Amaxophobia: What it is and how to deal with it

5 min to readDriver safety
Do you know what amaxophobia is? Although the name seems strange, the fear of driving is suffered by many people. The symptoms are diverse and the result is only one: driver's license in his pocket and the car in the garage.
Of course, there is a difference between healthy or admissible fear, which is natural in people who have never driven, or who have been through a traumatic experience - an accident -, and the pathological and excessive fear that totally blocks a person from carry out this activity.

What is amaxophobia?

Amaxophobia is the pathological fear of driving a car. When we say pathological, we mean that the very idea of having to carry out this activity - driving a car - generates physical disorders in the person. This phobia affects people of both sexes. Statistics in Europe indicate that it is suffered by people who are between 30 and 40 years of age and that it is suffered by 6% of the population.

Some extreme cases of extreme amaxophobia can destroy a person's social, work or professional life. Fear seizes them to such an extent that it prevents them from using a vehicle even if they are not the drivers.

People suffering from this pathology must understand that they are victims of irrational fear. As with all phobias, it’s important to receive professional therapeutic support to establish the most appropriate help. Not all cases are the same and do not have the same origin.

Amaxophobia: what are the causes?

Few cases of amaxophobia are congenital or have no obvious explanation. However, they do exist, even if they are very rare.

Among the most common causes of fear of driving we have:

  • A panic attack, or an anxiety state caused by a traffic jam
  • Having suffered a traumatic traffic accident
  • Hearing a story about a childhood car accident or losing someone close to you because of a car accident
  • See images about traffic accidents, that affect people's sensitivity, in movies, videos, documentaries
  • In some people, psychological prone to this situations, the sight of large numbers of cars in a traffic jam can trigger the phobia

In most cases, the victim of amaxophobia must be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy, which directly addresses the symptoms produced by anxiety, offering a work plan to the patient, according to the origins of the pathology.

Amaxophobia: the symptoms

The simple fear of driving does not evidence the existence of amaxophobia. As we have already noted, there is a natural fear, which can be controlled and treated. However, when the following symptoms appear, we must pay attention, because we are facing a victim of this phobia:

  • Such strong anxiety attacks that cause panic, tremors, cold sweats, cardiac arrhythmia
  • Feeling of lack of self-control, leading to emotional shock and the appearance of dramatic thoughts in which the person is afraid of causing an accident
  • Before having the phobia, the person begins to be very defensive, to circulate slowly, in the slow lanes, only in streets near his place of residence. Generally, at the beginning, the patient stops driving at night
  • Eventually, the patient stops driving altogether

How to overcome fear of driving?

Amaxophobia, like any other phobia, usually has an obvious origin, but it is also generally linked to the existence of certain factors, such as extreme sensitivity, low self-esteem or even other phobias.  

Treatment should be undertaken by professionals in the areas of psychology or psychiatry if necessary. Therefore, the recommendations we share below are only a guide that is not intended to replace professional help:

  • Overcoming amaxophobia is a task that requires a great deal of mental work. Therefore, it is important that the patient makes a real commitment. That you really want to overcome the phobia, and that you are psychologically prepared to face the sway of the emotions that may exist
  • When deciding to overcome this phobia, with the help of a specialist, it is important to try to determine the source of the fear. Many people start suffering from this fear after having an accident, but others never manage to discover the root of the problem. Knowing the origin helps to discover the solution much faster
  • Fear of driving makes the victim of this phobia feel sick just sitting in front of the wheel. A good start is to carry out therapies inside the car, being parked in the garage
  • It is convenient to take small steps at a time, under professional supervision and in a quiet area that reinforces the idea of security
  • Once the quiet area stage has been passed, you can move to areas with greater movement, always under the supervision of professionals in both psychology and automotive security

If you think that the fear you feel about driving is uncontrollable and that it produces episodes of anxiety and panic, the best thing you can do is to go immediately to a mental health professional.

Remember that much of the success in overcoming this, or any phobia, is in your real desire to achieve it.

Published at October 21, 2020

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October 21, 2020

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