- Do you fear driving on expressways?
- Do you avoid driving on certain roads?
- Do you constantly worry that you will have an accident when you’re in the car?
- Do you experience panic attacks when driving?
- Do you worry about large trucks, construction zones, or tunnels when you’re behind the wheel?
A driving phobia is defined as experiencing intense fear or anxiety about driving. Even thinking about driving a car can invoke worry and panic-like feelings. Anticipatory anxiety is common when you feel anxious just thinking about driving. Thinking about a specific driving situation can cause significant distress. Both the anticipation of a dangerous event and the unpleasantness of the anxiety induced by driving are primary concerns.
Fortunately, driving phobias are treatable. Dr. Mazzei has years of experience helping individuals overcome phobias. She will work with you to identify how your phobia started and how best to treat it using evidence-based psychotherapy techniques.
Signs of driving anxiety include:
- Feeling irritable or restless when driving or when anticipating driving
- Feeling tired or worn out when you get out of the car
- Having trouble concentrating while behind the wheel
- Experiencing physical tension, such as in the neck or shoulders, when driving
- Avoiding driving or certain driving situations, such as the highway
Signs and symptoms of a driving panic attack include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Difficulty breathing or hyperventilating
- Chest tightness
- GI upset
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling disconnected from your body
- Fear of dying or losing control
How Did My Phobia Start?
Phobias may develop for numerous reasons. Your personal life experiences and physiological make-up influence how phobias start.
- Phobias may trigger as a result of a negatively experienced event that happened in the past. You may have endured a disturbing driving incident that triggered fear or heightened anxiety. These memories were stored in your brain, along with the associated feelings. Whenever a similar stimulus, such as driving on the highway, occurs the same emotions arise. This is referred to as a conditioned response.
- Driving phobias can develop after a traumatic event, such as a family member dying from a tragic car accident.
- Family stress or other trauma in one’s life can trigger a phobia.
- Having an anxiety disorder, such as agoraphobia or panic disorder, can contribute to the development of a phobia.
How is Driving Phobia Treated?
Fortunately, psychological counseling has been shown to effectively treat driving fear. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used therapies to address phobias. CBT focuses on changing one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to target positive change. CBT encompasses techniques designed specifically for phobias, including in vivo and imaginal exposure.
In vivo exposure refers to directly facing a driving situation once you’ve mastered certain skills, such as relaxation training and thought changing. The goal is that you become calmer and relaxed once you are continually exposed to the event that triggered the fear. Imaginal exposure allows you to use your imagination to help you work through the anxiety triggered by driving fear. Along with Dr. Mazzei, a CBT specialist, you will create a hierarchy of driving situations from the least to most anxiety provoking. Typically, imaginal exposure is used first followed by in vivo exposure. Dr. Mazzei and you will work together to engage you in different situations, keeping you calm and in control.
Biofeedback and EMDR Therapies
As part of CBT treatment, you will learn relaxation techniques to help keep you calm while you are driving. Heart rate variability training (HRV) using biofeedback is an effective way to train your body’s automatic nervous system. You will learn how to master voluntary control over your breathing, respiration, and heart rate.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another therapy that resolves any traumatic memories that may be at the root cause of your driving phobia. With these combined therapies, you free yourself from the past and gain the skills you need to confidently get behind the wheel.
Hypnosis for Driving Phobia
Hypnosis involves entering a trance-like state to induce positive emotional and behavioral change. Hypnotherapy has been successfully used to treat driving fears. Guided by Dr. Mazzei, a certified hypnotherapist, you will enter a frame of mind in which you are given suggestions. These suggestions are tailored based on your specific needs, such as eliminating the fear of driving. You will likely feel especially relaxed when doing hypnosis. In this state, your mind is typically more open to change.
Driving Phobia Treatment
As a psychologist and phobia specialist, Dr. Mazzei has helped many people overcome their driving phobia. She integrates proven psychological therapies into treatment while focusing on giving you emotional support. She utilizes CBT, hypnosis, biofeedback, and EMDR therapy to provide the most effective therapy for you. If you are looking to start driving with confidence again, Dr. Mazzei is here for you.
How We Can Help
If you are suffering from a driving phobia, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how Dr. Mazzei can help you, follow these simple steps:
- Text today at (480) 448-6755 or email us for a free consultation
- Or, you can book directly online with Dr. Mazzei
- Begin your journey towards a fulfilling and healthier life
Dr. Mazzei offers both in-person driving phobia treatment in Chandler, AZ, and online therapy for residents of Arizona, Illinois, and Nevada.