We may not like it, but driving anxiety is a real phenomenon -- and it affects a good number of people, many of whom choose to avoid driving altogether because of it. In many cases, this form of anxiety is a result of suffering a car accident, which means that it's actually quite common.
Reasons for post-accident driving anxiety vary from individual to individual. Some people fear that they will get into another accident - even if they have been driving for years without an incident. In some cases, a mere thought of driving can cause the victim to feel anxious, which prevents them from getting behind the wheel in the first place. Other people are afraid that they will suffer a panic attack whilst driving, which they think can get them hurt -- even if that's not necessarily true. The fear of harming others is prevalent among many post-accident drivers as well.
But, regardless of why you fear driving, anxiety is rarely a good reason to quit -- because it can be treated. Here are several methods you can try:
Psychotherapy is the most obvious and effective way of beating trauma-related anxiety. So, if you have suffered a car accident, then this is the way to go. You may feel embarrassed to go through with it due to the fear of being judged by your family or friends, but it's worth it in the end.
There are many types of therapy you can try. One of them is cognitive behavioural therapy, which basically helps you learn how to "think" your way out of anxiety. Therapists usually push their clients to find ways to relax, practice realistic thinking, face fears and perform similar tasks. It's the "gentler" kind of therapy.
There's also something called exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, which is used to fight phobias. Therapists would usually ask their patients to perform a series of tasks that are directly related to the source of their fear. In the case of driving anxiety, this means sitting in the car, driving on a main street, entering the highway and so forth. The trick is to keep performing the tasks until they become routine and the anxiety is gone. This method may seem a little too harsh for some people since it asks you to face your fears directly.
Let's assume that psychotherapy is going a step too far for you -- even if it's likely to be the most effective method. The cheaper method involves taking care of yourself, which is almost the exact opposite of psychotherapy. Instead of facing your fears and dealing with them head-on, you get to take care of yourself through a healthy diet, exercising and spending quality time with family and friends. You may also consider these seven steps for ditching driving stress if you want to make your driving experience as pain-free as possible. Sure, this may sound corny, but making sure your body and mind get what they deserve can be extremely helpful when it comes to repairing your damaged psyche.
Aside from self-love, there is another self-healing method you can try -- taking driving courses. This actually works a little bit like therapy since you are essentially asking yourself to face one of your greatest fears, which is driving. By having your driving instructor walk you through driving procedures, you may gain a clearer sense of control and the environment around you whenever you drive. Plus, you may also feel like you've improved, which should boost your confidence and skill. But, regardless of anyone's mental condition, I would never discourage extra driving lessons!
If you don't want to do anything at all, but wish to defeat your anxiety anyway, you can always resort to medication. While this method is certainly effective, it's not necessarily the best. The main reason for that is the fact that medication often treats the symptoms, not the core problem. While I will not name any specific drugs here, you can learn about some of them in this article. Just remember - the only way to use anxiety medication is under the care of a doctor, so never try to pull this off on your own!
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