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Panic Disorders Message Board

problems with cars

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Old 09-17-2004, 06:02 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: melbourne, vic, aust
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hry33 HB Userhry33 HB User
problems with cars

Car Problems are common for panic attack and agoraphobia sufferers.

Some cant drive at all but are very nervous passengers, some are calmer when driving as they
feel in control. Fear of having a panic attack and crashing the car is common but this never
seems to happen.Sufferers generally are good and safe car drivers. Some can and do only
drive when self medicated with huge doses of alcahol and/or valium type meds, which of
course isnt recommended. Stop if severely derealised or the tension is effecting your muscles

when anxious, distraction techniques help such as tensing and relaxing your grip on the
wheel, singing along with music from the car radio and of course the much recommended deep
slow breathing. It also helps to not tenes up or fight back against the anxiety. The air
conditioner can be used to cool off.

A dreaded long journey can be broken into say 15 minute sections, with a commitment to drive
only 15 minutes, then stop and rest, many prefer to get out and walk around a while, then
decide whether to return home or to drive on for another 15 minutes. The journey usually gets
completed but seems less frightening and overwhelming if approached this way. Freeways
are challenging with a feeling of being trapped with no easy escape, if a passenger, there
should be an agreement that the driver will stop immediately if the passanger asks. A sufferer
will usually calm down quickly if allowed to get out of the car and walk around for a few
minutes. If driving on a freeway, a good excuse to stop is to check the tyres. Passengers usually feel safer in the back seat
Freeways can
be avoided if possible as we dont need to be perfect all the time.

Traffic lights are often a problem with severe anxiety from being stopped or detained and
therefore not in control, some sufferers will avoid intersections with slow lights. A sufferer
couldnt bear waiting any longer and drove off thru a red light despite knowing a police car was

The car is important to many sufferers as they can drive along streets they are too anxious to
walk along. The car becomes a mobile place of safety that they can retreat to if overcome by
anxiety or panic. Some can only shop if the car is in sight nearby, some need to be able to see
the car outside thru the shop window.One sufferer hired a taxi to follow her around a shopping
centre as the sight of it was reassuring, she could get in if overcome with a panic attack. Some
who are self conscious have a van with no windows nearby when out as their place of retreat.

Fear of anxiety problems can cause a panic attack if looking at the car or thinking of a car
journey in severe cases, Any comments??

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Old 09-18-2004, 09:16 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 10
Silverlining HB User
Re: problems with cars

I can relate. Had a lot of trouble being a passenger - HAD to be the driver. Part of the whole not-wanting-to-lose-control feeling that would set off a panic attack.

Elevators were also a problem for me. With the help of therapy and an AD, it's getting much better.

I've found breathing and singing with the radio helpful. I also have a song I play in my head that I like and that gives me a good mental image, to help me when I feel like I'm getting anxious.

Old 09-18-2004, 09:33 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 97
phoebe20 HB User
Re: problems with cars

I hate cars. My first panic attack happened because my friend was sick in the back of one! If the car is a 3 door, I can't sit in the back because there isn't a door for me to get out of and I start to panic. I hate motorways as well because there are sometimes long stretches without a junction or a services, which makes me feel isolated and like I don't have an escape route. Although goodness only knows what I actually want to escape from! lol

I also loathe elevators. I would not go in one if you paid me!

I haven't really found much relief from these problems. I find sitting in the front of the car with the window open helps. Listening to music and singing is also good. And regular stops are a must.

Last edited by phoebe20; 09-18-2004 at 09:34 AM.

Old 09-18-2004, 04:19 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12
wilkb7 HB User
Re: problems with cars

I go through spurts of having problems driving. I'm a bit of a nervous passenger, but I'd rather be a passenger than the driver these days. I never know when one of these attacks is going to happen, it's driving me crazy. I avoid the freeway almost all the time, I'm much more comfortable on streets that I feel I can pull over at any time and be okay. Sometimes the air conditioner blowing in my face, singing to the radio, or talking to myself and telling myself how stupid this is helps. I had a problem driving today with my daughter and granddaugter in the car. I pulled over and made my daughter drive. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist, all came back fine, no heart problems. I've been taking lexapro and wellbutrin for over a year, at first I thought it was helping, but I'm not so sure it is. My husband and my parents know about my "problem", but haven't said anything to my kids. I hate this big time. I feel like I'm being deprived of my freedom to come and go as I please.

Old 09-18-2004, 06:11 PM   #5
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Location: melbourne, vic, aust
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hry33 HB Userhry33 HB User
Re: problems with cars

to wilkb
your meds dose may need upping but sometimes they dont work at any dose

Old 09-19-2004, 09:18 AM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 314
junglemonkey HB User
Re: problems with cars

I LOVE to drive. It completely relaxes me. I can have the biggest anxiety-induced stomach ache and go out for a drive and I'm fine when I get back. However, I have problems with waiting. Like if I have to wait at a junction or traffic lights I get really anxious and panicky because I don't know when they'll change, if I'm going to go too slow for those behind me, if I stall and other drivers get annoyed. I especially freak out at junctions and traffic lights on hills... Those are my worst nightmare because I am terrified I roll back and hit the car behind me. But in general I love to drive, much to the surprise of myself, my family and my ex-therapist, lol.
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell.

Old 09-19-2004, 10:57 AM   #7
Anxious Annie
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 113
Anxious Annie HB User
Re: problems with cars

I had an episode several summers ago while on vacation and at the mercy of the person who was serving as my host. Her driving made me crazy. At one point when the car finally stopped at a sporting goods store she wanted to go to, I got out and acted like I was trying a sweater on only to go into the fitting room and lay down!

Unfortunately, now I have to take the bus to work and some days I just can't do it (even if it costs $200 a month to park). I get very car sick and HATE absolutely HATE if anyone sits so close to me as to box me in or practically sit on top of me. I have even changed my schedule at work so that I am not in rush hour traffic and have more of a chance of having a seat to myself.

It's hard. I have my good and bad days. Can totally relate!

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