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Author Topic: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car  (Read 1767 times)

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Offline Amy38

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Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« on: December 03, 2013, 10:27:24 AM »
I have had severe panic attacks since I was 19 and I am now 38 years old. In the past, my panic attacks would mostly occur when I was in a crowded public place like a restaurant or store, but recently I have had panic attacks while I'm driving. One day, I was stopped at a red light and had a major panic attack about being trapped at the red light without a way to escape. I felt light headed, dizzy, heart racing, dry mouth and as soon as the light turned green, I pulled over and called my husband to come pick me up. I have never had a driving phobia in the past, but now I do. It's gotten so bad that I won't drive at all now for fear of having a panic attack and losing control of my car.  I even had a panic attack a couple days ago when I was riding in the car as a passenger and we were driving on the highway. I suddenly felt dizzy and my heart started racing and I felt like I needed to escape the vehicle (which wasn't possible since we were driving at about 70 mph). I wanted to jump out of my skin at exit the vehicle! It was the worst feeling in the world. I am on Effexor, but I'm still having panic attacks. Has anyone else experienced this? I feel like I'm losing my mind!
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Offline anxiouskathie

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2013, 11:01:46 AM »
Hi Amy.....first of all, welcome for Anxiety Zone!!

I'm sorry to hear about your panic while driving.  I started down that road a while back as well, but since I have to get myself to and from work each day, I knew I had to put a stop to that in a quick hurry!  What I find helpful was that I now always chew gum while driving, and as I'm driving I try to notice similar things around me....such as, oh there are three of those red cars like that I've seen pass by me, or if you have to stop at a red light, make sure you have one of your favorite cd's and sing along.  I believe when driving it's all about the distraction. 

Hope this helps!
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Offline patagonia816

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 08:36:14 PM »
Hey there...I had a panic attack in a car a few days ago. I was driving back home for the holiday with my girlfriend and I had to pull over. She took the wheel, but I still felt icky. I now keep paper bags in my car. Proper breathing technique is essential. Pretend you're in a yoga class...or meditating and release all the bad with every exhale. I recently purchased nasal strips...they help to open up my nostrils just a little bit more so when I am making my way through an attack, I feel as though I am getting more oxygen.

These things are a royal pain in the arse. Just remember you're going to get through it and that there are so many others out there with the same problem.
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We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. - Oscar Wilde

Offline CarrieAnn

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 02:43:11 PM »
Just want to say, I have experienced the same thing. It has gotten better though; you're not alone  :action-smiley-065:
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Offline Artemissive

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 07:50:30 PM »
The same thing happens to me... I get panic attacks driving when stopped at a red light, in traffic, in the left lane, or when I have to make a left hand turn :( It sucks.
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Offline Summer04

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 04:48:58 PM »
Hi Amy,

We're the same age, and I've gone through the same thing.  I sometimes hate being stuck at a red light, and will get into the right lane if I can, because I can easily turn and "escape."  This doesn't happen all the time but when it does, it truly stinks.  :(  I feel the same way - anxious, heart racing, hands sweaty. 

I also hate being on bridges.  My fiance and I went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Virginia this past summer and how I dealt with it was to take out my camera and vlog the entire trip over the bridge.  It worked because I focused on vlogging and not that I was on the bridge.  It also helped being the passenger!  Lol

I've been in cars that were moving fast and sometimes I can get the driver to slow down.  However, if we're on the highway or parkway and they have to go a certain speed, I will take out my phone and focus on that.  I'll log onto ***** and distract myself. 
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Offline Summer04

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 04:50:41 PM »
Hi Amy.....first of all, welcome for Anxiety Zone!!

I'm sorry to hear about your panic while driving.  I started down that road a while back as well, but since I have to get myself to and from work each day, I knew I had to put a stop to that in a quick hurry!  What I find helpful was that I now always chew gum while driving, and as I'm driving I try to notice similar things around me....such as, oh there are three of those red cars like that I've seen pass by me, or if you have to stop at a red light, make sure you have one of your favorite cd's and sing along.  I believe when driving it's all about the distraction. 

Hope this helps!

Kathie, I've also begun chewing gum once again when driving.  I notice that it does help with the anxiety.  Also having good music on to distract me is a big help.
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Offline Isa

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 12:45:51 AM »
I haven't had a panic attack in a car, but I have moments where I've had a lot of anxiety and felt like I might panic. For me actually driving and moving forward makes me feel better as I stare as far forward as I can, but stopping at a light will increase my anxiety at times. I have the same trapped feeling you described. Could you try moving your seat back farther and loosening your seat belt a little so it's away from your neck and more over your shoulder? That might give you the feeling of more space. Crack a window for some air, focus on things far away or keep your face close to the window (if you're not driving) to give yourself the illusion of being out. Maybe, again if you're not driving, close your eyes and rest back in the seat and try to imagine you are floating on the ocean or on a carousel or something other than in the car.
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Offline Julie A. Cook

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 08:19:42 AM »
Hi Amy, I've had panic attacks in the car and am facing a 1,000 mile drive back to Florida with my husband and my dog in a week or so. I try to get out as much as possible and userest rooms, stretch, take my ant-anxiety med when needed, and knowthat I'll be in my house on the other side.  ALso helps to kow that there are hospitals just about everywhere!  (Not that you're going to ned one!)

Deep, easy breathing, and keep engaged in the moment and what you're seeingon the roadway.

Hang tough, and best regards,

Julie
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Offline angelablair

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 04:23:03 PM »
Just wanted to let you know I could have written this post literally word for word, except my attacks started when I was 20 and I am now (almost) 28. My first panic attack also happened sitting at a red light 8 years ago and that is when my driving fear began. It makes me feel so much better coming on here and knowing that I am not alone and others are just as "crazy" as me.  :spineyes:
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Offline Powerslave1724

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 06:41:49 PM »
Traffic is a BIG one for me. Anytime I see traffic I start to panic, not knowing how long I will be in it for, when will it end...and then like clockwork I have to go to the bathroom right then and there! It's awful.

I need to be in control though, I can't be a passenger without freaking out. Mainly because if I have to go to the bathroom I want to be able to pull over and go. Other then that I'm fine. I ride a motorcycle as well and that's one thing that gives me relief. For some reason if I hit traffic and i'm on my bike i just don't care and get zero anxiety. It's wierd...something about being on my bike is relaxing. It's my escape. I get on my bike and cruise and nothing matters. When I'm out there nothing bothers me.
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Offline David F

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Re: Panic attacks while driving and riding in fast-moving car
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2015, 12:28:36 AM »
Hi Amy, Welcome to the club! I have had these attacks since I was about 27 and that was back starting in 1987-1988. My first 2 attacks were driving a car with sky girl friend as a passenger.  They were wild! I had never experienced so much fear In my life. I brought the car to a halt, hopped out and ran in the wood a few feet. And then proceeded to pack snow into my face in hopes to snap me out of whatever it was that I had no clue was happening. My girl friend thought I was puking. And I disguised it as that by agreeing.  After that? It was all down hill in life after that. Her, the love of my life, was engaged and ruined that within months. Found out drinking 2,3,4 beers a day would calm me enough to deal with the attacks. But then my mother upon moving home called the police on me for my first D.U.I., Then in quick succession i got a couple more D.U.I.'s because this is Massachusetts who used my first as an excuse to lie in police reports in the amount in which I had consumed (And the M.A.D.D. was on their initial witch hunt then) But even with that? Had it not been for the attacks. I would not have had to drink 2,3,4, beers a day to ward off the panic attacks. I  quit drinking in hopes that the attacks would stop. But at that point I had developed 'Agoraphobia' and didnt even know it. Why? Because I did the worst thing. I hid it as best I could for 10 years. When one of my sisters got it. She ran right to the doctor, and that is when I 'came out' . But not before not drinking for 4 years, then going back to drinking as a cure, 3 more D.U.I. convictions (an absolute joke on several of them....noonish with a beer and a half out of a six pack holder and I am drunk.....I think not...but this is Massachusetts. .....so once again the lie except for the last one where the trooper knew I was not drunk. And wrote the police report up to spite the town officers pushing him to do so. He told the truth....but then l ousey pro bono lawyers always do zip for you and another D.U.I. and once again.....because this is Massachusetts and they dont care aboit the truth) Finally after 3 doctors misdiagnosis.  A nurse hits the nail on the head ' agoraphobia with panic disorder. I said " what the hell is that" The reason I did not get better when I quit drinking? The agoraphobia had already set in. They tried several meds, but I could not deal with it. Talking about it was my biggest help. Andknowing I wasnt the only one out there with these attacks, and I wasnt going crazy. Finding my triggers were another point as well. I knew I didnt not want to drink or be tied to a six pack a day, or meds for my life. InIn fact I hate hard liquor and do not really like the taste of beer either. But it was the only thing that seemed to make me calm enough to the point I didnt care, or would mellow out. But I do believe thebeers, I
in fact I know they were only making it worst the following day. Another was caffeine.  I knew in the middle of my hiding the attacks that it had something to do with it. So Sank a was about all you could get then. And I went decaf. Another trigger? Lack of sleep.I can get the attacks with that as well. Stress! Is one big one for me too. You should look into these triggers and find your own. These may possibly be yours too. But the biggest. Do not hide them. Talk about them. Warn people about the difficulties you are having with them, and that they are harmless. It makes me more at ease. Especially when I get 'lock-up'  I call it. Thats when I am in a car or elsewhere. Have an attack that stops me mid sentence trying to get a handle on the attack. The woman that has cut my hair since 1981 has the same attacks as I do. Know what. We laugh about all the stupid stuff we did during our attacks. Talking about it helps...trust me. Take your attacks and have a laugh about all the stupidest things you did because of them. You will find you will be fine in the end
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