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Anxiety and Driving

Q: I've been feeling extremely anxious for more than a year, and the weird part about it is that it only crops up when I'm behind the wheel. I get so worked up that I drive at least 20 miles below the speed limit for fear of losing control. My doctor had me on Zoloft and it seemed to help, so I stopped taking it and went right back to driving scared! I can't live a normal life without my car! Do I have to take drugs to feel calm?

Dr. Donnica: Anxiety disorders are very common in women. There are five kinds: social phobias, specific phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The good news is that you seem to have a very specific situation in which you have your symptoms; the bad news is that it's in a potentially dangerous situation, which would be a terrible interruption in your lifestyle to have to avoid.

The good news is also that you received medical therapy and it worked! The bad news is (like far too many people with many diverse medical conditions) you stopped taking the medicine you needed because you didn't have the problem anymore and then the same problem recurred! I recommend that you resume taking the medication as your doctor recommended. However, it would be helpful to speak with your doctor about adding psychotherapy sessions specifically addressed at trying to eliminate or to manage the source of your anxiety. Perhaps, if successful, you will be able to minimize the dose of your medication, or even eliminate it entirely someday.

Click here for more information about depression or other mental health issues.

Created: 10/19/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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