Driving : I had a panic attack last year in... - Anxiety Support

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I had a panic attack last year in the car, and since this time when I get in the car I'm anxious my head feels light headed I sweat almost feel like I'm losing control.

Does anyone have this? How can I overcome it?

I'm petrified to drive alone let alone with someone :-(

15 Replies

Hi sorry you are feeling this bad at the moment,its just your anxiety tricking you to relate getting in your car with danger,when a panic attack triggers,your mind then sees the place you were in at the time as dangerous and this triggers the panic in your car,the best thing to do is drive anyway,and feel the panic but keep driving,till the panic goes,its hard but the only way to overcome it,its only a trick of the mind,you are not in danger,please believe me ,you will not lose control,a panic attack always builds up then fades away,i know its hard but the only way to beat it is to carry on as normal,hope you get there ,i wish you well

in reply to Worried111

Thank u so much, I truly feel so out of control with it. It constantly comes in to my mind I'm a danger . So I avoid most driving I only do small journey.

Yesterday was driving and a lady started tailgating me made me feel even worse that the panic was there.

I hate these feelings :-(

I was like that after my car accident , it takes time to recover but you will , take some magnesium at night that should help you to relax a bit and have a lavender and Himalayan salt bath .

in reply to helen4enjo

Thank you for replying I'm desperate to not have these horrible feelings. Anymore

Driving phobia is awful. I'm working to overcome just what you're describing. Keep pushing myself to drive.

in reply to Kiwimama

So many people ate suffering with this, every day is a huge struggle

There are times I jus can't face it.

How do u cope when u feel when coming?

in reply to Lou1580

Do you mean how do I cope when I feel the anxiety attack coming on?

I try to keep going but if I start feeling dizzy or the panic builds too intensely I pull over and do some calming breathing and take a few sprays of my homeopathic panic remedy. Once the dizziness subsides I start driving again. At the moment though I avoind the motorway and driving in areas I am unfamiliar with. If I need to go further afield I ask someone to come with me or drive me but I am trying to avoid becoming dependent on others.

in reply to Kiwimama

That's exactly how Iam, at the moment I avoid dual carriageways and a motorway is a no no for me. I've always got someone with me it's a horrible feeling I started using those Bach sprays but not sure if they help me

Its important to keep trying though. I will do short motorway trips and my counselor has me working to increase how far I can go each time. I alwasy stay in the outside lane though so I can get off when I need too.

in reply to Kiwimama

I did a small drive today felt good that I achieved a part I hate

Yes, I haven't driven in years. For some reason when I try to and am alone, I feel as you do. That I am not in control and start to panic. Therefore, my husband takes me everywhere. I want to try to overcome this feeling and get back to driving so I can get my Independence back. You and I just need to say to ourselves we got this. If we can be in the house alone, we can drive alone. 😕

in reply to Marieg129

It has not one impacted my driving it's affected my home, taking my child to school shopping most things I now dread I'm determined to not let it beat me :-(

Makes me feel good I have people to talk to who understand

Here are the "tools" my counsellor gave me to hopefully one day overcome this driving phobia.

If initially you need to have a support person in the passenger seat that is ok. Baby Steps.

Ahead of time learn and practice breathing and active relaxation techniques.

1) Always plan your trip carefully for a time when you are generally healthy, if your anxiety is typically better at a certain time of day plan it for then.

2) Plan your exact route ahead of time. Use a gps if need be.

3) Small and achievable steps offer more success so build up the challenge slowly.

4) Have a reward planned for your destination... eg: lunch with a friend while out.

5) Have an anxiety plan for if/when you feel anxious. And rate your anxiety so that you know when its ok to pull over for a rest.

*Low grade anxiety = distract with music you love to sing along with.

*Mild anxiety, where you become aware of tense muscled and nervousness = distract with positive thoughts about your happy place or the reward on offer, activly release physical tension.

*Moderate anxiety where it is becoming a bit uncomfortable = Slow stomach breathing in with one colour, out with another, positive affirmations, prayer.

* Increased Anxiety where you feel unsafe and like an anxiety attack might be on its way, physical feelings on anxiety or worrying irrational thoughts start to take your focus = pull over somewhere safe and use active relaxation techniques and breathing to calm down. Say aloud "It's just a feeling, It's only anxiety, It will pass, I'm OK... If you are a believer... God is with Me & prayer. If you use homeopathic panic remedies use them if need be but the goal is to eventually do it all on your own.

6) Take note of when you anxiety drops down to more managable levels then congratulate yourself and carry on to your planned destination. (It takes as long as it takes, and that's OK.)


You can stop and do this as many times as you need to so long as you reach your planned destination and get your reward.

6) Have another reward and celebrate when you return home.

No matter how long it took or how may panic stops you needed, YOU DID IT.

7) Plan your next drive to be a slightly longer or more challenging one with a slightly bigger reward.

8) Increase the frequency of your driving as you start to regain confidence. The more often you drive the more confident you will be. I personally deliberately drive every day.

Thank you this really does help, and my cbt counciler has mentioned something similar to this :-)

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