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Panic Disorders Message Board

Panic Disorders Board Index

Hello all, I am 21. In 2004 one week after I had turned 19, I was driving with a friend on a two-lane highway about 20 miles from town. It was raining and I was in the passenger seat. We're both responsible and she is a good driver. We weren't even talking but we both somehow looked just in time to see a stopped SUV in front of us getting ready to turn. She either couldn't or didn't stop and instead of swerving into the grass, swerved into the oncoming lane. We hit another SUV head-on with both vehicles going 70 (we were in a car, a Sunfire). She had quite serious injuries and didn't retain any memory of the accident. I had moderate injuries to my legs and feet but I remained about 50% conscious through the crash. Maybe that's my problem.

I had nightmares, couldn't drive myself for quite a while and now, 2.5 years later, if I ride in the passenger seat I have panic attacks. I don't leave town. I went on a 3-hour trip to the city with a friend a couple years ago and had several panic attacks, having to stop the car. I'm absolutely terrified of riding in cars and it's wrecking daily life for me. I don't know what to do. I can't be the only one affected by a horrible car crash this way.

Have you gone through this? How do you deal with it?
I haven't gone through this but I can offer you some advice..

My sister had gotten into a car accident a few years ago, and sometimes when I'm driving with her, and a car will slam on its breaks in front of me, she will start hyperventilating.

What she did after the accident was ease into driving again. Just go on small trips, let the driver know your situation, and eventually you will be fine. Breathe slowly and relax when you start to feel panic.. Irrationalize it in your head. Tell yourself that you will be fine.. I think it will take a while and you still might feel a little bit of panic sometimes (like my sister) but I hope it helps at least a little.
If you haven't tried it already, therapy may be in order. Talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, basically anything to help you. I was in a less serious car accident 4 months ago (I was alone in the car, a Fedex guy hit my car from behind at like 55mph and pushed me into the car in front of me; I was stopped because of an accident on the freeway, my car was totaled and my back and neck were kinda screwed up, but I wasn't seriously injured). I have had panic attacks for years, but I definitely noticed an increase in attacks after the accident. I'm 31, and I've had an increase in attacks after very stressful life events. I think if you get some counseling you may be able to conquer this fear and relax a bit more, because let's face it, we all pretty much have to drive or ride in automobiles. Take care.

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