Anyone else get panic attacks while driving on a motorway/dual carriageway?

Hi, I'm new to this site, and was hoping other people out there get this as I feel like I am going mad. I get panic attacks driving on the motorway and also dual carriageways. I feel sure that I am going to crash, and have to really breath through it and get whoever is in the car with me to distract me from the feeling. I've just seen on the NHS website that you are supposed to tell DVLA of panic disorder (well I've not been diagnosed yet, I am yet to go to the Drs) as it may mean you have your licence revoked, is that correct? When I go on the DVLA site it doesn't mention panic disorder as a medical condition that needs to be referred to them. Now I am worried about going to the Dr as he may say I can no longer drive. I'm fine if I drive locally, just not on roads where cars are doing 70/80 miles an hour! In fact I feel happy driving on normal roads.

I don't get panic attacks anywhere else.

Does anyone else have this? Have they reported it to the DVLA? Any help would be massively wonderful.

Thank you.

20 Replies

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  • And just to add, I have made the decision not to drive on motorways/dual carriageways until I get this sorted.

  • Yes I get that in fact I dont like driving anywhere unfamiliar or night driving also gets me panicky though at night I find country roads really scary and worry about breaking down in the middle of nowhere so I tend to avoid all these situations lol

  • Do you think it's necessary to report it to the DVLA? To be honest that makes me even more worried, the thought of not being able to drive at all!

  • No Ive not reported it I need to drive to work but thats only local so not a problem I just avoid the situations that make me panic lol but I suppose thats not really a solution!

    Mimii x

  • Hi bunny,

    I did get this too, it eventually got so bad I couldn't drive at all. I'm ok now, hewever

    I still get a bit claustrophobic in jams, but manage them now.

    It sounds like its the speed of the other cars thats the problem, and that sounds like maybe you are worrying to much that your mind cannot focus on just driving because its full up with thinking. Also when our nerves are on edge, its a bit shocking when someone goes past suddenly. It just seems too fast, out of control.

    I would learn a relaxation program, that you could use regularly everyday and in these situations, so you could slowly, get used to them again.

    In general anxiety sufferers are very careful drivers as they are alert with adrenaline, more so than the average person.

    It could be a problem it they are drugged up maybe.

    I would say focus on relaxing into your anxiety, and getting some good understanding of whats going on for you, and this situation will become easier. The doctors are the first place to start with this really, and you wont automatically be stopped from driving, I'm not.

    wishing you well

    Bxxx

  • Thank you, that makes me feel better. I will make an appointment to see the doctor next week and take it from there. xxx

  • Hi, Crossbunny - I had this problem - I don't drive now, can't afford a car :( - but I had HUGE trouble learning to drive, and even when I'd passed my test, I couldn't get myself on dual carriageways/motorways (I actually think it's mad that you pass your test having NEVER driven on a motorway! :( ) This was a real problem, cos I had to drive for work, and the easiest way was a dual carriageway or motorway to get where i needed to be.

    So - i found a driving instructor - he advertised as specialising in "Elderly, Disabled and Nervous Drivers" - well I wasn't disabled but I thought 2 out of 3 was good enough, ;) and i had some "confidence-building" lessons on dual carriageways - they really really helped! He was great, really funny too - he was pushing me to overtake a lorry in the slow lane, so I said to him "I hope you're tired of Life, Keith!" and he replied - "Yeah, I am, really f*cked off" ;)

    I've seen loads of tv programmes like Bad Drivers with similar problems, and none of them have been told they should tell the DVLA - AND it's a very common problem! Anxiety UK has a whole section on driving phobia - go to:-

    anxietycare.org.uk/docs/dri...

    Good luck, hun, you CAN overcome this!

    Love

    Rose

    xxx

  • I haven't but i know someone who has.

  • I hate dual carriageways and motorways. With me I think it's an agoraphobic type symptom - the feeling of being trapped on the road until you reach the next exit really makes me deeply uncomfortable. Do you get any agoraphobic symptoms?

  • Me too-I am so relieved to know someone else suffers from this (not for your sake of course!) I get absolutely panic-stricken with the feeling of being trapped on a motorway/dual carriageway , even fast A roads, and avoid them completely if I can-i don't drive for this reason,so it means telling whoever's driving me that I can only go on small country roads(which I enjoy)-but often people are impatient or don't get it-we live in a fast world! it is an agoraphobic kind of fear as my fear of being trapped (and perhaps going out of control) extends to fear of flying, trains,boats. It's a nightmare as I can't travel! I do feel for you. xx

  • I hate driving! I had seven tests because i panicked so much, i can only drive without getting stressed on roads i learned on before i passed my test. I have a particular fear of roundabouts and slip roads. I have problems with agoraphobia, getting lost, crashing, the usual!

  • I've had driving phobia for years. When I was young I'd drive anywhere - central London, motorways, five hours to Cornwall, nothing was a challenge, then anxiety struck and like you, I find local busy roads a problem. Sometimes I can't even be passenger in a car driving on a busy motorway, my boyfriend has to put the child-locks on because I have a fear of jumping out!

  • You will be surprised how commion this is. I suffer from GAD and depression and I have 2 friends who suffer with panic attacks whilst driving and wont go on the motor way and always take teh same journeys and will never take a journey unless they have driven it before.

    My firends dont accept they have a problem and just say, 'oh well, its some thing i just cant do' - not to be sexist, but they are all women. i have tried opening up to them and saying maybe its a panic or GAD thing, but they just clam up and deny they have a problem or need any advice.

    The best thing you can do is talk about it and start making it better rather than hoping it will just go away. SO WELL DONE... Please let us all know how you get on with everything. You sound like you want to make a change for the better.

    I have just starting reading about a guy called carl sheppard, he helps you rebalance anxiety and panic attacks, his advice might be able to help. take care everyone.

  • I have suffered from panic attacks on motorways for 14 years. It started with no warning one day on the M5 and quickly took a hold of things until I stopped driving on motorways completely. I went abroad to live and was unable to get any help for many years. Each time I have to go anywhere, I have to work out the route that there is no motorway and no dual carriageway. Eventually, I visited my doctor and he sent me to a mental health organisation where I am undergoing a 1 to 1 cognitive Behavior Therapy program. The CBT makes you question the way you think about things and look deeply into the problem. Once I mastered the thought process, I had to start some exposure work and practice what I have learned. This takes ages and has to be dealt with slowly. I started on 'easy' roads and slowly started to build my confidence again. Then slowly moved onto dual carriageways that I didn't know or had never been on before. I have been doing this for a number of months now. On Sunday, I due to go the motorway for the first time. I am going to go very early in the morning when there is less traffic and I am going to chose a section of either the M4 or M5 that is the shortest. I will have to practice everything I have learned beforehand and if I am in the wrong frame of mind on the morning, we won't do it because if we have a bad experience, this knocks me back a bit. I would recommend this type of therapy and I was able to get it on the NHS with no problem.

  • I have suffered from panic attacks on motorways for 14 years. It started with no warning one day on the M5 and quickly took a hold of things until I stopped driving on motorways completely. I went abroad to live and was unable to get any help for many years. Each time I have to go anywhere, I have to work out the route that there is no motorway and no dual carriageway. Eventually, I visited my doctor and he sent me to a mental health organisation where I am undergoing a 1 to 1 cognitive Behavior Therapy program. The CBT makes you question the way you think about things and look deeply into the problem. Once I mastered the thought process, I had to start some exposure work and practice what I have learned. This takes ages and has to be dealt with slowly. I started on 'easy' roads and slowly started to build my confidence again. Then slowly moved onto dual carriageways that I didn't know or had never been on before. I have been doing this for a number of months now. On Sunday, I due to go the motorway for the first time. I am going to go very early in the morning when there is less traffic and I am going to chose a section of either the M4 or M5 that is the shortest. I will have to practice everything I have learned beforehand and if I am in the wrong frame of mind on the morning, we won't do it because if we have a bad experience, this knocks me back a bit. I would recommend this type of therapy and I was able to get it on the NHS with no problem.

  • Hello

    Sad to say I cannot confirm what they would say, up here I spend most of my time one two way country roads and going in and out of our county town,

    The last time I was on a dual was about six months ago.

    All I can suggest is it may be a good idea to take a few hours with a driving school to get your confidence back. Also if you have a driver who is in your family just to sit and say nothing that may help.

    If you see the GP it may mean that they could defer your ticket to drive, possibly under that it may be a long time if ever to get the ticket back.

    One thing they could do is supply a CPN to try and convince you to take them out in the car, although I would imagine they would prefer family or an instructor.

    Whatever you do try and understand your fear and how groundless your worry is If you are ok on normal roads keep on them and arrange your journeys to keep of the fast roads.

    The AA used to sell a Road map on CD that you can enter to stay on standard roads, that may help you. The Program I have is about ten years old and still current when it comes to two lane roads

    Google has a good app for working out routes that may be an idea

    Good Luck

    BOB

  • I have the exact same symptoms. I am fine driving on single carriage roads, in towns etc but as soon as I know I am going to drive on a bypass I stay awake worrying all night and try my best to avoid the road in question. If o do go on a bypass I plan my route so that I know where I can stop or exit the carriageway. Sometimes when I leave the carriageway I decide I'm k and re enter the carriageway again but then panic again. Went with a driving instructor yesterday and achieved the longest drive on a by pass that I've had for years do it definitely helped.

  • I have the exact same symptoms. I am fine driving on single carriage roads, in towns etc but as soon as I know I am going to drive on a bypass I stay awake worrying all night and try my best to avoid the road in question. If o do go on a bypass I plan my route so that I know where I can stop or exit the carriageway. Sometimes when I leave the carriageway I decide I'm k and re enter the carriageway again but then panic again. Went with a driving instructor yesterday and achieved the longest drive on a by pass that I've had for years do it definitely helped.

  • Yeah I have the same problem have not figured out how to deal with it yet mine started in 2003 while I had a driving job was fine the first couple months not sure what triggered it but it seems it did get worse used to drive over 300 miles a day then one day I started feeling it on the way back after a couple days of it happening I thought it was maybe fumes getting into the car I hope I can figure it out cause I do like to drive anywhere just wish I was able to.

  • I've been driving for about 10 years now, I used to have no problems with motorways but now I just can't without having a panic attack. Also done A roads pose a problem. Went to Bolton a couple of weeks ago with my wife driving on the motorway and was just panicking all the way! I wasn't even driving! Then had to drive to Birmingham on the A41 and was panicking most of the way, until I started talking about a book I was reading and the panic disappeared...suppose if I could babble all the time I'd be okay....

    I've had 3 blow outs on motorways so I suppose that could be the cause?

    But my 2 jobs are as local delivery driver and have no problem at all.

    I'm actually more worried about being a motorway passenger at the moment than driving on a motorway - maybe the complete lack of control?

    Used to drive all over the country and also abroad with no problem, now it fills me with fear just thinking about driving distances on motorways....aaaaagghhh!

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