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Fear of Driving Checker

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Your Fear of Driving May Also be Known as:
Scared of driving

Fear of Driving Symptoms

Getting behind the wheel for the first time can be exciting for many people, but for others driving can be a serious source of anxiety. While driving can, be risky, serious fear of driving can be life altering – particularly in areas with limited options for public transportation. Symptoms that anxious drivers experience may include some of the following:

Fear of Driving Causes Overview

For some people, fear of driving, or driving phobia, may strike the first time they hit the road. The fear may stem from lack of experience, problems with equipment or an underlying medical condition. Other people may be calm drivers in their younger years but experience more anxiety later on in life, perhaps because of a negative driving experience or some other cause. A change in location or traffic conditions can also trigger anxiety for a period of time. Some common causes of fear of driving are listed below, divided by category:

Non-medical fear of driving causes

  • Inexperience. Like any skill, driving takes practice. New drivers are not accustomed to judging speeds and distances and may also struggle to learn directions when they first hit the road.
  • Inadequate training. Learning how to drive safely requires an experienced coach, whether that person is a trusted friend or a trained instructor. The training requirements in many states can be inadequate, especially for anxious drivers.
  • Difficult road conditions. Heavy traffic or bad weather can make even the most experienced drivers nervous and can worsen underlying anxiety in people who do not like to drive.
  • Faulty equipment. Malfunctioning safety or navigation equipment can make a treacherous drive even more difficult.

Psychiatric conditions

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder. Previous negative experiences, whether or not related to driving, can make people more vulnerable to anxiety in challenging situations.
  • Phobia. Even those without underlying anxiety problems can develop a specific phobia (or fear) of driving.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. This disorder causes people to feel anxious in multiple aspects of their lives, such as in personal and professional tasks.

Medical conditions

  • Cognitive impairment. New or increased anxiety while driving in an older person may be a sign of confusion or cognitive problems, such as dementia, that may impair memory or ability to judge spaces and distances.
  • Vision problems. An older person with increasing anxiety and difficulty driving may have worsening vision because of cataracts or another cause

Top 8 Fear of Driving Causes

  1. 1.Graves' Disease

    The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck that is responsible for making thyroid hormones. These hormones control important body functions, such as heart rate and the rate at which the body turns food into energy. In Grave's disease, the immune system malfunctions and drives the thyroid to produce excessive amounts of hormones, leading to symptoms such as trouble sleeping, irritability and nervousness, heat sensitivity, hand tremors, and weight loss.

    You should visit your primary care physician to get your blood tested. Grave's disease is a complex condition that is managed with prescription antithyroid medications, as well as surgery in rare cases.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Overactive Thyroid

    The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of your endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid glands control how fast one burns calories and how fast the heart beats. If the thyroid is too active, it makes more thyroid hormones than the body needs. This is called hyperthyroidism.

    You should visit your primary care physician, who might take a blood test to measure your levels of thyroid hormone. The test will tell the doctor whether a referral to an endocrinologist is useful. Treatment plans would likely be set by the specialist and include drugs to reduce your thyroid activation.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability, trouble sleeping
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Chronic Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

    Chronic carbon monoxide poisoning is the slow but persistent exposure to carbon dioxide, typically where one lives or works. This can cause chronic headache, nausea, vomiting, etc.

    You should visit your primary care physician within the next 48 hours, who can make a diagnosis based on clinical suspicion and a blood test. Treatment would be to move away from the source of the carbon monoxide!

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, irritability, nausea, difficulty concentrating
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.

    Fibromyalgia is treated symptomatically. Medication, therapy, and stress reduction may reduce symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    hidden: arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Fear of Driving Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having fear of driving.

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  5. 5.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    You should visit your primary care physician. Hypothyroidism is a complex condition that is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Copd)

    COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a chronic condition of the lungs and the airways in the lungs. Damage has occured due to long-term exposure to substances that irritate and damage the lungs, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution. This damage can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, decreased exercise tolerance and cough. A common cold or other types of infection can cause symptoms to worden acutely, this is called an exacerbation.

    Though there is no medication for COPD that has demonstrated the ability to reverse the decreasing long-term lung function associated with the disease, your doctor will be able to provide you with next steps for managing the disease. Some possible next steps include cessation of smoking, pulmonary rehabilitation and inhalation medication.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, anxiety
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    hidden: any cardinal symptom copd
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (copd):
    rectal bleeding
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    You should visit your primary care physician to further discuss your symptoms. It is likely you will be referred to a mental health professional. Your doctor will likely recommend talk therapy and/or antidepressant medication.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, nausea, general anxiety (stress)
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Supraventricular Tachycardia

    Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a form of arrhythmia that causes the heart to beat too quickly and begins in the heart's upper chambers. The most common symptoms include a racing heart, lightheadedness and palpitations.

    You should visit a physician today to get an EKG to confirm this diagnosis.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, shortness of breath, racing heart beat, lightheadedness, deep chest pain, behind the breast bone
    Symptoms that always occur with supraventricular tachycardia:
    abnormally high heartrate
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

Fear of Driving Treatments and Relief

Overcoming a fear is often a challenging and lengthy process that requires continued emotional support. Some people may find that certain behavior changes alleviate their worry, while others may choose to seek professional support from a counselor or other mental health provider. It may also help to seek out others with similar fears to share calming techniques and other strategies.

Behavior changes

  • Practice. As with many skills, practice can go a long way in improving a driver's comfort on the road. Don't underestimate how long it can take to gain the necessary experience.
  • Drive with an experienced companion. Take a friend or family member on the road with you and ask for some calm, directed advice on how to improve your driving skills.
  • Study your route. Don't waste attention or energy on the road trying to read directions or fumble with a GPS. Take a few minutes before your journey to familiarize yourself with where you're headed.
  • Drive during daylight hours. Nighttime driving can be much more challenging, so take the darkness out of the equation and start with limiting driving time to when the sun is out.
  • Avoid rush hour. If possible, avoid peak travel times when roads are clogged and drivers tend to be angrier and more aggressive.
  • Avoid highways. Try sticking to lower speed roads with more frequent stops, even if that means budgeting more time for your journey.
  • Pull over if necessary. There's nothing wrong with deciding that you need a break for a few minutes. Find a safe place to pull off the road and take a breather.
  • Driving school. Many people find professional instruction to be invaluable in improving driving skills and alleviating fear of driving, Old and new drivers alike can benefit from a few instructor-led driving sessions.

Psychiatric fear of driving treatment

  • Exposure therapy. A trained mental health professional may help you face your fear in small, controlled increments.
  • Psychotherapy. Therapy sessions help determine the underlying cause of your fear of driving and allow for more targeted treatments.
  • Anxiety medication. Sometimes a doctor may decide to prescribe anti-anxiety medication. Depending on the type, it may be taken as needed or on a daily basis to calm your nerves. Many anxiety medications are not permitted to be used while driving – so specifically discuss the causes of your anxiety with your physician.

Medical fear of driving treatment

  • Vision examination. An eye doctor can determine if vision impairment is making it difficult to drive.
  • Cognitive testing. A primary care doctor or neurologist can perform tests to measure thinking and reasoning in patients with new anxiety and difficulty driving.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Fear of Driving

  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Are you feeling irritable (easily made upset)?
  • Q.Do you have trouble sleeping?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our fear of driving symptom checker.

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Fear of Driving Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced fear of driving have also experienced:

    • 9% Agoraphobia
    • 4% Inability to Recognize Shapes and Smells
    • 4% Feeling of Being Smothered
  • People who have experienced fear of driving had symptoms persist for:

    • 53% Over a Month
    • 22% Less Than a Day
    • 11% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced fear of driving were most often matched with:

    • 28% Graves' Disease
    • 28% Overactive Thyroid
    • 14% Chronic Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Fear of Driving Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having fear of driving.

Take a quiz