Dealing with Anxiety & Panic Attacks - Anxiety and Depre...

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Dealing with Anxiety & Panic Attacks

John88 profile image

Hello all,

I am reaching out for some help and tips or advice anyone can give is useful. I suffer from extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Now it is effecting my driving to a point where I can no longer drive on a bridge or highway. I feel I am going to lose control of my car and crash and cause an extreme accident. my whole body clinches up and my eyes start twitching to the point where they want to close, my heart racing out of my chest. I then start tapping on the breaks and try stopping the car on the bridge because im afraid to even move forward. This has been happening to me a lot lately and it is freaking me the hell out. Really if anyone has any advise on driving anxiety besides the same old bullcrap of try breathing and counting... I mean really something that works. This is now effecting my career as a manager. Anxiety and panic disorder has taken over my life. And by doing this has caused me such a big amount of depression to the point where I really start questioning how can I continue to live if my life continues to get smaller and smaller due to the anxiety limiting my life to be able to do anything.

Thanks in advance guys for any help or anyone who reaches out.


14 Replies

Have you talked to your doc yet? Not a bad place to start if you trust them. I know when it’s happening the Little “tricks” people give you don’t help a full blown attack. You usually have to get to the root of the fear. Maybe therapy? Some meds may help if you’re open to that route and it doesn’t just have to be an anti depressant. There’s new meds to slow your heart so the panic and anxiety doesn’t set in as badly. Hope any of this helps you! Good luck. And you CAN do it!

John88 profile image
John88 in reply to PrimoB

First. Thanks for the reply. I have been dealing with this for about 3-4 years now. I have been through so many different doctors, hospitals, Therapy, etc. but none of them helped in im being honest. It was all false. If I am having an attack where I cant breathe. They tell you to focus on your breathing. Well if I start focusing on my breathing while I feel like I cant breathe then I really start to think something is wrong with my breathing and I start to panic even more!.. I found one guy who has one program that was able to help me with my anxiety and that is the DARE response by Barry Mcdonaugh. He teaches you that the only way out is through. If I feel like I cant breathe I tell myself okay anxiety I want you to take all of my breathe away and make me suffocate. What this does is not switches the brain. The brain says why the hell are you asking for more of this scary stuff..and than the brain realizes how false your anxiety is and it switches it off. It is the most effective thing I know to help me without any medications. I don't want meds... however long story short... driving is not really discussed in the Dare response book. For Driving I am still searching on the methods and honestly it is really wearing me down. It is preventing me to drive to work.. and I get so shaken up when I do drive to work that the rest of my day is ruined just thinking about what happened on the drive to work. I really need help with the driving issue and not sure where to turn.

If anyone has any advice it would be really appreciated.

My heart goes out to you and your situation because I’ve been there. I do almost the same things as you. A few things I’ve done before that helped me I would roll down the window and let cool air hit my face. If it was hot out, then I’d crank up the air conditioning and have it blast in my face. Also, if the breathing doesnt help then I will also turn the radio on and focus on the music. One other trick I use is counting. I’ll ask myself several questions, like what color is the car in front of me? Anything to get my mind off the situation.

I hope maybe something I said can help.

Good luck and I wish you well!

John88 profile image
John88 in reply to look42meetu

Thank you for response. Yes I go through that constantly... the air conditioning is on full blast because once I start panicking I start sweat which gives me the illusion of being hot.. I tried the radio. I tried podcast. I just cant seem to tackle the main problem which is switching my brain off from thinking about the fear I felt last time. I cant get over it and each time I panic from the fear of panicking. really it is horrible. I feel I am going to die in the car the way the sensations hit me. But I have not tried counting or asking myself questions. I will keep those tips handy and give them a shot today when I drive back for work.

Thanks again for your help. I really want to get to the bottom of this and help others who suffer with this as well. Honestly at one point I used to drive all over the USA and take road trips by myself and drive no problems for 12 to 15 hours in the car just enjoying my own company and the views of the road. I cant believe where I am today that I cant even step out of my house and take a drive around my block without. Honestly my life has become soo small. But I am going to keep searching for a way...there must be a way to get my lift back and the millions suffering from this crap

I do not suffer with what u do BUT I do have PTSD from 3 mvas..Im always trying to dodge seeing mvas.Ive learned to avoid and go around certain streets.I advise those driving with me..LEts NOT describe what we see/re:mva.

Try if possible to find alternate routes..until u CAN do it one day. Don't give up..just fake it till u make it.. to help URSELF!

John88 profile image
John88 in reply to

Thanks for response guys really to all. But I want to make it clear that we all are human. And at some point we did not suffer with these illnesses. At one point we didn't have these fears or issues. Something switched off in our brains that we need to find. We need to get our lives back. I wont rest until it is done. I might sound like a strong person until I get in my car after work and drive home and get humbled by my anxiety and panic and it will scare the crap out of me like always! and I will bow down to it and let it give me fear and control my every movement of hiding, shame, fear and give me all the sensations of dying that it brings my way. But I am telling you that I don't want to avoid and look for different routes or any of that stuff. I want to find out how to not avoid any routes or how to not be afraid of this fake illusion. this is what I want to find out how to do. Myself and probably all of you have been dealing with this for too long now and running and hiding from it. It is not so simple as saying ok I wont run or hide anymore because when the sensation of dying is back you give in immediately. I don't know about you guys but im tired of giving in. Im tired of having a limited life. Im tired of being afraid of things I never was afraid of before and at this point the only thing I want is to have my life back. each and every day and every hour we are losing time and I continue to lock myself in my room everyday losing everything that this life has to offer us.

I hope one day one of us finds the answers on how to turn this anxiety panic switch off correctly as I feel all we are learning to do is learn how to cope with it. Learn how to live with it. But for me. I don't want to live with it. I want it out completely...

in reply to John88

Sorry I couldn't help.I truly wish u the best! :)

John88 profile image
John88 in reply to

You have helped by being a human being who cares for other peoples. Your warmth and affection is truly appreciated my friend. Thank you and all the best to you as well!

in reply to John88

John, I think you are so brave for being authentic and vulnerable on this discussion. I have asked the same question of myself: how can I be so anxious about stuff that used to be manageable? This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I get depressed that my life has come to this and on the other hand, it gives me hope that I can get back there.

John88, I had anxiety and panic while driving. I started with the rear view mirror. I turned it up , I still made sure that I was safe and could see all I needed to see, but that took out a factor. Liked you said, I made sure I was not holding my breath and I used to carry a worry stone. A flat stone that I would pick up and run my thumb over it while driving. It was smooth and slick and I thought about how the stone felt trying to change my thought pattern. Lastly, if I felt like it I screamed as loud and as long as I could and whenever I wanted. I used to think people were trying to get me off the road. Remember, You have every right to be on that street or highway, take your time and take it at your pace. I'd say.. Get a stone. Best of Luck. Mistykitten (I'm new today)

Hi John

It's been 4 months so I'm hoping your situation has changed however I felt compelled to write because my situation is similar. I grew up loving driving and travelling that is now my struggle as well. My commute is long and in heavy traffic and i can spiral pretty quickly. I completely agree the only way is through. While I have not completely conquered it yet, something that's helping me is exposure therapy. I broke my commute up into thirds and on the weekend I drive the first third, just enough to trigger the anxiety, and turn around. I'll drive this loop for 2-3 hours until I'm so bored there is not anxiety. I did this for a couple of weeks. After that i drove 2/3rds of the distance repeatedly on the weekends.

I'm planning to "graduate" to making the full drive, one the weekend when I can turn around and come home and not have to stay next week.

Best of luck, I'm pulling for you!

Is there another route you could take to work that doesn’t involve bridges?

I hear you John88, and it is unbelievable how it can turn around from being able to drive and travel to this sickening feeling. I have had similar symptoms, may be just not as intense. It started with occasional palpitations and developed into feeling that i am about to loose myself. I have had it for about 16 months now, 6 months into it it suddenly escalated. I was on a plane once and it hit me and I lost consciousness. I was completely unprepared for such an outcome. My doctor diagnosed vasovagal syncope. Since that incident I was afraid I could pass out while driving. I would to pullover often when I felt symptoms. It has gotten better since but all I did was to breathe and tense and relax different groups of muscles. You have done more than I have so far so I do not have anything to offer you except sympathy. What i will do though is I will try using medications to see which have the best effect on me.

Hi John. Not sure if you're still on here, but if so, can you tell me if you came across something that helped? I'm in the same boat. Thanks!

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