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Would A Phobia Be Considered A Mental Illness?

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  • Would A Phobia Be Considered A Mental Illness?

    I hope so, because this problem seems mental.

    I'm seventeen and I've got my drivers lisence. I never actually wanted to drive, but I accepted it. But after my road test, I was so terrified to ever actually drive. My friends, unfortunately, know about my phobia and find it hilarious. This morning, I have to drive to school (not too far, but I have to take a busy road) and at first, I was just shakey and nervous. The usual symptoms I get. But then, I started to try and relax, but instead started to cry these huge tears of terror. I dont know whats happening to me. I want to be able to drive but I'm so terrified of I dont even know what.

    I know I'm a good driver, since I passed my road test. But I've figured that I'm so nervous because its my moms car (she went to work early this morning for something so my dad took her on his way) and because I was in an accident when I was in the 7th grade. No injuries to anybody, but my dad's car got totaled.

    I would like to add that after I typed all of this up, I seemed to calm down IMMENSLEY.
    Last edited by TeenageDream; 05-10-2011, 06:51 AM.

  • This is just mental, not a real phobia, if it were a real phobia you would not have been able to get your license in the first place due to sheer terror and nervousness. You are simply nervous, driving can be a scary thing especially when you are too nervous to try and get used to it. I am sure everyone when they started to drive was nervous, but it just takes some practice and you will gain confidence. It is better to just take it easy and just gain your confidence by driving to places that do not cause a lot of alarm from traffic, say driving to a nearby convenience store so there is not so much traffic. Or to a nearby park so you can take a walk, just things that are close by so you can gain that confidence without needing to jump right into a busy road.
    There are those who believe that dictionaries should not merely reflect the times but also protect English from the mindless assaults of the trendy.

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    • I remember the very first time I drove. Living on a farm, I had to drive at an early age. I was 8 and on a tractor, I was scared to death, I thought I would freeze up and wreck. It was nerve wracking at first. Soon after that, I was driving big grain trucks on the road. Practice with very little traffic as stated above and celebrate the little things you can do. Take a short trip and celebrate with a treat of an ice cream cone or a favorite type of treat you don't always get. Soon, you will be a lot more confident and ready for bigger and better things. It sounds like you are a very good driver now. Only bad drivers don't get nervous before driving at first. Just hang in there and don't let little things get you down. You are growing up and this is a way to get a little freedom and try out those angel wings!

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      • I think for someone who was in an auto accident, even though no one was hurt, what you're experiencing is purely fear. There's no real "phobia" so to speak...more so a fear of something you're not very comfortable with yet. I didn't want to get my drivers license when I turned 16. I remember thinking how hard it would be to keep my car in between the lines (lol...seems funny now) and now would I know if I got too close to another vehicle on the road, and what if someone hit me? I didn't feel confident in it therefore I feared it immensely.

        You were on a busy road, something new for you, something scary for you, and it was stressful. No biggie...I have no doubt you'll totally get past this. One of these days you'll be driving down the road like I do, remembering back to your old feelings of being so scared to drive.
        "Be what you're looking for."

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        • Phobias

          I am a Master's student working towards my degree in Psychological Counseling and getting my license as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor). According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), a Specific Phobia is defined as: "marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable, cued by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation; exposure to the phobic stimulus (i.e. driving in your case) almost invaribly provokes an immediate anxiety response, which may take the form of a situationally bound or situationally predisposed Panic Attack; the phobic situation is avoided or else is endured with intense anxiety or distress." I know that sounds very formal and maybe confusing, but what you are experiencing with driving is a phobia. However, it's not about putting a "label" on it. It's more about you learning to cope with it, and hopefully, overcome it. If you want to try to overcome it on your own, I would suggest maybe driving with someone that you feel safe and comfortable with that can guide you through it. Maybe your mom or dad would be a good choice. A car full of friends would probably not be best, especially if they are loud or might tease you because of your fear. Try to focus your thoughts on the driving and what you are actually doing at the time. Focus on the road, on making proper turns, staying under the speed limit, etc. Try to avoid thinking about what could happen and what you fear may happen; focus on the present. If you do start to freak out a little and feel anxious or afraid, try what is called "3-3-3." You breathe in for 3 seconds, hold your breathe in for 3 seconds, and exhale for 3 seconds. This can help to calm your anxiety and keep you focused on driving. Try to practice driving as much as possible and use these techniques, so you can get more comfortable with it. Don't only try driving when you have to be somewhere, like school. If none of these things help, and your fear or anxiety does not go away in a few months or gets worse, you may think about seeing a therapist to help you with it. That doesn't mean you're crazy, have psychological issues, or that something is wrong with you. It just means you need some extra help in this one little area. Phobias are EXTREMELY common and people see therapists for them every single day, so you are not the only one that deals with stuff like this! Sorry this is so long, but I hope this helps. You can message me if you need any more advice. Many blessings to you!

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