How To Manage Anxiety Attacks While Driving

How To Manage Anxiety Attacks While Driving

Anxiety attacks while driving are common and expected, but how do you manage anxiety attacks while driving?

One of the best ways to overcome a sudden anxiety attack while driving is to pull over and step out of the car safely.

If this is not an option, make sure you stop the car, breathe, and gain control over your feelings.

Every year, about two to three percent of adults and adolescents experience panic attacks, a form of anxiety.

If left unattended to and ignored, it can produce negative effects.

If people suffering from anxiety attacks get behind a wheel, there is always a spike in the phobia level of such persons. 

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So, What Are the Triggers of Anxiety Attacks While Driving?

This phobia is because of the idea of maneuvering from one point and driving through tunnels, bridges, and highways, which can bring discomfort and a strange fear of death.

Ignoring this and taking up the courage to try to drive can cause emotional distress or, even worst of all, accidents.

Currently, anxiety attacks while driving are common and ignored by people. They are unaware of the dangers such attacks could cause.

It is dangerous to suffer from panic attacks and not know how to manage or overcome them.

But before knowing how to overcome or manage anxiety attacks while driving, an understanding of the causes is expected.

Panic attacks usually involve symptoms that pause what you are doing for a while. It brings a feeling of separation from your physical environment.

The indications of anxiety can range from mild discomfort to a high level of distress.

What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks?

  • Nausea
  • Feeling shaky
  • Difficult breathing
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Dizziness or feeling unsteady
  • Restlessness
  • Losing control
  • Fear of death

These could be immediate or grow over a long period. 

These attacks keep you locked up at home from family, friends, and others.

How Long Do Anxiety Attacks While Driving Last?

There is no method to determine how long an attack could last. 

It could last from five to 30 minutes and continue for two to three hours or even longer.

However, suffering long anxiety attacks while driving is not normal. 

They come as a result of panic disorder.

Anxiety attacks are not restricted to a certain setting and can occur anywhere. 

Therefore, there is a need to know what causes panic attacks while driving. 

What Causes Anxiety Attacks While Driving?

Driving anxiety is difficult to be traced to a particular factor. The connection between stress and driving could be a valid reason why drivers get anxiety attacks.

In the same vein, the cause might not come from stress while driving. Moreover, some panic attacks happen for no reason at all.

Below are the most common causes of anxiety attacks while driving:

  • Stress: Imagine a person with a high-stress condition getting behind the wheel to drive. There is a great chance that such a person would encounter panic attacks while driving.
  • Anxiety: A high level of anxiety is mostly generated from either the environment or biological conditions. It is a probable cause of such panic attacks.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is a medical condition and is also hereditary. Most people who have panic disorder suffer from panic attacks even if it is not related to driving. Panic or anxiety attacks can occur while driving. It is occasionally predictable or expected, and sometimes not.
  • Recent Accident: If someone is a victim of a prior accident, even if not related to driving could trigger panic attacks.
  • Driving through a Tunnel or Bridge: Tunnels can make you feel trapped, while bridges can bring the terror of driving over. Driving through a tunnel or bridge can activate phobic feelings, which are the source of anxiety.
  • Highway Driving: Faster speed, more distractions, more cars, and traffic are the necessary experience in highway driving.

First-timers who are new to this ordeal will find it overwhelming.

These are only a few of the many causes of anxiety attacks while driving.

Let's now understand how to manage or overcome these driving anxiety attacks.

5 Tips On How To Overcome Anxiety Attacks

These are a few tips on how to manage anxiety while driving here:

1. Spot the Panic

Panic attacks can stem from different sources.

They can all seem similar but are distinct and different. Therefore, they need to be addressed with distinctive methods.

Getting to know the source of the panic attack will save you time and energy. 

2. Stop the Car 

In the middle of a panic attack, the first advised step is to pull over. A panic attack impairs the coordination of the brain, which creates a challenge, thereby making driving risky.

Check the environment and find a safe place to pull over. 

3. Panic Doesn't Equal Danger 

The fear that accompanies a panic attack can be so fierce that you become convinced of the fear of death, losing control, and accident. That phobia is false because anxiety attacks while driving do not create real danger.

However, behaving like a panic attack is dangerous could lead one to drive roughly and put themselves and others in peril. 

4. Adopting Coping Skills 

Different thoughts of fear race through your mind while experiencing a panic attack when driving in various negative ways.

One way to counteract this is by employing a method of controlling your thoughts by saying positive words to yourself. These words focus on calmness, peace, and confidence rather than fear and anxiety.

Avoid words that encourage frustration judgment because they won't help the situation. Instead, replace them with words of understanding and acceptance. 

5. Avoid drugs

People tend to go for negative options while experiencing panic attacks and after such attacks, which are not advisable.

Self-prescribed drugs may improve symptoms at that moment, but they also create the worst problems in the future. 


Many people constantly feel anxiety while driving without seeking help.

If you always have extreme fear and other symptoms, you may have a panic attack.

Staying without treatment can nurture panic attacks and make them perpetual.

Instead, therapy can help prevent anxiety attacks while driving and develop coping skills for survival.


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June 3rd, 2023

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