Panic Attacks While Driving

Panic Attacks While Driving

Panic attacks while driving usually arise due to anxiety and stress. They are often unexpected and are very sudden. These are truly horrifying experiences.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Panic attack causes are mostly related to fear and anxiety and are found strikingly different in each and every case. Some people are overanxious during traffic jams. The traffic on high-speed freeways can generate excessive stress. With driving come anxiety and stress. So, panic attacks while driving are quite common. It is a type of claustrophobia due to which some people are extremely afraid of being trapped in a vehicle. Some are always anxious of being hit by an oncoming vehicle while some worry excessively about the failure of brakes or breaking down of their cars or puncturing of a tire. For most of us, there is always a slight fear of driving. Memories of frightful incidents of the past may linger in your mind while driving.
Causes
Panic disorder runs in families. At times, panic attacks are genetic. However, those having no such family history may also develop it. Physical illnesses like hypoglycemia may lead to excessive stress. Panic attacks and low blood sugar go hand in hand. The number of panic attacks during pregnancy is a constant cause of concern today. But the causes of such attacks can be overcome. The mental and physical mechanisms of the body naturally help you respond to a threat. But why a person panics, when there seems to be no apparent danger, is not yet known to science. Also, scientists have no answer to why some people are more susceptible to the problem than others.
Symptoms
Fainting, sweating, shortness of breath, headache, chills, abdominal cramping, chest pain, palpitation, hot flashes, nausea, trembling, tightness in the throat, tingling, hyperventilation, dizziness, etc. are some of the common symptoms of panic attacks while driving. There is a fear of losing control, fear of dying, perceptual distortions and a strong feeling of a need to escape. The body naturally responds to the danger, which is why these changes are experienced by a person while driving. The symptoms of panic attacks are almost similar to those of heart attacks.
The panic attack is experienced for 5-10 minutes or sometimes for half an hour, or even for a longer period of time. One feels totally exhausted due to a panic attack while driving. Fear of driving is to some extent beneficial as that is what protects you from accidents. It is due to this fear that you drive cautiously. But the same fear can turn into a panic attack while driving.
Treatment
Keep yourself occupied and remain in the present moment. Let anxiety and panic never haunt you. Look at the scenery around you. Think about the pleasant things that happened to you. Do not waste your time and energy in fearing something that you cannot control. Vehicles can break down any time. Many a times, the situation is unavoidable. So, better be prepared! Check whether the spare tire is in good condition. You can always carry a flashlight, reflector kit, towrope, list of emergency numbers, a bottle of water and other necessary things with you. Follow traffic rules. Be attentive to your surroundings. Put on some music and relax. Worries are never going to help you in any way. You can have light snacks or fruits. All this will help get rid of the fear that leads to panic attacks while driving.
If you feel any kind of discomfort, pull your car over and get out of it, breathe deeply and slowly. Let your lungs be filled with fresh air. You have to observe your feelings, accept them and control them. Think positively. Fear may or may not be real, but the anticipation of fear is always real. If your hands are trembling and your palms are sweating, relax your eyes, forehead, jaw, teeth, etc. This will help you in remaining alert. Relaxation of the whole body is necessary. If you have some anxiety pills recommended by your doctor, you may take one, as these pills work really fast. But, you have to be extremely careful while taking such pills as they might make you feel drowsy.
Prevention is better than cure. It is better to overcome the moment of fear before it becomes uncontrollable. Thanks to modern-day researchers, we have a variety of panic attack treatments, available in the form of effective medications and psychotherapy. The more you try to resist feeling anxious, the more you feel so. So, just accept that you are anxious. Make your own decisions. Do not let the fear influence your decisions. And it will never be able to trigger a panic attack while driving.