Driving on any road takes considerable skill. All of your senses are at play, and one improper move might spell disaster. With these facts in mind, many people end up with a phobia when it comes to driving on the highway. Explore the common causes for this fear and how to overcome the anxiety.
1. Psychological Component
When anyone deals with a driving phobia, psychiatrists look deeper into the mindset than just the road itself. Most drivers aren’t directly concerned about the fast cars and potential accidents. The deep-seated fear is of being trapped.
Highways have fewer off and on-ramps than standard streets and intersections. People with highway phobias have an overwhelming sensation of being trapped in the lanes. There is no escape from the space.
People must internalize this concept before they can face their fear. Knowing that control and feeling trapped are the main issues can put them on a road to recovery.
2. Ensuing Panic or Anxiety
As an untreated person heads out onto the highway, that trapped sensation builds. People ruminate on this issue as they drive. As a result, the mind ends up in a panic or anxiety mode. Sweat starts to break out on the skin, the breathing becomes labored and the heart races.
Accidents can occur if a person continues down this anxiety pathway. Because those negative thoughts seem to be coming true during a panic attack, people simply stay away from these situations. Facing their fears, however, is the only way to overcome them.
3. Focusing on the “Outs”
One of the most basic ways to deal with a fear of driving is focusing on the “outs.” Every highway has an emergency shoulder and regular off-ramps. There are junctions with other roadways as well. A phobic person must concentrate on the fact that he or she isn’t trapped. These areas are safe spaces to pull over.
When this fear is treated with logical evaluations of the surrounding space, the phobia might dissipate. It may take a long time to deal with issues in this manner, however. There’s another answer in “Exposure Therapy”.
4. Discovering Exposure Therapy as a Solution
The basic premise of Exposure Therapy is knowing that you’re in control. A driver must simply maneuver across the highway to reach a destination. You control the car, its direction and speed.
Exposure Therapy starts out slow, such as asking a patient to drive a few feet in a driveway. Through progressive sessions, the person eventually drives onto a highway for a few miles at a time. Exposing the person to the fact that they are in control of the situation can ward off the phobia. It takes dedication and time to successfully complete this treatment.
For severe phobias, driving on the highway may be a work in progress. Don’t give up on your treatment because overcoming the fear is possible. It simply takes initiative and willpower to fight it off. You’ll be cruising down the road in no time with proper treatment.