Driving Panic



New member
Jan 22, 2019
Hi all

I'm having some issues with panic attacks due to a fear fainting while driving after an event a few years ago where I did faint.
Previously I was treated with Paxil and that seemed to work but slowly the fear has been coming back. I have all the usual aversions, such as bridges and highways or places where I can't pull over. I've been prescribed Fluoxetine this time but I'm procrastinating with starting it as I really didn't enjoy the antidepressant experience at all before. It also felt like it masked the problem rather than solving it. I've looked into CBT but it's unaffordable for me at this time as is seeing a psychologist.

-Are there any other solutions available that are affordable?
-Would finding a driving instructor with dual steering in their vehicle be worth trying to push myself through the -experience?
-Has anyone had any experience with Fluoxetine and it's side effects?
-Are there any other related physical ailments that may be giving me anxiety that I can treat to cope with the situation?
-Any suggestions on silencing or addressing the "what if...?" thought pattern which in this case would be "what if I fainted and couldn't remove myself from harming myself or others while driving?
-Also looking for suggestions on controlling the dizziness during a panic attack as that gives me the most worry because obviously it's quite hard to see straight.
-Is there an emergency procedure for panic while driving or any other ailment while driving to avoid collision? I'm sure there have been many cases where something has happened to a driver physically (stroke, heart attack, etc)and I would think that there are precautions in place for these events? The only thing I would know to do and which I did during my actual faint is to hit the hazard lights and pullover. Lucky the truck in the lane I was crossing was paying attention.

Thanks in advance.


Jan 24, 2019
Hi BruceF,
I'm not sure if you've tried mindfulness or meditation. I have found a couple apps on my phone that help with basic belly breathing, and if I'm anxious about a situation I put this app on for 5-10 minutes and just breathe. It helps to lower my baseline energy and I feel much calmer after doing it. If you don't have any apps, you can just practice breathing, usually I breathe in for 4, hold for 2-4, breathe out for 4, and hold for 2-4. Sometimes I do this for 5 minutes, other times I do it for 10-15. It does help to calm me down before I do something that may be anxiety inducing.
Now when you're driving, is it to and from work? Or does this happen at any time? I was wondering if it's to and from work, have you thought about carpooling? I know many people who do that who want to save some money. Not sure if that is something you would be comfortable with, and you wouldn't need to anyone why you're carpooling, if you're not comfortable with that.
I have found some useful resources such as books about managing anxiety, and the best thing they say is to make sure your taking the deep belly breaths because when we are hyperventilating it can cause us to have symptoms such as feeling faint. When we have deep belly breaths, we can trick our body into thinking it is relaxed.
The "what if" pattern of negative thinking, I have heard some advice from my therapist, that said instead of thinking what if this happens and thinking of the worst possible scenario, trying to think of the best that can happen as well, like getting home safe. Try to say "I wonder what will happen on my drive home today" When we wonder about things, it can ease the anxiety because we are not focusing on the negative by only thinking of the worst that can happen.
I hope some of this helps. I know it's not easy to change this happening overnight.
Hope you find some relief.