It’s Mental Illness Awareness week for our cousins over the pond, so we’re going to take a moment to talk about driving anxiety.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have been involved in a car accident, then you may well understand how driving again can be difficult. Just getting back behind the wheel is enough to trigger driving anxiety symptoms for some.
It is estimated that over a million people sustain injuries due to road traffic accidents every year. Although not everyone suffers from driving anxiety after a collision, even if only a small percentage of people are apprehensive, then it still makes for a lot of people. Here are the seven most common symptoms of driving anxiety.
Heart palpitations are probably the most common of all anxiety symptoms. When you begin to feel anxious, your heart begins to race, and it can be quite terrifying. If you’ve been traumatised by a car accident, then you may well experience heart palpitations when you get into a car, or even when you think about driving. Such symptoms can also be brought on when seeing someone driving in person or on TV.
When you’re anxious, you also perspire more. When your heart is beating harder and faster than normal, you begin to enter “fight or flight” mode, which can increase the overall temperature of your body. This in turn can Caused increased perspiration. Many people who have been traumatised by a car accident will notice that their palms become sweaty or clammy when they next get behind the wheel.
Another common symptom of driving anxiety is becoming confused or disorientated. When someone is suffering from driving anxiety they could well forget where they are or where they intend on going to. They can also be very easily distracted when behind the wheel. This can be very dangerous as it affects people’s ability to remain alert behind the wheel and therefore avoid future accidents or collisions.
Shortness of Breath
When your heart rate increases, then in most cases your rate of breathing increases too. In many cases you will breathe at a much more rapid rate than normal, but sometimes your breaths can also become shallower. If these symptoms become too sever then it is possible to begin hyperventilating.
Often, a shortness of breath is accompanied by dizziness. This is because your brain is not getting adequate oxygen if you’re not breathing deeply enough, so you could start to feel lightheaded, or as though everything around you is starting to spin.
Sometimes the symptoms of driving anxiety are not even physical. It is not uncommon for car accident victims to suffer from feelings of dread or other negative emotions when they get back behind the wheel. People in such a position have noticed that their entire mood has changed in a negative way for as long as a day before next getting into a car.
For some people, they are so anxious about getting in a car again that they will just try and avoid it completely, at all costs. People who are suffering from this may well point-blank refuse to drive somewhere. Instead, preferring to walk or be driven by someone else.
Those who can drive again can still suffer other illogical symptoms of avoidant behaviour. For example they can avoid motorways or drive very slowly as they feel it will decrease the chances of them being involved in another accident.