Panic Attacks
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Tips to Cope With Panic Attacks While Driving

Victoria LeBlanc, MS, LCPC
Tips to Cope With Panic Attacks While Driving

Driving a car is considered a normal part of being an adult. Driving a car is also inherently stressful. Many people tense up at points during their drive - especially while on the freeway - but tensing up becomes so natural that they may not even realize they're doing it.

Combine that with the natural feeling of being unable to escape if something went wrong, and it's no wonder that so many people have panic attacks while driving.

Driving Fears are Normal

A basic fear of driving is not too much of a problem. In fact, a little bit of anxiety may actually be healthy. It will keep you alert and focused on what's around you, improving your ability to stay safe.

But panic attacks while driving can be terrifying. Panic attack symptoms can overwhelm the senses and actually make it more difficult to drive. 

Why Panic Attacks Are Common in the Car

Panic attacks while driving are very common. You should note that even though panic attacks can be a bit overwhelming, you should still generally be safe. If you're concerned, pulling over to the side of the road until the panic attack is over may be a good idea.

There are several different factors that can contribute to driving panic attacks. These include:

The latter point is often a big problem for those with panic attacks. As soon as you've had an attack in the car, even if it's unrelated to being in the car, the attack will often become associated in your mind with the anxiety of driving, and future attacks may become more common.

How to Control Panic Attacks While Driving

Driving panic attacks are obviously very difficult to live with. You drive everywhere, and if you're also dealing with severe panic attacks, then you're going to be extremely scared while on the road.

The key to preventing these car attacks is to learn to prevent all panic attacks. It's hard to cure panic attacks in only one location since panic attacks can occur anywhere, and any time you have a panic attack you put yourself at risk for associating the attack with the location and having these attacks more often. You can, however, try the following:

None of these are going to act as a rapid cure for anxiety, nor are they going to provide you with a way to prevent all of your anxiety and panic attacks. But they may reduce either the frequency or severity of your anxiety attacks while driving so that hopefully you'll find it easier to be on the road.

Ultimately, the solution is going to be learning how to manage your anxiety. Only then will you give yourself the best opportunity to prevent any and all panic attacks while in the car.

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