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"highway anxiety attacks"

I’ve got this condition that just started about a week ago when I was driving home from work.  I’ll try and do the best I can to explain what I was feeling/symptoms… While driving on the highway, I seemed to have lost focus on the road, almost as if I was in a trance/hypnotized… I felt as though I was off balanced at times…yet I was still conscious of the cars around me.  I was unable to switch lanes for fear of something, don’t know what.  For this reason I started to become very nervous and I felt as if I was having an anxiety attack…. My heart started beating fast and I felt pressure or tension going up the back of my neck.  My arms and legs were shaking so bad it was hard to keep control or even brake.  I wasn’t able to calm down until I got off of the highway.  I’ve notice that the only time this happens is when I’m on the highway/freeway.  When I’m on residential roadways I am fine, when I’m walking I’m fine, standing from a sit position I’m fine, bending over I’m fine.   My doctor can't seem to find anything wrong, they did a physical, took some blood and did an EKG, my heart was beating a little fast and that was chalked up to me being nervous.  I’ve been told that my ears are fine, equilibrium, and vertical have been ruled out.  

I don’t have clue what it can be.  I even start to get nervous thinking about having to get back on the highway.

5 Responses
Avatar universal
Are you in your mid to late twntys? I out of the blue started not being able to drive on the higways get on elevatots be in crowed places this could be the start of a anxiety disorder ,hopefully its not some times a break up can bring them on  and or any thing trumatic,but itsstill a disorder they do get better with age, I stillcant shop in crowed stores but driven on the highway fine if Im not upset or worried Im 46 my name is sheila I wish you the best
1348686 tn?1310657843
It sounds like you had a panic attack.  You have to try not to avoid the highways in fear of having another one because eventually they will get worse.  I am not a doctor and I am currently struggling with my own anxiety/panic issues but one thing I have learned is that the more you avoid things in fear of panic the worse they become.  You have to keep reminding yourself that you are safe.  I know that this is easier said than done.  If things continue you may want to talk with a therapist.  I wish you the best of luck and I really hope that you can overcome this.
134578 tn?1546634665
I get this and have in the past taken Zoloft to make it go away.  It has to do with the "shoulds" and "musts" and "have tos" of life getting to be so oppressive that one develops a phobia about the highway (where there are a lot of shoulds and musts and have tos).  Both talk therapy and anti-anxiety meds are helpful.  Address it quickly, because if you start avoiding highway driving you will have trouble ever getting it back, and you need to be able to drive comfortably on a highway in our society!  Good luck!
Avatar universal
My own sister developed a fear of driving on highways when she was much younger.    Just as you said,  she too can drive perfectly fine on other roads but not the main highways.     I myself have never had a problem driving on any road or highway yet I cannot get on an airplane.   My sister has no problem going on an airplane.    Thats how are minds are,  we develop fears that will be hard to break unless we face them head-on.    So yours is more common than you might think.    
Avatar universal
I had that happened to me too on the hwy going to work. I am in heavy traffic to work daily. I was cruising along and all of a sudden my speed started dropping. I felt a weird feeling in my legs, I was a nervous wreck. I stayed in the first lane and got off the next exit. I was clenching the wheel. It lasted like maybe 15 minutes but it felt like forever. I got to work and my legs felt like I couldnt stand on them. I didnt think I was going to make it to the door. I started sweating. I forced myself out of the car and made it worrying I was going to be late. For 6 months I never got on the hwy. One day it snowed and I got myself back up there. It was only on the hwy. Now I am getting sweaty palms and pins and needles under my feet, very nervous feeling in church of all places. Now my doctor gave me lexapro. I hate taking meds. I am scared with reading all the side effects. I was doing the hwy 6 months on 6 months off for 2 yrs. I never had a problem before that. It comes out of nowhere. I have a friend who has let it cripple her. Dont let it cripple you. Just get on and stay in the first lane. Pray too that helps and breathing deep breaths.      
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