Vehophobia is also known commonly as fear of driving.
This phobia can negatively affect the phobic’s daily life especially since most of us are dependent on this activity to get on by to work, school, etc.
This phobia goes a long way in negatively affecting individuals to such an extreme extent that they refuses to go out especially if they has to drive, visit a doctor or a dentist or even drive to work. Victims of vehophobia prefer public transport or request friends or family members to drive them each time.
This is no problem and can be manipulated, so long as these options are available at ones disposal. Mostly, this might not be the case and begins to affect the individuals education, job and other activities negatively.
As there are different types of phobia, so are there varying degrees and intensities of vehophobia.
Some individuals only become anxious about driving on highways or certain dreaded routes or alongside heavy duty cars and trucks.
Some are unable to pass their driving tests or acquire a license. A few might be having valid driving licenses but they pose a danger to themselves as well as other drivers. They might develop a panic attack while driving and freeze up to an extent that they are unable to apply brakes or change gears etc. In extreme cases of vehophobia, the phobic may even be high-strung being a passenger in the vehicle.
CAUSES OF EXTREME FEAR OF DRIVING:
An individual with the extreme phobia of driving has likely had a negative traumatic experience in the past which the brain has developed a sort of defence mechanism against. So, whenever the vehophobic is confronted with a stimulus (vehicles, etc), s/he becomes sensitised and might show varying symptoms ranging from minor to major depending on the intensity of the confrontation. Other causes include;
* S/he might have been involved in a crash or witnessed a particularly bad accident directly or indirectly.
* Having tough driving instructors during the time of learning can also cause Vehophobia.
* Having experienced a particularly dangerous or scary journey through fog, rain, snow, fleet or other adverse conditions or having large animals such as a moose or deer dart suddenly in front of ones car can cause this phobia.
* Seeing anxious parents panic while driving can lead a child to have vehophobia.
* Road rage from fellow driver or passerby (where one has shouted or provoked the individual).
* Traffic jams can cause stress; which can cause the brain to develop panic or anxiety response each time one gets behind the wheel.
* People prone to anxiety attacks or nervous disorders or those with adrenal deficiencies are likely to develop the fear of driving.
* Reading or Hearing news about severe auto accidents or watching movies that show violent car crashes can create negative thoughts about driving.
SYMPTOMS OF VEHOPHOBIA:
Vehophobia can lead to various symptoms that can be characterized as emotional and physical.
The physical symptoms include:
* shaking and trembling
* having a dry mouth
* rapid heart rate and heart palpitations
* shallow breathing and chest pains
* nausea, sweaty hands etc. Such a panic and anxiety attack can occur each time the individual gets behind the wheel or even sees images or videos of people driving. It can cause one to freeze up so that s/he is unable to change gears or apply the brakes as required.
Emotional symptoms include;
* refusing to drive
* avoiding situations that encompass driving
* feeling panic and terror or extreme dread at thought of driving
* experiencing terrifying images about driving. The individual also feels detached or removed from reality, in that; he or she feels empathetic to the events.
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF DRIVING:
* Hypnotherapy is a very effective therapy for overcoming the fear of driving. It gets to the bottom of the fear, traces why it has taken root and helps provide solutions to overcome the same.
* Facing ones fear is one of the best ways of getting over Vehophobia. It is important to reduce tension or fear of any kind when getting behind the wheel. Imagining positive thoughts and visualizing ideal situations are some ways of accomplishing this. A therapist can also help one relearn or un-learn negative things the brain has taught itself.
* Talking about ones fears, and taking defensive driving lessons, or joining special groups that help one overcome such a phobia are a few other methods of dealing with Vehophobia.
* Cognitive behavior therapy and gradual desensitization are some other options to help one overcome this phobia.
This phobia is tough for the victims who are affected by it. It can destabilise as well as debilitate many social, economical functions in the life of the phobic, hereby, reducing the quality of life and and bring a sort of “discordance” or lack of trust among work colleagues, as the constant excuses and missed working hours begins to sound like a lie. The only way forward is for the victim to be receptive and open to treatment and from there, the physiologist can apply treatments and try approaches to reduce the intensity and finally cure the phobia.