About 6.3 million Americans suffer from phobias. While irrational fear of any kind is bad, motorphobia can have a debilitating impact on your life. It is defined as the fear of traveling by car. It can:
- Prohibit you from traveling at will. You may be unable to attend important personal and professional meetings.
- Lead to poor self-esteem.
- Prevent you from focusing on important tasks in your life. You may be devoid of simple everyday pleasures.
Types of Motorphobia
- Motorphobia can be categorized into three different types:
- Claustrophobia or the fear of being trapped in traffic or inside the car for prolonged periods of time.
- Fear of crashing
- Fear of lack of control, especially when another individual is driving.
Mechanics of Fear
Motorphobia stems from fearful anticipation. You start thinking about all the horrible things that can happen to you in the car. You may talk to yourself about the distressful possibilities or begin to visualize car crashes and traffic jams. These induce a “flight and fight” reaction in your body. The Hypothalamus, a small gland at the base of your brain, sends signals to your adrenal glands. The glands produce hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which produce the acute stress reaction.
Most people feel uncomfortable and anxious. Other symptoms of motorphobia include:
- Difficulty breathing.
- Increased heart rate.
- Dry mouth.
- A sensation of detachment from reality.
- Inability to think and communicate clearly.
Dealing with Motorphobia
The first step towards handling motorphobia is to recognize its presence. If your fear of car travel is impacting your life, it is time to take it seriously. You may talk to your doctor or consult a psychologist. You may also take some simple steps to overcome the fear.
Begin by thinking rationally. While car travel can be dangerous, other means of travel such as walking and biking can be risky as well. In fact, accidents and terrible things can also happen at your home or office. You should also look at the numbers. Millions of people drive the car every day, and most of them are safe and happy.
Identify the triggers that provoke motorphobia. These could include thinking about past experiences or certain cars. Understand the sequence of events that occur after the trigger. Once you are aware of the problem, you can take steps to control your mind.
It is also important to unlearn your behaviors. Consider listening to your favorite music or spending time with your loved ones before getting into the car. The idea is to divert your mind away from negative thoughts and emotions.
Regular meditation and other relaxation techniques may also help overcome motorphobia without unwanted side effects. They suppress activity in parts of the brain that are associated with anxiety and phobias. Meditation also increases activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which promotes rational thinking and mental control.
Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to treat extreme motorphobia. Discuss the benefits and side effects before starting the regimen.
Do not let motorphobia control your life. There is help out there. You just have to acknowledge your condition and look for solutions. Always remember that millions of men and women across the globe suffer from similar issues. Do not be embarrassed to talk about them.