Panic attacks while driving are not uncommon and can be extremely dangerous. Here are some common causes.
Though driving is second nature to many of us, it can be a very anxiety-inducing activity for some. Panic attacks while driving are not uncommon and can be extremely dangerous. This article will go over the signs and causes of panic attacks and also share some recommendations on how to stay calm while behind the wheel.
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear or anxiety that can come on without warning. Many people who experience panic attacks feel as if they are losing control. Physical symptoms of a panic attack may include:
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Shortness of breath or feeling like you can’t breathe
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of choking or smothering
- Nausea or abdominal pain
Causes of Panic Attacks While Driving
There are many possible causes of panic attacks while driving. For some people, it may result from a specific trigger, such as passing by a car accident or seeing a police officer. For others, there may be no specific trigger at all. Panic attacks can also result from anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) or social anxiety disorder. If you experience panic attacks, it’s important to seek professional help to find the root cause and develop a treatment plan.
How Common are Panic Attacks?
Panic attacks are more common than many people realize. In fact, according to recent research, 1 in 10, or about 25.8 million, adults in the U.S. experience them at least once a year. And of those who suffer from panic attacks, about 2% to 3% of them go on to develop panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks.
Tips for Managing Panic Attacks While Driving
If you experience panic attacks while driving, there are a few things you may consider doing to stay calm:
Focus on your breathing: This may seem difficult, but it’s important to focus on taking slow, deep breaths to avoid hyperventilating.
Pullover if possible: If you’re feeling like you’re about to have a panic attack, it’s generally best to pull over and take a break. This will help you avoid making the situation worse by trying to push through it.
Talk to someone: Sometimes, just talking to someone can help diffuse the panic attack. If you have a passenger in the car, talk to them, or pull over and call a friend or family member.
Avoid making sudden movements: Sudden movements can exacerbate the symptoms of a panic attack, so it’s important to avoid things like jerking the steering wheel or slamming on the brakes.
If the panic attack persists, it’s important to seek professional help.
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