Driving Anxiety – A Specific Anxiety Disorder

Many people who suffer from panic disorder and general anxiety may also suffer from driving anxiety. Driving anxiety is an example of a specific anxiety disorder. A specific anxiety disorder is one in which an individual may not feel anxious in general, such as generalized anxiety disorder, but will become anxious and panic in specific situations. Many times, people with a specific anxiety disorder will feel anxious effects when socializing with others, but this does not hold true for all cases. In other situations, such as driving your car, people are still able to experience severe anxiety based on their surroundings.

For someone who suffers from driving anxiety, driving their automobile can be one of the worst regular occurring experiences in their lives. Traffic can be too congested, others may be driving too erratic, or it could be too dark out; whatever the reason is for your driving anxiety, it is nothing to take lightly.

Driving anxiety should be addressed the moment it is discovered. People who become anxious while driving will often experience an increased heart beat, sweaty palms, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms will force your mind to think even more irrationally than it was before, forcing you into a state of panic, and possibly, a state of unconsciousness. What will happen to someone who loses unconsciousness behind the wheel on an expressway? This is why driving anxiety tends to be one of the most feared forms of panic and anxiety people can experience.

People who have experienced the symptoms of driving anxiety, and who possibly could have been severely injured due to an accident caused by anxiety, are capable of developing a driving phobia. When one possesses a driving phobia, they may begin to avoid certain highways, streets, intersections, or they may begin to avoid driving altogether. Taking these actions will only further associate driving with the fear and panic in your mind.

As with any anxiety, it is possible to treat driving anxiety. Just because you have experienced a bad episode of driving in the past does not mean you are doomed forever in the future.

A very effective way of approaching driving anxiety is to examine your mindset going into your “trigger” situations. A trigger situation may be a certain street, bridge, highway, etc. where you tend to feel most anxious. Going into these trigger situations, anxious and panicked drivers often convince themselves they will have a panic attack.

These types of thoughts tend to defeat any attempted efforts being made to help yourself with driving anxiety. Someone who has a strong desire to be able to drive comfortably will never achieve that state of mind when they are preparing to panic in certain situations.

Instead of flooding your mind with irrational, negative thinking, focus on thoughts that will calm you in a state of possible anxiety. Instead of panicking because there is not enough room for you to merge lanes, turn on your signal and be patient for other drivers to move. If before you “freaked out” whenever a police officer began to follow your car, know that if you follow traffic laws you cannot be at fault for anything.

Do not become engulfed in your situation. So what if you get nervous when merging onto highway #1 or when you pass through intersection ABC, the key is not to focus on what makes you nervous. You most focus on what calms you in order to reach your goal.