I talked the other day on Facebook about how cruel people without driving anxiety symptoms can be. They’re often cruel towards people who live with these symptoms every single day! It makes me ANGRY. Watching them stigmatized makes me angry. I also get angry when sufferers aren’t taken seriously. However, I get especially angry when they’re made fun of.
You’re part of the problem if you think driving anxiety is stupid or funny. You’re also not wanted here. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
But if you live with driving anxiety, read on. I have a small favor to ask you.
What Are Your Worst Driving Anxiety Symptoms?
There are so many different symptoms that go with driving anxiety. It would help me better understand my readers’ worst driving anxiety symptoms if you’d fill out the short survey below. Thank you! 🙂
Daily Life is Hell with Driving Anxiety Symptoms
Driving anxiety is not officially an anxiety disorder. Most driving anxiety symptoms occur because anxious drivers suffer from other anxiety disorders. For example, anxiety about driving on highways is usually a manifestation of agoraphobia. Fear of driving over bridges is often caused by a fear of heights (acrophobia). And tunnel phobia is a form of claustrophobia.
There is no direct correlation between the above symptoms and any specific anxiety disorder. That’s because there are thousands of anxiety symptoms. And any of them can occur with any disorder. However, the most common anxiety disorders and phobias involved with driving anxiety are:
- Agoraphobia — Agoraphobia causes a person to perceive certain situations as unsafe. Because of this, they fear being trapped in a dangerous environment. Agoraphobia often causes fear of highway driving.
- Panic disorder — Panic attacks characterize panic disorder. These attacks are periods of intense fear. They tend to peak in about ten minutes, and they’re not related to substance use or any other mental illness.
- Acrophobia — Acrophobia is the fear of heights. It plays a significant role in fear of driving on bridges.
- Claustrophobia — This is the fear of enclosed spaces without a way of escaping. The fear of driving through tunnels involves claustrophobia.
- Social anxiety disorder — Social anxiety disorder causes intense anxiety in social situations. Driving is a social activity. People with social anxiety disorder can experience painful driving anxiety symptoms due to other drivers or passengers in the car.
Millions of People Have Driving Anxiety Symptoms
18.1% of the US adult population suffers from anxiety disorders. Sadly, only 36.9% ever seek treatment. I find this statistic disturbing. That’s why I believe finding a good anxiety therapist is very important.
There are millions of people battling painful driving anxiety symptoms. It’s a very common problem. Therefore, never laugh at or made fun of it. Anyone who thinks driving anxiety is a joke probably knows at least one person who has it. And I doubt the person who has it thinks it’s all that funny.
4 thoughts on “Driving Anxiety Symptoms That Make Life Hell”
I totally understand this! My husband use to love to drive. Four years ago we were traveling down the highway and a semi was in front of us in the lane beside us. It slung a rock through the open passenger window and hit him in the right forearm. About 6 months prior to that, he was driving and got t-boned. He was ok, the car was totaled. For about 4 years now he has really bad anxiety and when we are in the car he gets really bad muscle spasms in his right arm. His arm stiffens up and shakes uncontrollably. For the most part it only happens in the car in travels. Even short distances. Especially if the traffic involves semi’s. But for the past year he has had them without being in traffic.He has been on anxiety medicine for 3 years now and they don’t seem to be working as far as I’m concerned. And thank goodness for FMLA other wise neither one of us would have a job. He has been to a neurologist, had a cat scan, mri and blood work. Nobody can seem to fix him. After he has what I call “an episode “ all he wants to do is sleep. To me it acts almost as a seizure.
Has anyone else ever experienced this?
I found your blog while looking at google results for driving anxiety, and I really appreciate how you’re approaching this topic, with sensitivity and empathy. Pardon me, but this will be a bit long.
I definitely deal with driving anxiety, but I think my specific issue is fairly rare, as I have never seen it really discussed in driving anxiety articles or blogs. I know from real life situations I’ve experienced that I don’t have the best reaction time, and I often instinctively go for the wrong choice. I still can’t tell my right from my left, I will consistently press the wrong buttons when clocking into work, and when someone issues me a request, my brain often makes strange connections and I end up giving them something incorrect.
Applying that to driving: I cannot, for the life of me, press the correct pedal, especially in a stressful situation. I know that if anything unexpected comes up, I will react wrongly, and those in the car with me and around me will suffer the consequences. My driving puts people in danger.
It’s not a fear of outlandish hypotheticals like “I could run into something!” or “I’ll get hurt!”. It’s the knowledge that I will inevitably encounter something I will have to react to, or something unfamiliar, and I won’t be able to handle it because, historically, for much less significant things, my brain has not worked the way I needed it to. I am fundamentally unsuited to driving, and if the US had better public transport, the roads would be safer because I’d never be on them.
Related, but also, sitting in the car gives me a very weird perspective where I feel like my vehicle is wider than the road I’m driving on (I’m in a Sonic and it is barely bigger than a Hot Wheels car, ha). The dash so close to my vision messes me up and I feel like I’m about to crash into everything on either side.
My most obvious driving anxiety symptom happens anytime I stop to think about any of the above, or when I am forced to go over the speed I feel I still have some amount of control (30 mph). Tears start streaming down my cheeks, uncontrollably, sometimes the entire drive depending on the speed of the roads! I feel rather dehydrated afterwards and get a lot of headaches. I’m still dealing with one right now, actually.
I’ve been coping with this the only way I feel I can: saving up to move abroad to a country with a comprehensive public transportation system so I can dunk my third learner’s license in the trash and never drive again! I miss Sweden soooo much. 🙂
I have it. And although I can get to work back and forth just fine, I cannot travel large distances. It has really handicap me. I have know idea what brought it on. I live in a city and where I grew up at is about an 1 1/2 hour drive. I’ve made the trip countless times with , until last year. I don’t understand it. Bridges or overpasses can also cause me to worry, and at times I purposely avoid them, but lately I’ve been doing better when comforting those obstacles. I just want to understand this more. I’m a 40 yr old male that cannot live his life this way.
Thanks for commenting, JC. I JUST published a post about how to get rid of driving long distance anxiety. Hope it’s helpful.