Human phobias, which are generally defined as an intense, irrational fear of an object, place, or event, are mysterious. They are very common – experts believe at least 1 in 10 people will develop a phobia at some point in their lives. Yet it’s often unclear WHY they develop.
Phobias are fears, and fear is a normal part of life. Fear is a good thing in many cases. It’s good to be afraid of things that really can hurt us, like certain insects, dangerous animals, or falling off cliffs. But the human mind can fixate on some fears and over-exaggerate them out of proportion to their actual danger.
Being afraid of something (even something irrational) is not in and of itself a phobia. A phobia is formed when we anticipate danger and begin to avoid places and situations we associate with that danger. So a phobia is irrational fear PLUS habitual avoidance.
The 2 Main Ways Phobias Develop
Phobias tend to either develop gradually with no definable cause, or suddenly as a response to a traumatic event.
In the case of driving phobia, some sufferers report their fear came on gradually, steadily becoming worse over time. This type of phobia usually has no apparent cause and is often a simple misfire between the brain and the feelings / nervous system. Driving somehow becomes associated with danger, even though nothing dangerous actually happened.
Some people develop driving phobia as a direct response to trauma; things like car accidents, bodily injury, injury to other drivers, property damage etc. It’s more obvious why the person associates driving with danger in these cases.
This type of phobia is a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is lingering fear that hangs on even after a tramatic event is over and resolved. The tricky thing about PTSD-related phobias is that they’re not, strictly speaking, irrational.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you do have some real cause to be afraid of driving. Driving actually can be a dangerous activity. The tough part is teasing out how much of your fear is rational vs. over-exaggerated. How dangerous is driving really?
So You Have Driving Phobia. Now What?
Whether your driving phobia is gradual or is a result of PTSD, I’m sorry. I sympathize, because I’ve also suffered with this phobia. It can be a tough thing to live with.
The good news is that phobias respond well to treatment. Treatment options for driving phobia (or any other) include:
Cognative Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Gradual Exposure Therapy
Which Solution is Right for You?
In a way, it doesn’t matter how you choose to treat your phobia… as long as you take action and are serious about wanting to change. If you approach it sincerely and with a real desire to change, chances are that you will see significant improvement. And of course the opposite is also true.
If you’re brand-new to phobia and have no experience with anxiety treatment, I recommend you choose a good anxiety treatment therapist. You may need guidance early on in your anxiety recovery.
Those experienced treating and living with other phobias may find that learning meditation or using self-help resources is enough to successfully treat driving phobia. Keep in mind that self-help alone is often not enough for many people, especially if you’re inexperienced.
Treating Phobias Focuses More on Solutions Than Causes
Whatever caused your driving phobia, treating it successfully means learning new here-and-now skills. It will probably not be necessary to spend much time re-hashing the past.
Modern anxiety treatment methods are about retraining your brain, nervous system, and emotions to judge and respond more appropriately to actual dangers instead of perceived ones.