For adults living in most parts of the United States, driving is a common and even necessary part of everyday life. Anything that interferes with your ability to drive to school, work, or for errands can make day-to-day life exceptionally difficult.
If you have a persistent fear of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, you may have already heard the word vehophobia. But what is vehophobia, and how does it develop? We answer these questions for victims of car accidents in Chicago.
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What Is Vehophobia?
Johns Hopkins Medicine defines the word phobia as “an uncontrollable, irrational, and lasting fear of a certain object, situation, or activity.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 12.5% of adults in the U.S. will experience a phobia at least once during their lifetime.
Vehophobia is a specific type of phobia that manifests as the fear of driving. Someone with vehophobia may be able to travel comfortably in a motor vehicle as a passenger but experience extreme distress, discomfort, and panic when faced with the possibility of being the driver.
Symptoms of Vehophobia
As irrational and uncontrollable fears, phobia symptoms can manifest in a number of ways. Symptoms of vehophobia range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of a person’s condition. Sweating and shaking when faced with the object of a phobia is exceptionally common, as is:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heartbeat
- Feeling dizzy or light-headed
- Tingling or numbness
- Hot flashes or chills
Someone with vehophobia may also feel disconnected from their body when they are in a position that requires them to drive. Racing and uncontrollable thoughts are also common, and vehophobia in particular may illicit thoughts that involve:
- Being involved in a severe accident
- Being trapped in a damaged vehicle and unable to get out
- Getting lost on the way to their destination
- Losing control of the vehicle
Even mild vehophobia can interfere with your ability to live a full and happy life. If you experience any of the above symptoms related to a persistent fear of driving, Thomas Law Offices urges you to seek treatment with a mental health professional. Life can be better with the right treatment.
If you believe your acute fear of driving was the result of a preventable accident, contact our law office as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. A car accident lawyer can help you hold the driver who hit you liable for their actions.
Phobias Similar to Vehophobia
Vehophobia is specifically the fear of driving a motor vehicle. It is not the fear of being in a car or riding as a passenger. Phobias that are similar to vehophobia include:
- Amaxophobia – the fear of being in a vehicle
- Hodophobia – the fear of traveling
Phobias can overlap. Someone living with vehophobia can also struggle with general feelings of amaxophobia. The combination of vehophobia and hodophobia can be particularly debilitating, affecting a person’s ability to travel in any capacity, whether as a driver or passenger in a car, by foot as a pedestrian, or when traveling by airplane.
What Causes Vehophobia?
As an irrational fear, it is possible for vehophobia to develop without any apparent reason.
Vehophobia may also be the result of a number of different causes, including:
- Being involved in a car accident, with or without injuries
- Witnessing a particularly traumatic car crash
- Being around someone who fears driving, such as a parent or guardian, during formative years
- Losing a friend or loved one to a car wreck
- Reading articles or watching news segments about car accidents
Whether there is an apparent cause (such as a car accident) or if it developed on its own, there is no shame in vehophobia. However, treatment often hinges upon correctly identifying the source of your phobia, so if you believe something may have triggered your vehophobia, you should be open and honest about it with your mental health provider.
Is Vehophobia Curable?
With proper treatment, it is possible to overcome vehophobia. Treatment may take time, and you may not see results as fast as you would initially like. It is also not uncommon to make progress and then experience a sudden decline when faced with a trigger, such as being asked to drive unexpectedly or passing by an accident.
If you were injured in a car accident and cost is a barrier to seeking treatment for your new debilitating fear of driving, do not delay—contact Thomas Law Offices at your earliest convenience to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced Chicago car accident attorneys will ensure that you understand your legal rights after a car accident, which typically includes recovering compensation for things like medical bills and therapy.
Treatment Options for Post-Accident Vehophobia
There are several treatment options for those living with vehophobia. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health treatment, though, so it may take some time for you and your provider to determine the best treatment for your unique case.
Below are some of the most effective treatments for vehophobia.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of mental health treatment designed to help individuals identify negative, harmful, or unhelpful thoughts or behavior patterns. CBT is a common form of talk therapy conducted by a therapist, psychotherapist, or other mental health care professional.
As part of CBT therapy for vehophobia, your therapist might request that you journal about your thoughts during the day, schedule routines around tasks that make you feel anxious and expose yourself to difficult situations.
Although medications cannot make your vehophobia go away, many prescription drugs are effective at addressing the symptoms caused by severe phobias. Anti-anxiety medication can lower feelings of shaking, chest pain, impaired breathing, and other symptoms that may surface when faced with the possibility of driving a vehicle.
Anti-anxiety medication should not be used on its own to treat vehophobia. Prescription medications are most effective when used in conjunction with other treatments that are aimed at addressing the root cause of the problem, such as therapy.
Living with a phobia can be an intensely isolating experience. Finding support within a community that understands what you are going through can be a vital component of your overall recovery. Whether in-person or virtually, support groups for people living with vehophobia, amaxophobia, or hodophobia can provide support and a sense of understanding during a period of your life that may otherwise be marked by trauma.
Can I Sue the Driver Who Caused My Vehophobia?
If you developed a persistent, uncontrollable fear of driving after being involved in an accident, it’s possible that you may have developed vehophobia.
If that accident was the result of another driver’s negligent or reckless behind-the-wheel behavior, Illinois law affords you the right to hold the other driver responsible for the harm they’ve caused. This means that you have the right to seek compensation for the physical, financial, and emotional damages you’ve suffered—including a fear of driving.
Thomas Law Offices Is a Compassionate Advocate
We know that a serious car accident can alter your life in surprising ways. If you are no longer able to drive because of a deep-seated fear like vehophobia, we want to be part of the solution.
For a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation, please contact Thomas Law Offices by phone or by filling out our convenient online form. A lawyer from our Chicago office is standing by to speak with you.