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Can anything help me overcome this driving anxiety?

Hello Mark,

I wrote to you before back in January of this year concerning my driving anxiety. Before I wrote you, I had tried the Driving Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Overcoming Anxiety, Overcoming Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety, and Keep a Cool Head downloads.

Unfortunately, none of them have worked. My anxiety is still the same. You suggested I try the Rewind Technique. I contacted someone who had completed your Rewind Technique course, but this has not worked for me, either. I have tried numerous psychiatrists, EMDR, anti-anxiety medications, positive thinking, I even purchased a $500 anxiety self-help treatment program...nothing has worked.

In some ways, the driving anxiety has only gotten worse. I don't understand why nothing has worked for me. The strange thing is that I don't have an overwhelming anxiety when I think of the accident that caused all this mess. Can you recommend anything? Is my brain just not capable of recovering from this trauma?

This question was submitted by 'Theona'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Theona and I'm so sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

Certainly most of the approaches you describe, including Rewind, work best with fear and anxieties that are readily available. A 'sample' is sought by the therapist (not too much, but just enough) so that progress can be made. Every problem like this has a solution, however hard that might seem to believe at the moment.

The fact that thinking about driving or the initial crash is distinct from feeling anxious indicates that the anxiety itself has become a conditioned response to driving (rather than Posttraumatic Stress Disorder fuelling it).

I treated a guy once for fear of driving. Like you, he had trouble accessing the fear unless he was actually in the car. We ended up going out in his car to a quiet road and de-conditioning the fear by having him drive 20 feet, then stopping when he felt the fear, getting out, and doing some push-ups to dissipate the adrenaline. Next we'd drive 30 feet, he'd get out, and do push-ups until the arousal dissipated. We continued in this way until he could drive a mile in a built-up area or on a freeway, then two miles, and so on, until it was easier not to do the push-ups than keep driving. This took a while and is a classic systematic desensitization approach. I also taught him to breathe properly whilst driving.

This may be the kind of approach you need for this and could be done with a sympathetic, sensible friend. You could try relaxed visualization of yourself doing this kind of gentle de-conditioning exercise before you actually do it.

I hope this helps. The important thing is you are a learner. You learned to have that fear and you can learn not to have it.

All best wishes,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - September 18th, 2014 in

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