Understanding Post-Accident Vehophobia—The Fear of Driving
It is very common for individuals who have been in a car accident to suffer from what is known as vehophobia—the fear of driving. Like all phobias, vehophobia is a persistent fear that can inhibit your ability to perform a particular task. Claustrophobia can make it difficult to ride in an elevator while acrophobia could trigger stress simply by looking out of a window from the upper level of an office or apartment building.
With vehophobia, the crippling fear of driving comes from a lived experience. The memories and trauma of going through an accident, the injuries suffered, and the pain endured by others in the vehicle all make driving stressful and anxiety-inducing.
Another way to think of vehophobia is as a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event, in this case, a car or truck accident, it is normal for them to also experience increased levels of stress and anxiety when they find themselves in situations that remind them of the event, in this case driving a car. The likelihood of experiencing PTSD after a car accident is increased if the person thought they or a loved one was going to die or become seriously injured in the accident.
With vehophobia and PTSD as common as they are, it might be helpful to understand how they are treated.
Possible Treatments for Vehophobia
Obviously, if you have been in an accident and suspect you are suffering from vehophobia or PTSD it is crucial you meet with a doctor as soon as possible. Only after a trained medical professional has given a thorough physical and mental exam is proper diagnosis and treatment possible.
Don’t try to self-diagnose or self-medicate. Let a psychiatrist who knows exactly what to look for help you in your case.
If you are diagnosed with vehophobia or PTSD after your accident, it is possible that your doctor will recommend several different forms of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy.
The various forms of therapy include:
- Exposure Therapy: With exposure therapy, your doctor will help you encounter the car accident by talking about it and reimagining it. The goal is to teach you how to effectively cope with the stress and anxiety you feel any time you get behind the wheel.
- Cognitive Therapy: This type of therapy seeks to help you recognize your patterns of thinking and how they might be contributing to your symptoms. For example, if you think the risk of getting in another accident is higher than it actually is, cognitive therapy can help you recognize the irrationality of such thoughts and help you overcome them.
Instead of therapy, or coupled with it, your doctor might also prescribe medication. In some cases, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications have proven helpful in reducing stress levels in those who take them. Antidepressants can also help address sleeping problems and issues related to a lack of concentration.
If for some reason you don’t want to address your vehophobia or PTSD with therapy or medication, or if you feel like you would like to supplement your treatments, you might want to consider taking a defensive driving class. Defensive driving classes teach the skills necessary to drive safely and give drivers confidence when they are on the road.
By taking the classes, individuals who are battling vehophobia might feel like they are taking tangible steps to prevent another accident and that they are regaining control of their car and their lives. These benefits alone can help drivers a great deal.
Vehophobia is a Real Injury and You May Be Entitled to Compensation
If you have been in an accident and are currently suffering from vehophobia or PTSD, contact a qualified personal injury lawyer. A good lawyer is not only interested in the legal side of your case, but will be an advocate and support you as you seek to overcome the accident and the trauma you have suffered as a result.
Your lawyer will also fight to get compensation to cover the treatment you have had to seek. Instead of adding stress to your already anxiety-filled recovery, let a personal injury lawyer walk with you as you overcome your accident and work to get the money you deserve.