Why Do I Have Panic Attacks When I Drive?

Thursday, 06 Jun 2013 10:21 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I recently started suffering panic attacks. They seem to happen most often when I am driving. Does this mean I will constantly be this way and may even have a disorder that should be treated?

Dr. Hibberd’s answer:

Panic attacks that are limited to certain settings are eminently treatable by cognitive behavioral therapy.

You should consult a psychiatrist experienced in CBT techniques (not many are), and in the meantime, see your primary-care physician for some preventive management until you have a good handle on controlling this without prescription drugs.

Inderal works very well for mild situation-induced stage fright and may be worth a try before using tranquilizers that may affect your ability to drive. Some antidepressants, such as Lexapro have excellent anxiety-relieving effects without the sedation seen with Valium or Xanax.

If your symptoms are concerning enough for you to ask about treatment, they are indeed worth treating.

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