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Anxiety driving

c_sparkles23 profile image

I’m new here and I really don’t know what to do. Only reason I decided to join is because I feel so alone and helpless. I feel like no one understands what I’m going through. For starters has anyone with anxiety ever had a sever anxiety attack that caused them to no be able to drive anymore. I am currently stuck at home with my kids 24/7. It’s been almost 4 weeks since the last time I was able to drive. I had a very bad anxiety breakdown while driving on the highway on my way to El Paso Texas and ever since I am afraid to drive and have another horrible episode. Some one please help me. I feel so alone and my depression isn’t helping either. 🥺

54 Replies

I’m so sorry that happened. Was there something on your mind that day?

I had been experiencing anxiety attacks for days, so I guess thinking about possibly getting one out in public cause me to have the worst anxiety attack I’ve ever experienced. To top it off Ialmost got hit by a semi driver. It was horrible and all I could hear was my kids crying in the back seat scared to death to see me having a breakdown.

And then what happened? It passed and you drove off?

Unfortunately no, I had to drive back to the nearest town where my grandma lives at and as I arrived I felt like I was going to faint. It was the worst anxiety and the longest I’ve had. It lasted almost an hr. To make things worst my gma checked my bp and it was super high. She then started panicking herself thinking I was having a heart attack so yeah that didn’t make things better. So ever since I have a sever fear of going through something similar all over again.

I can understand that. How do you think you can work through this?

Wow sorry to hear that,,, you need to be strong for your kids!!!

I don't drive at all because my anxiety is so severe. You are not alone ❤️

c_sparkles23 profile image
c_sparkles23 in reply to

I’m glad to know I’m not alone on this. It’s horrible not being able to go anywhere without depending on someone. I don’t have any family meme era where I live at so it makes it so much harder. My father who was my rock and was always there for me passed away a couple of months ago due to COVID complications and that has made my depression and anxiety so much worst.

You’re definitely not alone. I stopped driving on freeways years ago. Just take side streets. Definitely longer but at least I get there calm or sort of lol So sorry you’re going through this.

Thanks! I’m just glad to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I keep telling myself I’m such a failure for not being able to confront my fears but it’s not easy.

My first time I had to call a friend to drive me and my car home. One time I park though no one would park both in front and back of me I sat in my car crying cuz I couldn't move. Many other times too. I want to start trying to drive again. I miss it.

I’m 27 and I don’t have my license, not even a permit. I have really bad anxiety at the thought of a stranger giving me a driver’s test. I tried practicing with my mom in the parking lot, but I found myself so uncoordinated with the car. I kept slamming on the brakes instead of coming to a gentle stop, like you’re supposed to. People who drive make it look so easy. I know people say driving gives you independence, but secretly I think it’s a little superficial to base your self esteem on a car. As long as transportation is good, and as long as people are still open to giving you rides, I’d say it’s good. Also, this might just be my unpopular opinion. But I think it’s unfair for passengers to help drivers with gas. If you do choose to drive, you should know that giving people rides is your job. If not, don’t get a license in the first place.

I had never been afraid to drive until recently but now I’m so scared to even drive to my mail box. I literally start shaking and panicking as I get inside my car. Very ugly feeling.

Hi Sparkles yes I used to have the same problem with driving. I would get severe anxiety on the way home from work and have to get off the freeway and then try to drive home on surface streets. The experts are going to tell you it’s all in your head , some of it is . But most is physical brain chemicals out of balance. You need to give your brain good nutrition. Try getting some liquid fish oil Omega3, L theanine and cbd if it’s legal where your at . These are what I use and I’m pretty much anxiety free . These can help with depression also. Please research these and see if you want to try . Also get out and exercise if you can. I hope this will help 😊

Thanks so much for your feedback. I do try to go for walks in the afternoons here around my block. It helps to calm me down and makes me very sleepy so I try to go everyday.

detour13 profile image
detour13 in reply to Gordo6500

Does omega 3 fish oil really help?? I think I will try some..

Gordo6500 profile image
Gordo6500 in reply to detour13

Hi yes it worked for me, get high quality liquid you need to take at least 3000 mg of combined epa /dha Per dayit will tell you on the label like 1200 mgs per teaspoon . You can take more , I am taking it for tbi recovery, I had severe anxiety and depression it took about 2 weeks but I started feeling better after a week. You’ll have to see how it makes you feel you may have to take more , I was taking a lot more at first I’m now taking 3600 mgs a day . Also you might want to take L theanine about 50 mgs 2-3 times a day it calms your mind but doesn’t sedate you. But like the fish oil you’ll have to see what works for you. The fish oil feeds your brain and the Ltheanine calms your brain by blocking glutamate which is what makes our brains over stimulated during anxiety attack. Go and research them both so your just not taking my word for it . There’s a lot of studies on the net . But like I said this worked for me.

Try taking a 5 minute drive on local streets, or just go around the block one time. Do this every day until it is comfortable. Then increase to 10 minutes, still slowly and on local streets. Keep increasing very gradually whenever you feel comfortable enough, and preferably not faster than every 2 weeks, or even more. It would be best if you could do this without your kids. If not, you may have to wait until they are back to school.

In conjunction with the above, it might not be a bad idea to see a psychiatrist and/or therapist and to try antidepessants.

c_sparkles23 profile image
c_sparkles23 in reply to b1b1b1

Thank you! I am currently on prescribed antidepressants and anxiety medication. It’s only been two weeks tho, so helpfully I pray wothin the next few weeks I’ll be able to feel better than what I currently am.

b1b1b1 profile image
b1b1b1 in reply to c_sparkles23

Yes, they take about 4 weeks to start working fully.

c_sparkles23 profile image
c_sparkles23 in reply to b1b1b1

I was told it will take about 4 to 6 weeks for them to take full effect on my body. I pray that they work on me 🙏🏻🙏🏻

c_spsrkle23, I can relate. A while back, I had a really bad panic attack while driving. I pulled over and recorded. It was anxiety mixed with sadness. I generally stay away from meds but I was scared ofbthis happenening again and stated carrying relaxant medication with me wherever I went. I didn't want to get into a crash. Perhaps you could get something to keep with you just as a backup.

I myself have never taken any sort of medication, but unfortunately I was not able to control my anxiety all on my own this time. So I finally decided to give my doctor a call and he prescribed me some lorazepam. It has helped me some what but I’ve only been taking it for less than two weeks. I guess I’m gonna have to put my big pants on and practice driving around til I’m comfortable enough again.

I also stopped driving because I didn't feel like it was a safe thing, I was putting myself and others at risk. I have conceded one piece of my life after another until I ended up isolated, perhaps seeing someone once a month for about five minutes. Do not give up on trying in life, there IS hope and you are far from alone.

Remember to give yourself some positive feedback for the things you do accomplish!

I'm glad you found this forum, there are a lot of helpful, positive people here who truly do understand (in their own ways).

Thank you so much. It really does mean a lot to know I finally found a place where I actual people understand my situation and don’t judge me. I have no family left in the town I am currently living in rn and with my depression and anxiety it makes things so much more difficult, but I’m hopeful that the medications I was prescribed will work on me. I know I just started but I have faith that I’ll be feeling better soon. I just want to be able to go to church all over again like I used to every weekend. Thank you so much for all of your support really means a lot. 🙏🏻🤍

I sincerely hope you can find some loving support here, there are some great folks. As for family... you have your kids!

Why not set some goals for yourself? You could begin small with things like "got out of bed, did some dishes, laundry, paid bills" and set going to church as one of your long-term goals. Perhaps reach out to people there, that could also be a helpful community, maybe someone could come to visit or offer help in some other way?

I do try to set goals daily to keep my mind occupy and I do chores daily. With COVID is hard to get people to come and visit. I am thankful for my sons godmother she’s been very helpful when I need a favor or ride

That's good to hear! I would encourage you to keep being thankful for the good things you see, I think gratitude is one of the keys to happiness.

I think we're all more than a little sick of covid and how it's limited life. Reach out, maybe someone who has had a vaccination will be more likely to come to visit?

Hello.Welcome.

Thank you so much for joining us.

I hope you are feeling better?

I have had panic attacks while driving.

My panic attacks are devastating.

I can tell right before one hits.

A feeling comes over me.

My PA's involve me screaming at the top of my lungs, I urgently have to move, I just have to "get out" of where I am, I cry, and it feels like what I guess a heart attack would feel like?

I have slowly but surely nailed down everything that might bring one on.

I first rest. I no longer over extend myself.

I dont skip my meds and try not skipping meals.

I have incorporated CBD and THC into

my own herb/vitamin regime.

B/C I am a Christian my faith is paramount.

I pray all the time.

My Sundays are pretty much my day to attend church.

I hope my words have helped?

G*D bless.

Hello, and thank you for sharing your experience with me. I am so sorry to hear that you have gone to something similar as me. It is a horrible feeling, specially when the first thing that comes to mind is that you’re going to die or something erro le is about to happen. I pray to our God that you keep on feeling better.

its true

hi hun how's u doing? I'm sorry to hear that ur suffering, I'm a fully qualified Councillor and I unfortunately I've had to stop working, I've been suffering with anxiety and depression for years I have however started to take my own advice 😂 I can give you coping mechanisms that may help you? but if you want to chat or rant plz let me know xx hope you feel better soon xx

I can relate. I am in the middle of this crisis also. I don’t have any answers but would love to talk if you would like.

Well, I can relate. I gave up driving several years ago because I began to feel nervous while changing lanes, seeing things (cars) that weren't there, and I felt uncertain in my skill. Until that point I had driven for about 40 years. Now I rely on others or taxi service.

Catsamaze profile image
CatsamazeADAA Volunteer

Welcome to you…..I had several panic attacks while driving a couple of years ago. They were terrifying. I had to pull over and get myself composed before traveling on. At one point, as I began feeling those feelings again, I told myself “here we go again….I’ve felt this before and it’s horrible but it never killed me”. It wasn’t just words. I believed it. And panic while driving began to lose its teeth and I’ve never gone through it since. Why I can’t I apply the same technique to depressive episodes or anxiety, stress, and self-punishing thoughts? I’d love to know. in any case, try not to hink that you’ll never drive again. You will when you’re ready.

Yes I know exactly how you feel. I haven’t driven the freeway in27 years. Even on the surface streets, bridges and places where I feel trapped or an unfamiliar road also gives me attacks. It’s very scary to have these attacks. Don’t let this make you homebound. Try going around the block or in your neighborhood. Tell yourself that you are fine- out loud Take one of your benzo s half an hour before. All the best to you,and remember: you are not crazy and you are not alone

Welcome to the group first of all 🙂 Sorry to hear about your ordeal, I'd say though that it's completely reasonable to be anxious about getting behind the wheel at all after that. Can you start with some shorter routes to build up your confidence again? ✌️

I have a friend who has anxiety and will only.drive in the country where tractors and farm animals are. He use to drive all over but progress the just driving the country. He had gotten married before the anxiety hit. He doesn't want to take too many meds because he doesn't want to lose who he really is. Great person but his anxiety took over his life so he stays at home and goes to the store and etc with his wife. He'll only go to his mom's house. I hope you get back to the way you were and be happy again.🌹

You are NOT alone. Have you had added stress to your life? Something traumatic? I loathe driving places I’ve never been to or don’t go to very often. I live in an area where just ONE street has3 traffic circles and I need a gravol just to go on it. There are days where I can’t even get up my nerve to go to Walmart-it is in walking distance. I’ve had to cancel appointments last minute because all of a sudden I can not get up the courage to drive there. I’ve even considered putting a New Driver sign in my car just so people are more forgiving in traffic. I could go on…does any of this resonate with you? My best advice is to work with your doctor or therapist with this. With Covid, a lot of appointments can be done by phone or video chat. I’m not giving up and I’m just taking things one day at a time. Go at your OWN pace. You do you. I refuse to be bullied or shamed over this “affliction”. We’ll BOTH get to the bottom of things when we’re meant to. Love yourself!

Hello,I have been in you shoes, so one thing I can say is don't lean on the benzos they gave you. It will only lead to a bad situation, trust me. Do you have a job? if not you need to get outside and see the nature around you. Go sit in you car, roll down the windows and just breath in and breath out, deep breaths slowly . Just try it:)

I know exactly what your going through because I have a fear of driving myself. I don’t know exactly why it happened although I have severe anxiety/panic attacks. I’ve been driving around my track to get me used to driving again. My anxiety really acts up when I get to a light intersection especially if it’s a big intersection. I’m hoping to get over this hump in my life because I’m home 24/7 with my daughter as well. The only time I get out is on the weekend when my husband is home. So sorry this happened to you, I don’t wish this on anyone.

Hi there. First off, you are definitely not alone. I live in Los Angeles and I haven’t driven since April. It’s been very difficult for me to drive because I had three major accidents in the last 20 years (2 of which were not my fault and went into a long legal battle) and then three years ago I had two brain surgeries when I found out I had brain tumors. Ever since the brain surgeries I’ve been terrified to drive even down the block. I took the bus to the DMV to renew my drivers license. I have been practicing my driving just around the block here & there. But it’s still hard & frustrating but I’ve learned to be kind to myself. Just because you don’t drive, does not make you less of a person. Driving anxiety is WAY more common than you think. Give yourself time. Try gentle yoga and Qi Gong for relaxation. GABA as well as L-theanine supplements can help the anxiety. I would be probably doing a little bit better if I didn’t live in Los Angeles. Having driving anxiety in Los Angeles is a different beast than living elsewhere. Good luck to you and remember as a friend recently told me, “you are a remarkable person and driving is overrated. “

I have a confession. Some years back I suffered a horrible depression and I took anti-depressant pills to medicate myself. I bought them across the border without a prescription and although the drug was expired, I took as many as four in one day. I regretted doing so because it would spike my anxiety to such a degree that it affected my driving.

When a drug expires it doesn't stop working, it simply becomes less potent and that was the reason why I had decided to increase my dosage because I was not noticing an improvement in my depression by taking only one pill. I was desperate to be cured.

What would actually happen is that I would be stricken with irrational fear when passing some intersections. In one instance there was a large tractor trailer truck about to make a left turn and before I reached the intersection I felt this cold fear and it forced me to make an immediate right turn to avoid crossing the intersection. In other situations at an intersection I felt fear that prevented me from pressing the accelerator. It has been years since I used up all the medication yet once in a while this fear returns in a mild form. I hope I didn't cause permanent damage to myself. I will probably have to see a psychiatrist to become normal again.

Oh yes.. I had my 1st panic attack at 18.. And I didint leave the house for a couple months.. The last thing I thought of when I went to sleep and the 1st thing I thought of when I woke up... panic attacks were on my mind 24 7 .. I had a really hard time driving anywhere thinking I am going to have a panic attack...

I am 53 and still suffering from them.. I had a really bad one last weekend .. Thought I was having a heart attack and it just fueled my panic attacks.. Was a vicious circle.. It's so mentally exhausting... I am so tired of suffering .. There's a lot of times I go to sleep and wish I never wake up... they have totally ruined my life.

But saying that.. I have been able to have a successful career and was married 2 times and have had long loving relationships... but at the end of the day.. Those freaken demons still haunt me ( panic attacks and anxiety)

Therapy really helped me a lot and support groups,, I realized I am not alone ,, a lot of people in the same situation as myself.

They will always be with you, we just have to learn how to control them when they come .. And as you know it's not easy.. They are freaken scary.. You would think after 35 years of having panic attacks from my 1st at 18, I would have been used to them.. But when I get one it still feels like the 1st one I had..

There is great support on here and lot of people feel what we feel. One day at a time..

What really works for me is when I have a great day . Weekend or week. I embrace it and take it all in and tell myself.. Ahhhhhhhh this is how life is suppose to feel...

And do u feel like running home everytime you have a panic attack? I did the for years and it fueled the beast.. The worst thing to do.. Someone wrote take baby steps .. Drive a little farther everyday.. This will help... I used to drive a couple more exits on my way home from work everyday , this really helped to re program your brain...

I'm sorry your feeling this.. I feel for you.. I was and am in the same boat.. Be strong ..

Yes! I tried driving to our local supermarket which is literally about two blocks away and something just came over me and I couldn’t drive so I drove back home and immediately came running to my room crying. I felt like a loser crying out of frustration in front of my kids. It sucks. I remain hopeful and I pray everyday and night that all this shall pass soon and that my meds start taking full effect on my body.

As hard as it is ,, it makes it worst when you run home.. Get a happy face sticker and put it on your dash board and make that think of your happy place... I had a bright yellow silly face on my dash board for years and that really helped me out....

I should try that, thanks for the advice

Hello. I have this same problem, I have a car and I hardly ever drive it, it just sits in the drive way, I am so afraid to drive fearing I will have a panic attack, I would be so happy to over come this, luckily I have a husband that understands and does all of the driving but it would be nice to be self sufficient and be able to just hop in my car and do things when I feel like getting out. The thought of driving on the freeway is more fearful than anything! I do take meds and they don't seem to help. Hopefully I'll be able to find a therapist that can help me with this. Thank you for listening......

c_sparkles23 profile image
c_sparkles23 in reply to Msjules

I’m so sorry you’re going through the same thing as I am. I know exactly how you feel, I do too hope that one day I’ll be able to be brave enough and drive all over again. Crazy thing is I used to be a driver for our local psychiatric hospital and I drove everywhere alone for hrs and ever since I started having anxiety attacks now I can’t even drive to our corner stores.

Msjules profile image
Msjules in reply to c_sparkles23

Same with me, I used to drive all over the place and get on the freeway with no problem, now the thought of it gives me anxiety. I sometimes even get panic attacks driving with my husband on the freeway, I don't know why the freeway does this to me, so I ask him to take back roads, of course it takes longer and he tries to be patient with me. Maybe we can find a way to support each other, that would be great! I wish there was some sort of chat group out there that we can all join and give ideas and support to each other :)

Hi Sparkles 23, I have sever panic attacks when I drive! I have had to pull over and call for help. I feel like I’m going to faint and my breathing is totally off. Currently, I cannot drive alone if at all. My doctor has me on Paxil but it is not working. Very discouraging. If anyone has had success with overcoming panic while driving, please reach out. Thank you.

c_sparkles23 profile image
c_sparkles23 in reply to Toni617

I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through it as well. Prayers that we all get to someday overcome this anxiety 🙏🏻

Thank you Sparkles23! I pray all day.

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