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PTSD from Car Accidents (Vehophobia)

Phobias are associated with an irrational fear that people have or carry with them. Vehophobia is the fear of driving. Why would someone fear driving?  In many cases, the fear stems from a traumatic injury in a previous car crash.   Call it vehophobia or call it PTSD the result is the same: severe anxiety getting into a motor vehicle.

From a car accident attorney’s perspective, emotional harm is the single biggest harm in the vast majority of our cases.  So the PTSD that stems from car accident is right along the line of the damages bring in these lawsuits.  Is this harm correlated to the severity of the crash?  It generally is.  But regardless of the severity of a car accident, vehophobia is a very real and prevalent issue many people experience after enduring car accident.

What Is Vehophobia?

The fear of driving after a car accident is technically a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD, which is most commonly associated with war veterans, actually can be set off by any terrifying incident, including the trauma of almost dying or being in a serious car accident.

The fear of driving persists long after the initial car crash for many different and unique reasons. However, there are some general ideas behind vehophobia that prevent people from driving:

  • Fear that they will get into another accident
  • Suffering from extreme and crippling anxiety
  • Fear that they will suffer a panic attack while operating the car, resulting in another accident
  • Fear that they may harm or kill their children or family.

Regardless of the reason, the results can be extremely debilitating and can alter someone’s life. Your doctor may recommend a combination of medication and psychotherapy, but your psychological injuries may be increasingly challenging to recover from. If your injury impacts your ability to drive, it may limit or alter your life in significant ways. This is why such injuries are compensable when the collision is the fault of someone else’s negligence.

If you or someone you know is suffering from vehophobia, you know that it may manifest itself in very different ways. This form of PTSD can cause someone to experience mood disorders and depression that drastically affect their day-to-day life. Some of the most common effects caused by vehophobia and PTSD induced depression are:

  • Loss of the ability to fall asleep;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Lack of memory;
  • Inability to focus; and
  • Increased anxiety.

How Do I Get Past My Venophobia

When venophobia symptoms interfere with your ability to drive or function altogether, finding the right treatment is vital to your recovery. There are four main tools: therapy, driving courses, support groups and mediation. These tools explained below may allow you or a loved one to get life back on track post-accident.

  • Work with a therapist – There are several types of therapy that a therapist might employ to help treat your vehophobia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments. This therapy helps an individual alter their thought patterns and behaviors so they can move on from their trauma. Other forms of treatment such as prolonged exposure therapy may also be effective. This therapy consists of a patient re-experiencing the traumatic event through visiting the painful memory and through real exposure to the fear. Either or additional therapy are extremely effective in allowing you or a loved one to recover.
  • Take a defensive driving course – Taking a defensive driving course may help you get used to driving again.  This is useful even if the accident was not your fault.  It can just give you the confidence you need to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.   Under the guidance of a trained and experienced driving instructor, you may regain your ability to react calmly to stressful conditions and feel more confident behind the wheel again.
  • Support groups – There are support groups available for all forms of PTSD, including Vehophobia. Talking through your fears with a group of people who can relate to your experience can be helpful.
  • Medication – Your doctor can work with you to determine if medications could be effective for your unique combination of symptoms. Medication can be a useful tool for reducing the impact of traumatic anxiety. Those taking medication should also attend regular therapy sessions to help heal and recover more sustainably.