Road Trips

Social Anxiety Vs Driving Phobia – Is It Really the Car You’re Afraid Of?

Do you hate red lights? Can’t stand the feeling of cars backed up behind you? Do you dread traffic jams? Are you afraid others are judging you when you drive? Do you hate city driving but love going on road trips?

It’s easy to assume it’s all due to driving phobia. But if you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, it’s possible the cause is actually social anxiety.

Use the lists below to find out if it’s really driving that’s getting under your skin. You may be surprised to learn it’s not driving, it’s your fellow drivers.

A Few Problems with Just Assuming You Have Driving Phobia

  • You HATE having cars back up behind you at red lights: Having a bunch of vehicles behind you is very stressful. Who wouldn’t feel stressed out?
  • You dread traffic jams: Any normal person dislikes driving in heavy traffic. Having to deal with all those cars in close proximity makes you crazy!
  • You think other drivers judge your driving skills: Look, we live in a very competitive society where we’re judged on performance. It’s natural that the skills we display behind the wheel will also be judged.
  • You hate city driving but love road trips: The sense of freedom driving down the open highway beats constricted city driving any day.

Does this automatically mean you have driving phobia? Not necessarily There’s an alternate explanation that suggests social anxiety, not driving phobia, is the culprit. Check out the same list, this time filtered through the lens of social anxiety.

Why Social Anxiety May be a More Accurate, Effective Assessment and Lead to Better Treatment Options

  • Stop lights: Maybe it’s the people in the cars, looking at you from behind, that you can’t stand. This is a common symptom of social anxiety – being looked at, watched, judged. Do you feel the same way in elevators, crowded rooms, and checkout lines at the grocery store?
  • Heavy traffic: While it’s true that driving in heavy traffic is generally unpleasant, it’s especially difficult for social anxiety sufferers. The reason is the same as for red lights – being in a crowd of other people who may be analyzing and criticizing your every move.
  • Driving abilites: Feeling judged is one of the hallmarks of social anxiety. If you’re a decent driver, there’s no particular reason you’d be judged. Assuming you’re being watched and judged may mean it’s the people, not the driving, that’s really bugging you.
  • Love trips, dislike it in town: Yeah, driving in crowded cities does suck. It’s true. But this is a dead give-away for possible social anxiety. What’s the main difference between city and highway driving? The proximity of other people. If blasting down the open road gives you a sense of freedom, maybe it’s because you don’t feel judged or watched.

If you like driving when other people aren’t around and hate it when they are, don’t automatically assume you have driving phobia. You may actually feel very comfortable driving – as long as nobody’s watching you do it. You may need treatment for social anxiety instead of driving phobia. Accurately assessing your real problem will lead to better treatment outcomes and a stronger, more confident you. Make sure you’re getting the kind of help you really need.

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