Fears, anxieties, and phobias are not uncommon. Sometimes I visit a phobia list and marvel at the thousands & thousands of codified human fears out there. I can relate to some of them, but for many, I can’t because I just don’t have enough of a frame of reference. But I can usually imagine what it’s like to have a specific phobia, even if I myself don’t suffer from that exact one. One that I have suffered from is vertigo while driving over bridges.
Fear of Driving Over Bridges
People fear driving over bridges for the same reasons they fear driving on the highway: they’re afraid of being trapped and out of control. They’re afraid of needing help and not being able to get it. They fear passing out, losing control of themselves, or even driving off the bridge.
If you’ve ever stood at the edge of a cliff and had a perverse fear you might jump, bridge phobia is similar. It overlaps with the fear of heights and claustrophobia.
If you’re afraid of driving over bridges, maybe you avoid them at all costs, going miles out of your way so as to not have to drive on one. You probably have irrational fantasies about all the terrible things that might happen on a bridge, including:
Fear of driving off the bridge
Fear the bridge will collapse
Afraid of wind blowing you off
Fear of heights
You probably know your fears are irrational, but you have them anyway. Driving on high bridges — especially those over water — likely makes your fear even more intense. Bridge phobia is common in people who suffer from other driving anxiety symptoms.
What is Vertigo?
Vertigo is the sensation that either you or your environment is spinning. It’s sudden dizziness that comes on quickly. It can last seconds, or days. It varies from barely noticeable to extremely intense. You may feel nauseous or sick from it.
Vertigo is different from mere dizziness. Vertigo is a medical condition that’s usually caused by problems in your inner ear. The inner ear is the body’s main system for maintaining balance and the spatial relationship with the outside world. Inflammation of the ear can throw this delicate mechanism out of whack, resulting in vertigo. Vertigo may also be due to brain injury, stroke, and the side effects of certain medications. If you have persistent vertigo, on or off of bridges, please seek medical treatment to make sure the cause isn’t the result of a medical issue.
Treating Height Vertigo
Assuming there’s no medical problem, your “vertigo” while driving over bridges is not actually vertigo. The term is often used incorrectly to describe acrophobia, the fear of heights. This “height vertigo” is psychological in nature, not medical. Effective treatment for fear of heights includes:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT has proven very effective at overcoming various phobias, including the fear of heights. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that’s generally short-term. It uses behavior-based techniques to retrain the way the mind thinks about high places. Learn how to choose a good anxiety therapist.
- Exposure Therapy – Exposure therapy operates on the idea that the best way to get over a fear is to confront it. Exposure therapy is the basis for the Panic Away Program, which cures panic attacks. Cognitive therapy sometimes also includes gradual, increasing levels of exposure to heights in order to decrease your sensitivity to them.
- Medication – Anxiety medication like sedatives or beta-blockers are sometimes appropriate for short-term relief of intense fears. You should only use medication under the care of a medical professional.
- Relaxation – Yoga, deep breathing, and mindfulness techniques are things you can do on your own to cope with stress and anxiety. Hypnosis is also a very effective type of treatment for phobias like fear of heights. It’s also something you can do on your own with the help of hypnosis downloads.
Move past that limiting phobia with this relaxing hypnosis session.
Hypnosis can show you the way to get over that bridge comfortably.
Vertigo while driving over bridges is the last thing anyone wants to experience. The dizziness and confusion from medical or height vertigo is not tolerable while driving. Luckily, you now have a few tips on how to deal with the problem and maximize your comfort levels when you have to drive over a bridge.