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Driving Anxiety

Driving anxiety, also known as vehophobia, is a specific phobia characterized by an intense and often irrational fear of driving.

What is Driving Anxiety?

Driving anxiety, also known as vehophobia, is a specific phobia characterized by an intense and often irrational fear of driving. Individuals experiencing driving anxiety may feel overwhelming dread, panic, or physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, and trembling when faced with the prospect of driving or even thinking about it. The fear can be triggered by various factors, including traffic, accidents, or a previous traumatic driving experience.

This anxiety can significantly impact daily life, limiting personal and professional opportunities and creating challenges for individuals who need to drive for work, family, or social reasons.

Treatment for Driving Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective and evidence-based treatment for driving anxiety, also known as vehophobia or driving phobia. At Light On Anxiety, our specialized therapists are trained to work with individuals struggling with driving anxiety to address their specific fears and concerns.

Through CBT techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and relaxation training, clients learn to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs related to driving, gradually expose themselves to feared driving situations in a systematic and supportive manner, and develop coping strategies to manage anxiety symptoms.

Our therapists provide a compassionate and non-judgmental environment where clients can explore their fears, gain confidence behind the wheel, and reclaim their independence on the road.


Medication can be a helpful adjunct to therapy in the treatment of driving anxiety, particularly for individuals with severe symptoms or co-occurring conditions such as OCD or panic disorder.

At Light On Anxiety, our team of psychiatric providers collaborates closely with clients to assess their unique needs and develop personalized medication regimens. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as sertraline (Zoloft) or paroxetine (Paxil), are commonly prescribed to reduce anxiety symptoms associated with driving phobia. 

Our approach to medication management prioritizes safety, efficacy, and collaboration with clients to ensure they receive the most appropriate treatment for their symptoms.

Integrating CBT + Medication

At Light On Anxiety, we offer integrated treatment plans that combine evidence-based CBT therapy with medication management to address both the psychological and physiological aspects of driving phobia.

Our therapists and psychiatric providers collaborate closely to tailor treatment plans to each individual’s needs and preferences.

  • CBT helps individuals develop coping skills and address underlying cognitive and behavioral patterns contributing to their driving anxiety.
  • Medication can provide additional support by reducing anxiety symptoms and enhancing the effectiveness of therapy.

Our approach involves a careful integration of CBT and medication, depending on patient preferences and clinical needs, to address both the biological and psychological aspects of driving anxiety.

  1. Collaborative Treatment Planning: Our experienced team works collaboratively to create an individualized treatment plan that assists you in meeting your treatment goals as effectively and rapidly as possible.  
  2. Patient Empowerment: We believe in empowering you with comprehensive information about driving anxiety treatment options, allowing you to make informed decisions about your treatment journey. 
  3. Monitoring Progress: Regular monitoring and adjustments to your treatment plan are made based on your response and progress. This ensures you are obtaining maximum benefits from the time and energy you are putting into the driving anxiety treatment process.  
  4. Ongoing Support:  We offer ongoing support and adjustments to your treatment plan as needed, ensuring a comprehensive and personalized approach to your path to healing.

Your Unique Path to Freedom From Driving Anxiety 

Our goal is to create a treatment plan that aligns with your needs and preferences, recognizing that each individual’s journey is unique.

What are the symptoms of Driving Anxiety?

Symptoms of driving anxiety, or vehophobia, can manifest both emotionally and physically. Common symptoms include:

  • Intense fear or panic when thinking about driving.
  • Overwhelming anxiety or dread before a planned drive.
  • Persistent worry about potential driving situations.
  • Avoidance of driving or places associated with driving.
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Sweating, trembling, or shaking.
  • Nausea or stomach discomfort.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Muscle tension or tightness.
  • Feeling faint or a sense of impending doom.
  • Negative thoughts or catastrophic thinking about driving scenarios.
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on the road.
  • Racing thoughts about potential dangers or accidents.
  • Irrational fears or beliefs about losing control while driving.
  • Avoidance of driving or specific routes.
  • Difficulty initiating or completing drives.
  • Dependence on others for transportation.
  • Physical signs of distress during driving, such as gripping the steering wheel tightly.

FAQs about Driving Anxiety

The abrupt emergence of driving anxiety can stem from diverse triggers. A recent traumatic driving event, significant life changes, heightened stress levels, alterations in health or medication, negative recent driving experiences, and shifts in the social or environmental driving context are common factors contributing to this sudden onset.

Driving anxiety is relatively common, and its prevalence varies among individuals. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. While some individuals may experience mild anxiety or discomfort when driving in certain situations, others may face more severe driving anxiety that significantly impacts their daily lives. The exact prevalence rates can be challenging to determine precisely due to differences in how individuals experience and report driving anxiety.

Driving anxiety can manifest as an overwhelming sense of fear and discomfort associated with the act of driving. Individuals may experience heightened anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. Emotionally, driving anxiety can lead to a persistent and irrational worry about potential accidents or loss of control while driving, making the act of driving itself a distressing and challenging experience.

Driving anxiety can be effectively addressed and managed, and for many individuals, it can significantly improve or even resolve with appropriate interventions. The key lies in identifying the root causes of the anxiety, developing coping strategies, and gradually exposing oneself to the feared situations through therapeutic techniques like exposure therapy.

More About Treatment for Anxiety

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Light On Anxiety CEO Dr Debra Kissen describes how CBT & ERP helps clients move past OCD and other anxiety disorders.

Learn more about how we can create a custom individual treatment plan to fit your goals.

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