A phobia is the extreme fear of an activity, object or situation, which is characterized by being disproportionate to the risk it represents. The phobia of driving a car, known as amaxophobia, is very common and is a very exhausting condition for the quality of life because depending on its degree, it can interfere in everyday activities: like going to work, attending appointments, making purchases, among others.
If you feel that driving anxiety controls you and is causing you to drive with a lot of anxiety or you are avoiding driving out of fear, it is very important to do something about it. First of all, it is good to understand how this phobia was generated. Some phobias may be written in our genes, however, this is not the case with amaxophobia.
This phobia can also arise because of a traumatic experience, which is the most common cause in many cases. Amaxophobia may develop gradually or rapidly and may arise due to any of the following experiences or situations:
- Experience or witness a traffic accident.
- Due to poor experience during driving lessons (e.g. getting screams or aggression from the instructor).
- Low tolerance for road stress, such as traffic jams, for example.
- Frightening driving experiences that have not had an accident as a result, but have produced a lot of anxiety, such as driving during a storm, under dense fog, on snow or mud, among others.
- Fear caused by the constant news related to traffic accidents.
Recognize The Symptoms Of Your Phobia
When you suffer from a phobia, you can experience various emotions and physical reactions ranging from light to completely paralyzing. In the case of amaxophobia some of these may be:
- Inability to drive a car. Paralyzing fear just by thinking about it.
- Physical symptoms such as sweating, headache, chest pain, palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, among others.
- A feeling of unreality when driving.
- A constant feeling that something is wrong with the car or that something is going to fail.
- A constant search for excuses to avoid driving, even when this can lead to conflicts with loved ones, for example.
How To Treat Driving Anxiety?
It is very difficult to overcome a phobia without any help or treatment, particularly if we have been experiencing the symptoms for quite some time and have let it grow. However, with appropriate treatment, they can be overcome. One of the most recommended options for these cases is cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps to change your thinking patterns around driving. Exposure therapy is another effective treatment in these cases, however, it is a more delicate alternative, as it must be done gradually so that it is not counterproductive.
In addition to seeking the help of a professional, there are also some actions that you can take on your own:
- Communicate your fears. Talking is very important because it can help you accept that you are suffering this fear. Putting feelings into words is an essential part of this process.
- Avoid thinking black and white. While it’s true that driving has its risks, being in a car doesn’t mean you’re going to have an accident. Drive responsibly and stay alert, This is essential as long as you carry out this activity.
- Learn to reduce your stress levels when you’re behind the wheel. You can practice some relaxation techniques before driving.
- If you have stopped driving for a while, try to come back gradually. Be comfortable in the car and try to make short trips on roads that you are familiar with. Make the necessary adjustments and reviews in your car for peace of mind: check the mirrors, adjust the seat well, wear comfortable shoes, check your car’s fluid levels to be optimal (fuel, oil, water, etc.). On the other hand, control your environment, your music, all to facilitate a more bearable experience.
- Use constant affirmations to remember that you are doing things well and cautiously, this will make you feel safer.
- Don’t forget that you’re not alone, many people experience this kind of phobia once in their life and manage to overcome it.
What’s The Next Step?
Controlling your anxiety and if possible overcoming it, beyond helping you overcome fear or phobia of driving, will help you in every aspect of your life. Don’t avoid your phobia, preferably look for ways to treat and deal with it, the sooner you accept this, the sooner you can begin your recovery.
It is important to note that there is no single way to overcome the driving anxiety, which works for me, may not be helpful to you and this is the case in many of the treatments for anxiety disorders. However, a life without anxiety makes the search process worthwhile and the important thing is not to give up.