Mitchell Lattof | November 12, 2020 | Car Accidents
There are millions of Americans on the road every day, but that doesn’t mean all of them are comfortable behind the wheel. Car accidents can be traumatizing to drivers of all ages, no matter the severity of the collision.
Whether you are driving at the time of the accident or witness a life-threatening incident, the experience can leave individuals with long-term anxiety and fear. Some may even develop symptoms of Vehophobia.
What is Vehophobia?
Vehophobia refers to the fear of driving and is prevalent in many individuals after experiencing a car accident. The condition is often considered to be a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is associated with traumatizing incidents. The more serious an automobile collision, the more likely it is that a driver will show signs of PTSD and vehophobia.
Vehicle operators are not the only ones who may show signs of vehophobia. It is possible to experience this fear if you witness a pedestrian accident, have a strict driving instructor, experience frequent road rage from other drivers, drive in dangerous conditions, or have family members who exhibit signs of vehophobia.
Many drivers experience symptoms of vehophobia at some point in their adult lives, particularly during rush hour traffic or dangerous weather conditions. However, those with full onset vehophobia also experience anxiety in perfectly safe driving conditions.
Some symptoms of vehophobia include:
- Panic attacks while driving
- Avoiding driving when possible
- Excessive fear of the road
- Nausea and shallow breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Tense muscles
- Trembling and sweating
Some of these symptoms may be recognizable to loved ones, while others may only be visible to the individual. Signs that you may be experiencing vehophobia include the fear that you may cause an accident, fear of operating a vehicle, or fear that you may harm or kill another person.
How is Vehophobia Treated?
Individuals approach their anxieties in different ways. For some suffering from vehophobia, the easiest solution is to stop driving. Some of these individuals may begin to use public transportation or rideshare services to avoid getting behind the wheel themselves. However, that may not be a long-term solution.
There are several other ways to confront your fear of driving and begin to recover from symptoms of vehophobia and PTSD.
While medication may help control anxiety symptoms in the short-term, it is not a long-term solution to vehophobia. In addition to seeing a doctor and inquiring about medicine to help manage overwhelming and debilitating symptoms of PTSD, it is critical for patients also to approach the underlying reasons for your fears.
Speak with a Mental Health Professional
Seeking guidance from a mental health professional can be one of the most effective ways to identify recovery methods. A licensed therapist can help guide you through anxiety and depression symptoms and help productively approach your trauma. Additionally, they may recommend forms of cognitive behavioral therapy to treat signs of PTSD.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy
One way to approach symptoms of PTSD is to safely revisit the traumatic memories with a mental health professional. Prolonged exposure therapy encourages patients to confront their anxieties and fears by reliving the experience. This practice can be done through memory recall or staged real-life exposures, such as being a passenger in a vehicle and then working their way up to driving on the highway again. With each step of the guided process, patients can regain their confidence and begin to find comfort in overcoming their fears.
In addition to working with a licensed therapist, support groups can offer a place to discuss your feelings and work through emotions with the help of others. Whether online or in-person, members of a support group can provide validation to your experiences and provide a safe space in which you can begin to heal. By processing traumatic experiences as a group, individuals can feel supported by others coping with the same fears and anxieties. Group therapy can be a source of hope for new patients as they can witness the program’s positive impact on others.
Defensive Driving Courses
After a severe car accident, a driver may doubt their ability to operate a vehicle. They may experience feelings of discomfort and begin to question their instinctual reactions behind the wheel. Defensive driving courses can be a source of confidence and rehabilitation for those who have vehophobia. Enrolling in a class will provide valuable tools for reacting efficiently and safely to changing road conditions.
Healing from Vehophobia
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of vehophobia, consult with a health professional to determine an appropriate treatment plan. If you are experiencing vehophobia from an accident that was not your fault, you may also consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. You may be entitled to financial and medical assistance.
Lattof & Lattof, P.C.
156 St Anthony St
Mobile, AL 36603