Driving anxiety – generally manifested as an unfounded or unreasonable fear of driving – affects different people in different ways. It often stems from an unfounded fear of losing control on the road and can lead to some people having a strong dislike for driving and others having a full-blown phobia of driving altogether.
Because many behaviors – including a fear of driving – are learned, they can be unlearned. All it takes is a number of concerted steps and an understanding of what the causes of driving anxiety are.
A number of factors can lead to driving anxiety, including all of the following:
- Having an accident: Being involved in an accident is one of the leading causes of driving anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The individual in question essentially subconsciously programs themselves to avoid circumstances (in this case, driving) that can lead to an unpleasant experience that was suffered in the past.
- Having a close call: Similar to having an accident, developing a fear of driving as a result of having had a close call is the body’s way of protecting you from potentially dangerous situations in the future.
- Low blood sugar: Anxiety is actually a sign of low blood sugar, and some people incorrectly associate driving anxiety with a hypoglycemic reaction. Low blood sugar can occur as a result of starvation or eating a meal that is high in certain sugars. This type of hypoglycemia, however, can be remedied with changes in diet, as outlined by the National Institutes of Health.
You can identify an individual who suffers from driving anxiety if they exhibit the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate and perspiration
- Confusion and dizziness
- Suffering from a dry mouth
- Phobias may cause severe panic attacks when the prospect of driving arises
Overcoming Your Driving Anxiety
Here are a few ways you can overcome your driving anxiety.
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid excess sugars. This will help avoid the types of hypoglycemic reactions mentioned above.
- Lower your intake of caffeine, especially coffee. Caffeinated drinks can increase your anxiety levels.
- Give yourself positive affirmations that you can do this and that you will be fine. Hearing yourself say these things can help lower your heart rate and calm your nerves.
- Drive only in safe areas until you feel you are ready to take on busier roads. Taking baby steps in this way can really help you come to terms with your anxiety and handle increasingly stressful situations in a gradual manner.
- Seek help. If all else fails, you can always speak to a counselor to better understand the specific causes of your anxiety and for help with developing a rehab regimen to help you drive as needed and live independently.
Looking For Help?
Getting back behind the wheel after either suffering an accident, having a close call, or simply being unable to overcome the anxiety of driving is a slow process. Regardless of the source of your anxiety, rest assured you are not alone and that your anxiety is curable. Speak to a lawyer who specializes in driving cases if you need help understanding your anxiety or if you are looking for someone who can help you get back on track to living a full, independent, and fear-free life, whether behind the wheel or otherwise.