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I have recently been involved in quite a severe car accident. I broke my ankle and several other people got hurt. Although I wasn't to blame, I felt very responsible for the whole accident. My ankle has healed and thank God the other people who were involved are recovering reasonably well too and I would like to get behind the wheel again now. 

But I simply feel petrified. 

What can I overcome to overcome the driving phobia I have now and get back on the road? Just the thought makes me anxious and I start hyperventilating. 

I really hope you can help me think of a solution. 

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Hi Bob,

It sounds like you have been through a traumatic experience. I don't think it's at all surprising that you find it difficult to start driving again.

Maybe this is a silly suggestion, but do you have the possibility of driving out to a little country lane with one of your friends, and then gently start driving where there's hardly any traffic about?

Or if you are reluctant to do this, how about taking some driving lessons before you get behind the wheel again?

A friend of mine hadn't driven for years, and she took a few lessons and now she is pretty confident again. So maybe that would help you out a little.
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Try this:

- Make sure the environment inside your car is calming and there is nothing to distract you.
- When you get in your car, just sit and do breathing exercises for five to 10 minutes first,
- Do positive affirmations like, I am a safe driver, I will drive carefully.
- Put on some relaxing music.
- Go for short drives at first with a passenger who could take over from you if things get too stressful.
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Thank you for your input. I don't know if these suggestions will help me. I want to say I will try them out, if only because you have taken the time to respond, but I am not very confident that this will work. Just thinking about it, even when I read what you have said, makes me feel on edge.

Do you think there is psychotherapy for this kind of driving phobia? I know it might sound strange, but I do think that I need more serious assistance to overcome my fear of driving.
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Helping people overcoming phobias is usually done through exposure therapy. The more you get used to the thing you're scared of, the more comfortable you become with it. It's amazing how some people who have spent their whole lives terrified of spiders are then able to pet them and hold them, sometimes even on the very same day!

It sounds like you're in no position to do this on your own though, so for your driving phobia I'd look for phobia therapists in your area and then take it from there. Would you be willing to do that? It sure sounds like you're really hoping to get back on the road. 

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Fear of driving is called vehophobia and it is a real thing. However, in your situation, I'd think you would be dealing with post traumatic stress disorder rather than anything else. You have been through a traumatic accident. It is not strange that driving would give you flashbacks and make you panic. 

I would strongly advise you to seek counseling. Talking through your feelings can help you process your accident and your current feelings about driving, and not only could you get back on the road again with time, you will also find that you will generally feel better. You could see a difference in a matter of weeks, but given time, you could really process this. 

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Yeah, I agree that sounds likely... Just in case you hadn't considered PTSD yet OP, here's a list of symptoms.

- Intrusive thoughts about the cause of your trauma, flashbacks, nightmares.
- Avoiding people, places and stuff that remind you of the trauma (that's you for sure!)
- Emotional numbness
- Can't sleep, constantly irritated, agitated, jumpy, restless, that kind of thing...
- Negative thoughts about yourself and the rest of the world
- Self destructive behavior

Sound familiar? There's help. Don't delay and you'll feel better for it...
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I don't know what to say. I came here for help with my driving phobia, which has real consequences on a daily basis because being reliant on other people for transport is hard, not to mention impractical, and I hear about post traumatic stress disorder instead.

I have heard about PTSD before of course, but always associated it with war veterans. I looked up the diagnostic requirements for PTSD to humor you basically, and I sat there staring at the screen realizing they matched me closely.

I guess that adds another dimension to my fear of driving. What do I do now?
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Driving phobia, PTSD, residual shock not quite diagnosible as PTSD... whatever it is you have, my friend, it's apparent that you could do with some counseling. I know that men in particular can be quite apprehensive about attending counseling, thinking it's emotional hoo-ha, but I say don't knock it till you try it. Going to counseling doesn't mean that you are crazy and it doesn't mean that you won't get better very soon either. After being through an accident, it's normal to feel... well, out of sorts. That's what therapists are there to help you fix, and they're quite good at it.
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What do you do now, Bob? Now you get yourself to a therapist. You tell them exactly what you told us, except in much more detail - after first establishing that you are comfortable with the therapist and can trust them, of course. Then, you ask the therapist exactly what you asked us. What do you do now? How can you overcome both your fear of driving and whatever else is still bothering you surrounding the accident you were in?

That's the therapist's job, offering you answers and helping you implement them. I bet you'll feel better and will be back to driving quite soon.
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