Driving Fear and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Readers’ Questions Answered)

Heather wrote:

Hello! I`ve stopped my entire life because of this fear. I’m 33 years old and now I’ve finally sucked it up and went in for my beginner’s permit. I feel foolish, stunted, and emotionally immature. I do suffer from general anxiety disorder, so this is going to be a major milestone for me…But the fact that my actual driving skills are okay is what keeps me going forward.

Amanda wrote:

Hello, I’m Amanda. I suffer from Depression, Bipolar, and Anxiety. I got my driver’s license in 2008. I used to love driving. I was a great driver. Then all of a sudden I started to feel unsafe behind the wheel. I am now afraid to even think of driving. I try to do little things like, drive around my trailer park, or park the car, but I just have these terrible anxiety attacks to the point that I start to cry. I want to try driving again. But I just can’t bring myself to get behind the wheel. I’ve had one close encounter with another car, but no accidents. I was a very careful driver. I passed my drivers lesson on the first try. I loved driving. I loved the freedom. Then it just stopped. I just don’t feel safe driving a vehicle. I want to start driving again, but every time I think about driving… I just can’t.

wole wrote:

I am not a new driver but, just of recent, I developed fear and anxiety in driving my car. It seems the car will always tumble any time I am driving it. I am really troubled in mind on how to overcome this fear. In fact I like driving a lot.

Our Answer:

It’s not uncommon to hear from people who have been able to drive without fear in the past but suddenly develop anxiety related to driving.

Steering Wheel

If you look more deeply into your life, you will probably find that the anxiety is not only about driving, but is more general in nature. This is known as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

If your fear of driving is related to problems with anxiety in general, then the way to get over it is by reducing your overall anxiety. Luckily there are many ways to do this.

The first and most obvious way to deal with generalized anxiety is to learn to relax. You can practice breathing, yoga or meditation or do whatever makes you feel good and calm.

If your anxiety is more complicated, you might need to find a professional counselor who can help you understand the thought patterns that trigger your anxiety.

Anxiety is almost always related to the way we think about things, so in the case of driving fear, it may be that you can manage your fear by changing the way you think about driving.

For example, if you have the thought, “My car is going to tumble” every time you get into your car, ask yourself how realistic this thought may be.Think of the hundreds, if not thousands of people that you are acquainted with. How many of them have been in a car that tumbled over while they were driving it?

Even if the answer is one or two, those are still incredibly small odds. This is just one simple example of how to work with your thoughts to lower the intensity of your anxiety.

You may also find that managing thoughts about other aspects of your life helps to reduce your fear of driving by giving you more confidence overall.

Also realize that anxiety is also a physical response, so learning to be more relaxed goes hand in hand with learning to change your thoughts and calm your mind.

For more ideas about managing driving fear and generalized anxiety disorder, read the article on reducing anxiety naturally.