Driving Anxiety

by Pat/Detroit

I was somewhat surprised to see so many people responded to the post on driving anxiety.

I have suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life even when I didn't have the official diagnosis.

I never have really enjoyed driving. I am originally from West Virginia but moved to Michigan when I married. I always hated to drive around all the curves when we would travel to WV to visit. It got to the point that I would drive until we got to the WV state line and then my husband would take over.

My driving anxiety began one morning of a trip down south where I took the first "leg" of the trip and the plan was for me to drive until we stopped for breakfast. My husband and kids were sleep in the car and I was fine until I came to a bend of the road where there were no longer lights on the highway. It was pitch black and I became disoriented and had a major panic attack.

Since it was so early in the morning there were not many cars on the road and I basically stopped the car in the middle of the highway. I had to wake up my husband to help me get the car over to the side of the road. I was unable to help drive for the remainder of this trip (to Atlanta then Orlando). So it was a very long trip with only my husband to drive there and all the way home.

Every time I tried to help drive on a long family trip I would experience a panic attack. This initial episode was in 2000 and I still suffer from this today. While I am able to drive locally, in my established routes, I am unable to drive when we are out of town on vacation.

In other ways I am a very independent person, but I am dependent upon my husband for driving. I have tried various treatments (behavioral and medical) which has resulted in little improvement.

My basic reason for writing was to let readers know are many reasons that seniors do not drive and a safety course will not always help.

Comments for Driving Anxiety

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Be like a matador.
by: Brent/Oregon

Hi Pat,

I feel for you. I started having panic attacks in my mid 30's. When I drove to work, I always used side streets and carried an aspirin tin with Xanax in it just in case.

The best advice I got from a professional was to just let the panic come, knowing that it will pass through me and not harm me physically. After that, the panic will be diminished or disarmed. (The more you don't give it any energy).

I know; easy to say. I still have problems sometimes when diving on a freeway encountering a curve, but not always anymore.

My best thoughts and prayers to you for to slay this dragon.

Other drivers
by: Wee-zer

My anxiety exists mostly due to the other drivers who do stupid things. Weaving in and out of every space on the highway, tailgating, speeding in any lane they can get in.

When not on the highways, people run red lights like there are no rules of the road.

People don't use their heads at all when driving. Talking on cells, eating, reading newspapers, not using headlights when it rains and snows, booze, drugs. People can't seem to go fast enough. If the speed limit is 45 mph and you are going 50 mph they tailgate you. WHY?

by: Amma/east coast megalopolis

That's a bummer to say the least! I share a different, less virulent form of the problem and I understand when the stuff of nightmares seems to come to life.

I wish I had the magic formula to help You!

I would urge you not to give up. You have some freedom at last, it's too bad to have to surrender it, for your own sake.

I just wanted you to know that at least 1 person out here totally "gets it" and I wish you the best in the future.

Magnesium levels
by: Michael Hertel

HI; check with a doctor many times the levels of some chemicals determines how we feel and how well we are able to function. Do not just give in and say it is because I am older. I knew a person over 90 who still sometimes drove during the day.

Highway panic attacks
by: Sue

I've suffered with panic attacks while on the highway for decades. There have been short periods of time when I could manage to do it, but it is always a white-knuckle experience and I am counting the miles and minutes until I can get off the highway.

When I get a panic attack on the highway, I truly feel like I am going to pass out and kill someone (or myself). I freeze up, can't see properly, can't breathe, and end up getting off the nearest exit or pulling onto the shoulder.

Then, of course, when I try again in the future to drive on a highway, the anticipatory anxiety causes me to freeze up while I'm still on the on ramp. I'm fine on city streets but have to have my husband take me anywhere that requires a highway drive.

I got very fed up with being so dependent on others so I went to see a hypnotherapist a few months ago. He guaranteed me that I would have no more panic attacks on the highway, and he was right!

I now look forward to highways and am singing and relaxed the entire time I'm driving on them. It might not work for everyone, but it might be something you want to consider trying?


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