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Q. What are the ways to control anxiety while driving?

Answered by
Dr. K V Anand
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 21, 2019 and last reviewed on: Jun 22, 2019

Hello doctor,

I have been suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder- OCD, fear of germs, ordering things, obsessive thoughts. I also have anxiety while driving car at higher speeds. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is lined to general stress, anxiety levels, which causes the muscles to be held tight. I have been able to accomplish most of the daily tasks and be successful in life. However, the anxiety while driving is troubling me. I need to reduce anxiety while driving, while also maintaining focus. Also, the general level of anxiety or stress is causing other physical ailments. Due to muscles being in constant state of tension. Currently, I do not take any medication. Only supplements 5-HTP (Seratonin) and one sleep aid (Melatonin).

Dr. K V Anand

Psychiatry Psychologist/ Counsellor Sexology


Welcome to

I understand you experience OCD symptoms, general anxiety symptoms and specific driving anxiety and some anxiety related physical problems. What is your current profession? Your job timings? Family members? For how many years you are having 0CD symptoms? GAD symptoms? Stress? Why? Exercise? Relaxation? Any therapy? Family support? Any other anxiety triggering factors than driving? Sleep? Physical intimacy? Please reply. Take care.

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Thank you doctor,

Following are the answers to the questions:

What is your current profession? Software engineer and investor.

Your job timings? 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Family members? Three.

How many years you have had 0CD symptoms? As far as I can remember, about 20 years.

GAD symptoms? Yes, now that you have mentioned it. Symptoms seems to be more GAD than OCD.

Stress- mainly mental stress and worry. Just day to day problems. Nothing extraordinary here, it is just that I tend to hold the stress in the body. 30 minutes light exercise.

Relaxation? Just TV. No therapy. Family support is fine.

Any other anxiety triggering factors than driving? Minor anxiety here and there, but everything is under control. At present it is the driving that is bothering me.

Sleep? 8 hours.

Physical intimacy? Satisfactory.

Dr. K V Anand

Psychiatry Psychologist/ Counsellor Sexology


Welcome back to

I am astonished as well as very happy to know that you are experiencing OCD symptoms for the last 20 years and for the time being you are managing those symptoms without the help of medicines. Managing yourself. You have got the courage and attitude. Salute for that.

According to you, your present problem is mainly driving anxiety. Such an anxiety is, though specific, comes under GAD. So, the treatment should be based on the trigger.

Your trigger is your vehicle or any other vehicle, travelling or thinking about driving or travelling. You already know, vehicle is not at all the factor which triggers your apprehension or anxiety. Whereas it is your thought pattern and the fear arising out of your thought pattern. So, therapy aims at cognitive restructuring. Change the thought pattern so that the thought do not give rise to anxiety or apprehension. For this, you have to start writing a cognitive diary. On the left side of the diary you will write the trigger, reason, anxiety symptom, timing, etc., in detail. At the right hand side you will logically conclude it as it is not at all a botheration for you. For example, for the driving anxiety, at the right hand side, you will write "driving was never a trouble for me and I being a good driver, I enjoy driving. This anxiety symptoms are triggered by my mind and not because I actually fear my vehicle or my driving. I have confidence in my driving and I am confident in handling the vehicle. So I am not going to worry about the anxiety at all."

Hope you already know that anxiety is your body's defense mechanism. This diary writing will help convincing your unconscious mind. You will have to write different fears and convincing logical conclusion for that for about two weeks every day. Please do not take this lightly. You are only 41 and therefore, please start some rigorous exercises or outdoor games which makes you sweat. Such exercises trigger production of feel good hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Long term they help you overcome whole anxiety.

You should learn and try mindfulness. Such techniques teach you how to be engaged mentally to whatever task you are doing and thereby helping managing anxiety. Take care.

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