PreventPanicAttacks.org – Dealing With Anxiety

How to Prevent Panic Attacks while Driving

Are you struggling with fears, worries and panics while driving? Its certainly an unpleasant feeling that can often occur on the highway which can be dangerous. As you reach through, you will learn how to stop a panic attack while driving in 5 steps.

A panic attack can be defined as a sudden rush of intense symptoms, (both physical and psychological) that peak in intensity as they emerge. It usually lasts for 5 to 20 minutes, and then rapidly fades away. One feels like they are in dire problems and overwhelming fear grips them. There is also a feeling of being detached from the world around you. These attacks occur at random or even after exposure to events that trigger the attack. It is important to note that panic attacks are not dangerous, and should not result in any physical harm, however, they can become more frequent and more severe if not treated.

Physiological symptoms of Panic attacks

  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in the chest
  • Trembling
  • A sensation of chocking
  • Feeling sickly
  • A sensation of irregular heartbeat

These symptoms result from the fact that your body goes into either “fight’ or “flight” mode as it tries to respond to a potential threat. Your breathing is quickened as the body tries to take in more oxygen, while production of hormones like adrenaline is what causes a faster heartbeat and muscular tension.

Causes of panic attacks while driving

Panic attacks are very common when driving. But what causes them?

Stress

When you are stressed, you are more likely to get an attack. Being stressed on the road is normal, as there are very many factors that are dangerous, including bad drivers. This kind of stress keeps you safe, because you are very much aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, it also triggers attacks.

Thinking about having a panic attack

If you think about a panic attack when driving, you are more likely to experience one. Fear and worries only brings on more fears and worries.

Hyperventilation

There are a number of factors that lead to driving hyperventilation, ranging from your sitting posture, fear, to your seat belt.

Sitting Pains

Driving causes some sensations and pains that could trigger an attack. If you experience panic attacks, your body tends to be oversensitive. An increased heart rate or weakness in the legs, are some of the changes in the body that could trigger an attack.

Triggers

If you have ever had an attack in your car, even if you were not the one who was driving, you could experience another one, as your brain will associate the car with the attack, thus pose the environment as dangerous.

Overcoming Panic Attacks While Driving

It can be very devastating to experience a panic attack while driving. The good news is that it is possible to stop it. Here is how:

  1. Drive with Distractions: Distractions like music, podcasts, and talk shows will go a long way in stopping the attack. Podcasts and radio shows are especially better as they will give you something to think about. You will focus less on the attack and the symptoms that come with it.
  2. Keep Driving: If the attack is not very severe, keep driving. This way, you face your fear. If you keep avoiding driving when you have a panic attack, you will be more likely to experience an attack the day you will hit the road, and it could be very severe. If you feel too dizzy during an attack, driving on is definitely not a good idea. Pulling over to the side of the road will keep you and other road users safe.
  3. Stay Safe: One great way to stop a panic attack when driving is making sure that it doesn’t happen in the first place, that is, keeping all triggers at bay. For instance, ensure that you drive within the speed limit, forget about taking risks, have GPS in your car so that you do not fear getting lost, and avoid swerving around traffic.
  4. Control your breathing: There is a tendency to breathe too quickly when driving. If you feel like you are going to have an attack, avoid taking in as much air as possible. Instead, deliberately slow down your breathing, making certain that each breathe takes at least 15 seconds. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 3, and take 7 to breathe out. Hyperventilation and levels of carbon dioxide in your blood will be highly reduced.
  5. Practice Driving for longer periods: When you feel yourself beginning to have a panic attack, sometimes driving for a long time will stop it. When you keep driving, you begin to worry less about the attack and concentrate on the driving. If you drive for too long, it will become boring. Begin by driving near your home, at about 20 or 30 miles per hour. Drive until you begin to feel relaxed.

As we can see, your thinking has a lot to do with developing panicking. Distractions, keeping stress factor at bay, and driving for longer do not create an environment that can trigger an attack. Practicing these simple techniques will go a long way in preventing attacks over time. Controlling your mind and how you think is a key factor in taking control before your fear takes control of you. You can also visit our help guide on How to Stop a Panic Attack Immediately in general regardless where you experience it.