Having trouble getting back into a car after being in a crash? You're not alone.
You've been faced with a traumatic event and you're trying to deal with the emotional and physical consequences. It's not surprising that you want to avoid the activity that resulted in the trauma.
What is Driver Anxiety?
Driver anxiety is when anxiety symptoms are triggered by driving or anticipating driving. Common symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate or palpitations
- Sweat palms
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion and dizziness
Symptoms can be triggered by certain conditions like driving near the crash site or beside certain vehicles or they can be present the whole time you're driving. It can even prevent some people from getting in a vehicle at all. Anxiety symptoms can impact your ability to drive safely. The most common cause of driver anxiety is being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Though it can start out of the blue with no obvious reason. And it has nothing to do with how serious the crash was or if you were injured or not. It's different for everyone.
Driver anxiety can start off as a small annoyance and, if ignored, increase to seriously impact your ability to function. But by taking care of you emotional well-being early, you can often prevent it or limit its impact.
What can I do?
The first step is to acknowledge the emotions you are experiencing. And if you were in a crash or experienced a trauma, recognize that the emotions you are experiencing are a normal response to an unanticipated event. Even is no one is talking to you about it, it is expected! And if anyone tries to minimize or dismiss your emotions, ignore them, they don't understand.
Next step is to pay attention to your emotional well-being, and pay attention early. Don't wait to see if things settle down or your injuries heal. Take care of your emotional well-being as soon as possible. Even if you have injuries that prevent you from driving, this early support can help you through your recovery and prevent problems further down the road. Start with trying some self-help resources. In BC, as in other places, there are free online resources like Kelty's Key and Bounce Back.
If those don't help, or you prefer to talk to someone, then reach out to a counselor or psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety and stress. In many places, the cost of treatment is covered by insurance. In BC, ICBC pre-approves you for a limited number of counseling sessions in the first 12 weeks after a crash, even if you were at fault - no questions asked!
If you find that despite this early support, you have issues with driver anxiety, then you can seek help from professionals who specialize in treating anxiety. Look for a service with in-vehicle sessions to make sure you are getting help while driving.
Remember that help is there, you just need to reach out.
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