It’s estimated that 1.35m people are killed in traffic accidents every year. That’s nearly 3,700 every day. Despite the fact that vehophobia, an intense and irrational fear of driving, isn’t one of the most common phobias, the statistics above show that it affects a large number of people.
Here, we’ll answer the question: what is vehophobia, and we’ll look at how it compares to similar phobias. There will also be information on vehophobia’s causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Read on to learn more about the fear of driving or vehophobia.
Signs of a Fear of Vehicles
The physical symptoms of vehophobia, like those of any severe phobia, can have a crippling effect on your ability to go about your daily activities. Whenever someone with this condition attempts to drive, they experience an immediate stress responses that can include symptoms like:
- Anxiety about crashing a car.
- Panic attacks while driving
- Breathing in and out quickly and shallowly
- Increasing pulse rate
- Tense muscles
- Chest pain
- a stomachache
When symptoms worsen to the point of being incapacitating, some people decide not to drive at all. Those who have a fear of driving may prefer to stay at home or use a ridesharing service rather than risk their lives behind the wheel. In many cases, they’ll even fabricate a reason to stay home so they can avoid driving altogether.
After being involved in a car accident, some people develop a fear of driving altogether. For a car accident victim, they might also develop post traumatic stress disorder.
However their driving anxiety started, people with vehophobia need to learn to anticipate and recognise the symptoms associated with their driving phobia. Doing so can help them take proactive steps to overcome their fear of driving.
Vehophobia’s Root Causes
There are several causes of phobias in general, and when it comes to vehophobia, some are more common than others.
The following are possible causes of a fear of driving:
- Experiencing a life-threatening car accident firsthand or learning about one via the media or social media is one thing.
- Growing up with parents who were always anxious in the car
- Driving in dangerous conditions, such as intense rain, snow, or wind
- Being startled by a large animal darting in front of the vehicle
Any of the scenarios listed above could set off a panic attack in someone who suffers from vehophobia. They also might experience anxiety symptoms when they are:
- Around aggressive drivers
- In a lot of traffic
- Driving alone
- Afraid of being trapped
- Fearful of going too fast
- Afraid of losing one’s cool
- Afraid of dying or of fatalities
Vehophobia can strike even when everything outside of the vehicle is calm and normal.
Anxieties related to venom, amazin’, and hodophobia
It’s good to know the difference between vehophobia and some other very similar, specific phobias: amaxophobia and hodophobia. A fear of driving is often mistaken for either of these two phobias.
- Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in any vehicle. The fear of being trapped in a confined space is a common symptom of agoraphobia. While it doesn’t necessarily involve driving, the thought of being inside of a vehicle can be enough to elicit irrational fear and other stress responses.
- Hodophobia is an intense fear of travelling. This isn’t so much about being inside of a vehicle as it is about travelling itself. Hodophobia manifests uniquely in everyone. Some people might fear leaving their house to get to the mailbox, while others might be afraid of taking an ocean cruise to a different country. When it comes to travelling, it’s not uncommon for someone with hodophobia to be terrified of everything listed above.
How is a fear of vehicles identified?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are several criteria necessary for diagnosing a specific phobia like vehophobia, including:
- having a great deal of anxiety as soon as you encounter a new situation
- Feeling excessive, irrational anxiety in the face of a small but real threat
- enduring these signs and symptoms for a minimum of six months in a row
The nuances between vehophobia, amaxophobia, hodophobia, agoraphobia, and other types of specific phobias can be difficult to differentiate. It’s difficult to differentiate between so many symptoms that share similarities and overlap. The symptoms you’re experiencing and your medical, mental health, and social histories can be evaluated by a doctor or licenced psychologist to determine the type of phobia you’re experiencing.
Treatment of Fear of Vehicles
Treatment options for vehophobia include: Therapy, as with other phobias.
Most phobias, including a fear of driving, can be successfully treated with a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. Sessions will largely focus on learning new coping skills for dealing with irrational fears. With this course, you’ll learn how to spot and deal with anxiety symptoms as they arise. This can help put your fears in perspective and boost your self-esteem and ability to reason logically.
Joining a support group
Aside from seeking medical advice from therapists, online and in-person community support groups can help you overcome a debilitating phobia. The ability to rely on the understanding and encouragement of others can go a long way toward helping you overcome your apprehension about driving. Even though finding a group dedicated solely to vehophobia may be difficult, there are likely to be groups dedicated to phobias in general.
Hypnosis can help people with phobias explore and process their thoughts and feelings. A painful memory that may be the source of an irrational fear can be brought into proper perspective with the aid of this technique. You can overcome your fear of driving by using hypnotherapy to retrain your brain.
Taking a defensive driving course
Driving skills and self-confidence can be enhanced through the completion of a defensive driving course. Taking these classes will help you become a better driver by improving your reaction time and efficiency. Having a better understanding of what to expect when you’re behind the wheel can help alleviate some of your anxiety about it.
the use of prescription drugs
Prescription drugs can be useful for decreasing the effects of anxiety associated with vehophobia, but only in the short term. Symptoms can be masked by medications, but this can have long-term negative consequences. They have no effect on the root causes of the problem they’re supposed to address.
That said, sometimes medication can help manage symptoms, especially in the beginning of treatment. Some options a doctor or mental health professional might explore with you could include anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, or beta-blockers.
It’s possible to avoid driving altogether if you suffer from a fear of driving called vehophobia. However, the treatments we’ve discussed here are available to you, and they can put your fear into proper perspective while encouraging you to regain your confidence behind the wheel. Learning to overcome vehophobia will probably take some time, but it is possible with a good plan, diligence, and in-person or online therapy.
See your doctor or therapist if you or a loved one suffers from vehophobia, a fear of driving or being behind the wheel. They can refer you to the right mental health professional who can make an official diagnosis and help you come up with an effective treatment plan.
It’s natural to experience some setbacks during the road to recovery from vehophobia. Be patient and stay the course, and things will improve soon. Whether you want to learn more about your symptoms or connect with a licenced therapist, Talkspace has resources for every type of phobia. Reach out today to start overcoming your irrational fears.