Fear of driving: how do I know if I have a phobia?

Fear of driving is a relatively common occurrence in all kinds of people of age to handle these vehicles, and that in itself is not something that should be a problem in all cases. Sometimes nothing happens to suffer from this kind of discomfort just because you don’t have the urge or the need to drive, and it can also happen that this fear is easy to overcome in a few hours or a few days, and that it does not interfere. conduct.

However, there are cases where the anxiety caused by driving can lead to many problems, to the point where it is a factor that affects a person’s quality of life.

In these cases, we are talking about amaxophobia or driving phobia. But … How to recognize the border which separates the simply unpleasant or uncomfortable, on the one hand, and the pathological, on the other hand?

    The keys to recognizing the phobia of driving

    It is estimated that around 20% of drivers suffer from some level of anxiety while driving. However, in most cases, we cannot speak of a phobia. To a certain extent, this is to be expected: the high speeds we experience in one of these vehicles, combined with the realization that within seconds we could cause accidents, they can be interpreted as a source of constant danger.

    And at the end of the day, natural evolution hasn’t shaped our brains so it’s very good for us to move so fast; it takes months of practice just to start doing it without serious danger, and even with a permit accidents are common (very rarely will we see birds colliding with natural elements of their surroundings in flight, for example) .

    Normally we come to a point where we learn to drive well with any car, motorcycle or vehicle. But just as we can learn to stop being afraid to drive, we can also learn to win (Unintentionally, of course). And sometimes this fear is so intense that it ceases to be fear and becomes psychopathology.

    Thus, phobias are a mixture of biological predispositions (the fact that we can feel anxiety allows us to react in time to dangers) and learning (we can associate any emotion with any stimulus).

    However, it is not always easy to fully understand the type of emotions we experience and whether what is happening to us is a psychological disorder or not. Although diagnoses are ultimately made by mental health professionals, it is important to know certain keys to detecting the signs and symptoms of psychopathologies. And in the case of driving phobia, the key ideas that help to know whether one has it or not are as follows (they don’t have to all occur in one person).

    1. While driving or trying, we feel that we are losing control of the body.

    The feeling of losing self-control is typical of phobias of any kind. There are also tremors and respiratory restlessness.

      2. The Simple Idea of ​​Driving Produces Anxiety

      Where there is a phobia of driving, closing our eyes and imagining that we are driving dramatically increases our anxiety levels.

      3. We are looking for excuses not to drive

      Those who do not drive for economic, ecological or logistical reasons (eg lack of parking) do not look for excuses not to choose cars and motorcycles as their means of transport. But those who suffer from driving phobia tend to lie or hide their main motive.

      4. Catastrophic thoughts appear when you are driving or going to drive

      As with all phobias, the phobic stimulus gives rise to pessimistic predictions sidewalk of what’s going to happen in the next few minutes.

      5. We are concerned that in emergency situations we are forced to drive

      Those who also suffer from driving phobia occasionally feel anxious about the circumstances in which they have to drive for an emergency or for something a family member or friend needs.

      Are you interested in psychotherapeutic support?

      If you are considering starting a psychotherapy process to overcome a phobia, a source of stress, or any other type of emotional or behavioral discomfort, contact our team of professionals. Fr Cepsim Psychological Center We have been serving adults, children and adolescents for years and offer our services in person, at our centers located in Madrid, and online via video calls.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Barp, M. and Mahl, AC (2013). Amaxophobia: a study of the causes of fear of driving. UNOESC and science – ACBS, 4: pp. 39-48.
      • Clapp, JD; et al. (2011). The survey on driving behavior: construction and validation of scales. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 25 (1): pages 96-105.
      • Hickling, EJ; Blanchard, EB (1992). Post-traumatic stress disorder and traffic accidents. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 6 (3): pages 285 to 291.
      • Sáiz Vicente, I., Bañuls Egeda, R. and Monteagudo Soto, MJ (1997). Explore anxiety in novice and professional drivers. Annals of Psychology, 13 (1): p. 65 – 75.
      • Taylor, Joanne; Deane, Frank; Podd, John (June 2002). “Fear of Driving: A Review”. Journal of clinical psychology. 22 (5): pages 631 to 645.

      Leave a Comment