ago I had a real bad episode and could not drive for over 6 months.  Finally I forced myself to drive so that I could go back to work.  The strangest thing is, I used to have anxiety all the time...couldn't go to the mall, or restaurants, etc.  But now all of my anxiety and panic attacks happen while driving. Bad weather like rain or snow increase the attacks.  Just knowing there's a slight chance of snow will throw off my whole day and cause me to panic even before I get in my car!  I cry at night over the frustration and the control this has over me.  Why is it I won't let a REAL thing like a person control me, but my imagination and a stupid phobia can control my life?  My biggest fear is having a panic attack and passing out...and worrying about that is what usually brings on the attack.  Yes, worrying that I might have a panic attack actually brings on a panic attack!  Maybe I will try to worry about NOT having a panic attack so that I WON'T have one!
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I have the same issue I get very nervous when i'm driving somewhere new and or at night. When driving to work or places i go on a regular basis my anxiety is about a 1 or 2 depending on excess traffic. It's hard to deal with and I hate that a lot of people don't understand. I live in NJ and always seem to meet new people in the places I don't want to drive like philadelphia which is only a half hour away but it's the city and more hectic confusing or a certain town in nj that i hate. It's mostly major highways, towns with a million 4 ways stops with weird angles where i can't really see. Plus every town is different so all the stuff you learn when taking your drivers test you forget until that one day you drive in the new town and you have to go around a circle or parallel park and have no time to figure out how to do it because it always seems like everyone wants to be behind you and on your tail. It really got in the way of my dating life if they lived in a weird area luckily now the guy i'm seeing is very comforting about it and helps me relax until each trip gets easier and easier. Another issue I have is i always drive alone so when someone else is in the car i dont really know that well i tense up because i'm thinking of what they are thinking about my driving so i'm over concentrating and trying to listen to them talk at the same time so it seems like i'm completely ignoring them but i'm just in a weird zone of panic. What helps me is i do the following 3 things if I am able to.

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

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

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

Yoga helped me relax and meditating the phrase I am safe also my favorite songs help me relax as well
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1438750 tn?1302823043
I am this same way :( Have you found an answer to your problem yet? I get like hypnotized. Sometime I feel like I am driving at an angle... or straight up or down and then I think.... what if there was no gravity, yada yada.... It's awful because I have to work 2 jobs and drive my son to day care like this.
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1438750 tn?1302823043
Please let me know how the B12 shots are working for you. I am so desperate at finding an answer. My brain and eyes do not work together for some reason and the dr's can not give me an answer. My email is ***@****
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I have suffered 3 panic attacks while driving. Each time I've experienced numbness on the left side of my body, shortness of breath,  and feeling as though my throat was closing in. The first time was the worst. I grew stiff to the point where my mouth and lips were clenched tight and I could not relax them. I think these attacks were my body's reaction to built up stresses over a long period of time. Ever since, I have not been myslef.  I suffer from constant facial tension and have tried every relaxation technique to lessen it.  None have worked.  I feel like I will never be the same again.

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

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

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

just thought, i would throw in my 2bits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other helpers:

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

2. Chamomille Tea (very calming)

3. LAVENDER TEA!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just came across this - i know it has been a number of years. Are you still suffering from this or have you found something to help you??

I am currently going through this and it's very upsetting as I have never had this happen before and now it's happening every day.
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I have had this problem for a number of years now. Once my baby was born I completely stopped driving because of the fear of having a panic attack while they were with me in the car. I started to drive short distances, to the local shops etc. But haven't yet gone further. Ive left it for a few years now and just seems so much harder to get back out there. I took the easy option of never driving and relying on other people but now it is really getting me down because I cant just get up and go where ever I like. I want to avoid medications if I can but this plays on my mind all the time from the time I WAKe up until I sleep at night. Any recommendations. Have tried to go further distances over bridges and lights but get to a point where I start to freak out and say I cant do this, then pull over and my husband then takes over. Its so frustrating and just want to be able to drive normally again. Any suggestions or advice to overcome this!
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I am going to take my driving test tomorrow for the forth time....and my parents are pressuring me since I go to college and they do not want to drive me there anymore.....the thing is, I really want to pass and I know how to drive but i start to get very nervous and hyperventilate when i drive....I cried after my third test fail and now my dad keeps telling me not to cry, such as in a mocking manner. They think I am crazy and that i do not want to pass but they do not want to see that i have a driving phobia.....and maybe perhaps just anxiety problems..i read these stories and i am glad that i am not alone.....wish me luck tomorrow!
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I just recently developed this problem.  What triggered it was that I have high blood pressure, and finally was hospitalized for it.  I have meds for it now, but I worry I will have something happen to me while driving, that I will hurt someone else, etc.  I had no idea other people suffered from this same problem until now.  And here's the really bad part of my particular situation: my job is a medical van driver.  Basically all I do all day is drive all over southern ca area picking up sick people to take to doctors, etc.  Not EMT, thank God, but still stressful.  Even if I'm feeling okay, all it takes is a client to flip on me about going a different route than what they want, or just talking too much to me and being overexcited, and that can send me into a panic attack.  The attack will spin worse and worse because I start to dwell on it and how I know I can't just pull over with these people on board, etc.  It's gotten to the point I might have to find a different job, it's that bad.  I will probably have to get on some real meds for the anxiety, or hopefully find a job that only entails driving to and from work.  I can definitely sympathize with anyone else going through this.  
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Wow this sounds a lot like my situation. I feel like my eyes want to pop out and my head wants to roll off my shoulders. I like to go so I forc e myself I think my blood pressure is thru the roof when I'm on the highway. I drove 3hrs today and I'm physically exhausted. And I always liked driving
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Don't stop driving. It will only get worse. Mine is better but not before some low times. One day I got in my care and said "dammit there are places I want to go and I'm not going to let this control me"  the more u get out and do it the better it gets..my Dr told me my fears were all imagined, that helped me as well. I really hope this helps :)
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While I realize this is an old thread, it's also one of the top Google hits for driving anxiety, so I wanted to share my story because it's so similar to others' here. I've gone back and forth with driving anxiety for a while now. I have panic disorder in general, agoraphobia that is somewhat controlled, situational panic attacks, an inner ear condition, and PTSD. I used to take xanax but now take klonopin, not for driving, but in general, for life. So when I got my driver's license twenty-five years ago, I was anxious from the get-go in traffic and on bridges and avoided both. I live in a suburban area of California, and the freeways are pretty large here -- six lanes wide. Some of our bridges don't have shoulders.

My condition comes and goes, plain and simple. I will be fine for a year or two, and I will drive hundreds of miles on freeways and take road trips and everything, although I always have extreme difficulty being a passenger in a car, and I cannot take public transportation except busses or trains (I think because they're larger, but then I can't take subways, so I don't know). Then I will invariably have a panic attack of massive proportions while driving, and recently, this has nearly caused me to crash and has been also severe enough as a passenger to jump out of a not-yet stopped vehicle (no injuries). I'm scared of how intensely these things hit. I'm also horrible in the left turn lane or at a stop light. I almost always stay in the right lane.

I'll be fine, driving, but then I feel a rapid tingling up the back of my scalp accompanied by an urgent feeling of "get away." If I can pull over or off the freeway, I do, but on many of our freeways, there are no pull-offs or stops are miles apart. So if I cannot pull off, that's when things are bad, and the attacks come so darned quickly it's unbelievable. The next feeling that I have is complete confusion and faintness, and I am 90% sure my blood pressure drops. I'm not actually scared of anything though. I basically just feel trapped and overwhelmed. I have dim vision. If this continues, then I will get rapid heart rate and breath fast. It's all worse at night, on hills, and ascending or descending, as well as on wide freeways where there is a lot of motion from other cars. If there are no other cars on the freeway, I'm 100% fine driving by myself (but the traffic is heavy here, so that's really rare).

The thing is, that I'm worse as a passenger because I feel even more trapped. In that case, I often just feel kind of motion sick but not nauseous. This could have to do with my inner ear plus the anxiety. I often just feel like jumping out of the car and running away, but I have to soldier through it, and my heart starts racing, I sweat, I shake from head to toe, and I either shout out in fear or cry in terror. I have been very embarrassed to have this happen many times now, so I avoid driving with others.

Then the whole thing will go away again since I have no choice but to drive. We don't have good public transportation here, and a bicycle isn't an option since things are too spread out.  Besides, I am a big fan of going places, so I always suck it up again, but I can have back-to-back attacks or pull over again and again which is rough. It's usually hard on my passengers too.

I've never been in a car accident, ever, and have driven across country as well as in other countries. No idea why this crops up sometimes. It does go away. It can also come back. I find it depressing and strange. It's good to read accounts from people with such a similar issue because driving panic is NOT LIKE other panic attacks (I've had them all, I think!) -- it's more faint-y and also, you do feel kind of paralyzed during the episode, I think because you can't always fight, or flight, so you freeze. It's also a situation where you are not totally in control, so it's not just in your head. I think if you are better driving back roads, that's fine. It definitely responds to exposure though, and it can recur, but will go away again with exposure too. I feel crazy sometimes though.
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I am also having this problem exactly how you described it and have stopped driving. It's been two years since I have really driven around town. I have been in my car since then but I only will go to the end of the street. I also have panic attacks when I'm standing in open spaces. I had this problem as a kid and now it affects my driving. I don't know what to do to cure this. I feel crippled and I want to get free from this!
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I am grateful for not being alone with this predicament. I just got my license in October (I am 34) and have recently found temporary work (lasting up to 2 months) my husband and I have one car currently and he must travel next week. (My first start) and it's 30 minutes away, we're  finally purchasing a 2nd car so I'm able to go back and forth. I now however have found myself terrified, I have never driven longer than a few miles away by myself. The thought of highway driving even this short distance worries me so much (my anxiety is about being in an accident) so much so that I am so anxious I am trying to find ANY reason to not take this job. I don't know what else to do. It's not that I don't want to work. I am scared of possible outcomes. Hoping someone out there can help.
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The last post is 12 months old so they likely won't see your question. You can start a new thread if you want.
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I had this problem almost 30 years ago. My first panic attack was in the car.  Back then there wasn't much information so I bought every book I could find on the subject.
I learned that for what ever reason we begin to slowly breathe just a little more than normal, then we are hyperventilating and our lips and hands can go numb. I kept saying, I am not hyperventilating, but realized I was.  I learned that if you drink cold water you can't breath faster. For a year I kept a bottle of water in the car with me until the memory of the panic was gone.
I suffered with this every day on the way to work. If it gets really bad, you can breathe in to a paper bag.
While I understand this is an old thread, someone above said it comes up first during a search of panic while driving.
I hope this helps someone. Dee
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I recently began having this same issue. I feel helpless because I&#39;ve always been a driver. Always the one who offered to drive, never shied away from driving around the state.  Then one day had a panic attack while driving and have not been able to since. Not even around my neighborhood. I have no problem being the passenger but driving myself seems like the worst thing I could do. I&#39;m glad I&#39;m not alone. I know it is my own mental block and that I can overcome and understand that driving is not what caused my panic attack. I will continue to try and drive around my neighborhood to reaffirm that I am a good and safe driver and that I am capable. I know this thread is 10 years old but it has helped me tremendously.
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370181 tn?1428180348
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Arlington, WA
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973741 tn?1342346373
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675718 tn?1449992146
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El Paso, TX