Amaxophobia is the irrational fear of riding in a car. People suffering from this condition will find it extremely difficult to ride in a car for even a short amount of time. The mere thought of them riding in a car may be so anxiety provoking that the mere thought of doing so may give them a very high influx of unwanted anxiety. Even worse, they may constantly remind themselves of the many potential dangers of riding in a car by dwelling on the statistics of car accidents.
Someone suffering from full blown amaxophobia will have difficulty with thinking reasonably about their fear of riding in a car. Such an inability to realize that their anxieties are largely irrational and out of touch with reality is a big reason as to why they suffer to the extent that they do.
This irrational fear may motivate them to try to avoid riding in a car as much as possible. This may make their life much more difficult than it otherwise would have been due to them refusing to ride in a car.
Amaxophobia may not be much of a problem for people living in more rural areas where vehicles are not commonplace. In contrast, someone living in a large city suffering from amaxophobia may have an extremely difficult time with coping with their anxiety as merely seeing a car drive on the street may make them think of what it’s like to ride in a car, thus giving them high amounts of anxiety.
Symptoms of Amaxophobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, anxiety will be the main symptom experienced with amaxophobia. In fact, in some extreme cases the anxiety that they experience from their fear of riding in a car may cause them to experience full blown panic attacks. It may also not be uncommon for them to also experience symptoms of claustrophobia when riding in a vehicle as well.
Someone suffering from full blown amaxophobia will likely have a very difficult time with getting to places that they need to get to. For example, it may be quite challenging for them to get groceries or to see their doctor if they have an intense fear of riding in a car. This may force them to ride a bike or walk, which may not be practical depending on where they live.
So, unlike many other phobias, amaxophobia can make acquiring certain services and products to be quite difficult, thus increasing their anxiety. In an attempt to limit as much anxiety as they possibly can from their amaxophobia, they may try to avoid riding in cars or even being near them, thus causing them to be somewhat isolated. However, this will vary from person to person.
Below, you will see some more common symptoms of this phobia:
- Intense anxiety when riding in a car
- Anxiety when thinking of riding in a car
- Actively avoiding riding in a car
- Unable to cope with their anxiety
- Muscle tension, sweating, and shakiness
- May experience panic attacks
Causes of Amaxophobia
As is the case with virtually all other phobias, someone may develop amaxophobia due to genetics and environmental factors. For instance, if someone were to have a family history of mental illness, especially of phobias, then they may have a higher risk for developing an irrational fear of riding in a car. This increased risk may be due to them having a genetic predisposition to developing mental illness in general.
However, even though you may have a family history of mental health issues, this does not therefore mean that you definitively have a genetic predisposition to develop mental illness. It just means that you may have a higher chance of this being the case.
If someone were to have such a genetic predisposition, then it may only take them experiencing some sort of traumatic event for them to develop full blown amaxophobia. For example, someone being in a very serious car accident may eventually develop a deep fear of riding in a car. This fear may be due to their distrust of anyone but themselves driving a car or perhaps they may be merely fearful of how vulnerable they are in a car, among other reasons.
Though we do not know the exact cause of amaxophobia, there is a consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and environmental factors play significant roles in the development of virtually any given mental disorder. So, taking a closer look at these two different parameters may shed some light as to whether or not you are at risk for developing an irrational fear of riding in a car.
Exposure therapy may be one of the most effective forms of treatment for someone suffering from amaxophobia. Exposure therapy works by having the therapist gradually expose the patient to their fear over a given period of time. With regards to treating someone’s irrational fear of riding in a car, the therapist may expose the patient to their fear by having them ride in a car in the parking lot or something analogously safe.
Though exposing the patient to their fear will in fact give them an influx of unwanted anxiety, doing to is thought to help them become desensitized to their fear. So, theoretically speaking, the more someone is exposed to that which they fear, the less it will bother them over time. Such a strategy may be effective for treating amaxophobia.
Besides exposure therapy, anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants may also be effective at helping to reduce someone’s symptoms of amaxophobia. However, merely taking medication alone without any sort of exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy may not be effective for long term treatment. Be that as it may, you should still talk to your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure the safety and effectiveness of those types of medications.
Yoga Poses for Amaxophobia
There are numerous different yoga poses that can substantially benefit someone who is suffering from amaxophobia. In part, this is due to the meditative state of mind that yoga tends to emit in those who practice it on a consistent basis. Yoga can be thought of as meditation in motion. It can help to relieve some of the anxiety associated with amaxophobia due to the mere fact that by engaging in yoga, your attention will be redirected to something more productive.
There are many different types of yoga that someone with amaxophobia can benefit from, such as hatha yoga or hot yoga, among many others. Nevertheless, regardless of the many different forms of yoga that exist, virtually all of them can help to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with amaxophobia.
If you have never practiced yoga before, then it may be in your best interest to take a class or watch some guided videos that can help you through each pose. Just like with meditation, the more you practice yoga, the more adept you will become at it. Besides helping you to reduce your symptoms of amaxophobia, you can also expect to acquire increased strength and flexibility, among other benefits.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Amaxophobia
MBSR is an 8-week evidence-based program that offers secular, intensive mindfulness training to help people who are suffering from anxiety, stress, depression, and other sorts of mental anguish. MBSR may be able to significantly help someone who is suffering from amaxophobia as mindfulness meditation has been shown to be very beneficial for anxious people. In such a structured program, someone with amaxophobia can expect to learn a plethora of different skills that can help them to relieve the intense anxiety that’s associated with their specific phobia.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to see if MBSR can help you to reduce the intensity of your symptoms of amaxophobia, as well as where to find MBSR programs in your area.
Meditation for Amaxophobia
There are many different forms of meditation that exists which can be very advantageous for someone suffering from amaxophobia. Specifically, mindfulness meditation has been shown to be quite beneficial for helping people to enter into a more equanimous state. There are many different ways with which you can implement mindfulness meditation and there are also many different meditation apps which are designed to make things as easy as possible for you.
Mindfulness has the potential to significantly help those suffering from amaxophobia due to how it will help one to distract themselves from their fear by refocusing their attention onto something else that does not have any sort of emotional baggage attached to it, such as by focusing on the breath for example. This is one of the most basic ways that one can meditate and be present.
For someone with amaxophobia in the midst of a panic attack, redirecting one’s attention to the various sensations felt when breathing can actually help to reduce the amount of mental anguish experienced during such an influx of anxiety.
To implement mindfulness meditation to help relieve one’s symptoms of amaxophobia, you can do so by paying close attention to the way the muscles in your abdomen and chest contract and relax with every inhale and exhale. You can spend time dwelling on how it feels as your chest expands during each inhale and how it sinks in with every exhale.
Besides focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on the sounds around you, the way your skin feels as you touch certain objects, the way foods taste, as well as the way certain aromas smell. Essentially, honing into your 5 senses can significantly help you to reduce some of the anxiety that is associated with amaxophobia. Also, remember that it will take a lot of practice to become an adept meditator. So, practice is key.
Exposure Therapy for Amaxophobia
As previously mentioned, exposure therapy is one of the most common ways to treat anxiety disorders such as amaxophobia. It can be an efficient way to help desensitize the patient to their specific fears. Be that as it may, it is imperative that the therapist implementing it on their patient is very adept at doing so. For example, if the therapist were to slightly expose someone with amaxophobia to their fear, then it may not be very effective as they may need a higher amount of exposure to truly trigger any sort of worthwhile change in the patient.
The same can be said for the antithesis of this scenario. If the therapist were to excessively expose someone with amaxophobia to their fear, then doing so could be highly counterproductive to the point to where their amaxophobia may become immensely worse due to the therapy alone. So, it is paramount that the therapist implementing exposure therapy for someone with amaxophobia has a very strong sense of just how severe their symptoms are so that they can know the level of exposure that the patient will likely be able to handle.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Amaxophobia
CBT is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve one’s mental health. It is a modality that is often used to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. Someone with amaxophobia may also be able to benefit from CBT as well seeing as how it would allow them to have a much better understanding as to why they think and behave the way they do in relation to their irrational fears.
CBT can be immensely helpful for someone with amaxophobia given the sheer automaticity of their symptoms. For example, when someone with amaxophobia is exposed to their fear, they will almost always have an instantaneous subconscious reaction to their fear. Such a lack of introspection is likely a large part of why someone with this condition will suffer to the extent that they will. CBT can help you to take a step back and analyze your fears more deeply than you typically would.
Besides learning to be more fastidious with regards to understanding one’s specific fears, someone with amaxophobia engaging in CBT can also expect to learn various other skills aimed at helping to relieve the anxiety caused by their condition.
Psychiatric Medications for Amaxophobia
These types of medications are very useful to help prevent panic attacks. Such drugs can be extremely useful for people suffering from severe amaxophobia due to the fact that people with phobias often experience panic attacks as well. Some common anti-anxiety medications include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin, among many others.
These types of drugs are not typically taken on a daily basis, but they may be insofar as their amaxophobia is severe enough. However, this is something that you should first discuss with your doctor before you decide to do so to ensure that it is safe and effective.
These types of medications aren’t only for people who suffer from depression as they can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders as well, such as amaxophobia. Some common antidepressants are Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, among several others. These drugs may be able to help reduce some of the symptoms of amaxophobia.
These types of drugs are typically taken on a daily basis. They can indeed help prevent panic attacks from occurring, but they are more so used to help reduce people’s daily anxiety. Talk to your doctor to see if taking antidepressants can help to reduce your symptoms of amaxophobia, as well as whether or not it is safe to do so.
Exercise for Amaxophobia
Exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for people suffering from anxiety disorders, including amaxophobia. Specifically, cardiovascular exercise can significantly help to relieve one’s stress. This is not to say that weight-resistance training would not benefit someone with anxiety, but rather that aerobic exercise is has been shown to be more effective at releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins.
According to the American Psychology Association, exercise can help to condition the mind to better cope with stressful situations. This makes sense when we take into consideration the high amount of stress that the body is put under during strenuous exercise. So, if you yourself are sedentary, then engaging in some form of aerobic exercise may be able to significantly help reduce your symptoms of amaxophobia by making it much easier for you to cope with the anxiety and stress that’s associated with this condition.
There are many different aerobic modalities that you can partake in to help reduce your symptoms of amaxophobia, such as swimming, biking, skiing, walking, and jogging. You can also acquire the many benefits of exercise by playing sports such as tennis, soccer, basketball, and racquetball, among many other sports. Engaging in some form of exercise consistently may be able to help relieve some of the pain associated with amaxophobia over time.
Limiting Caffeine for Amaxophobia
It is no secret that consuming large amounts of caffeine throughout the day can aid in making you more anxious. This makes sense when we look closely at how caffeine affects our body’s physiology. When we consume a high dose of caffeine, our heart will start to beat faster and we become more tense. Essentially, our body will begin to go into a “fight or flight” state of mind. Such a frame of mind is often a precursor for someone with amaxophobia to experience panic attacks.
So, consuming little to no caffeine throughout the day may be able to significantly help reduce your day to day anxiety. Although doing so will likely not make all of your anxiety go away, it will indeed help you to reduce any unnecessary suffering that you would have otherwise experienced if you were to consume a large amount of caffeine.
Beverages like coffee and tea are often high in caffeine, as well as some energy drinks. In fact, even some foods have caffeine in them as well, such as dark chocolate. Being more conscious of your daily caffeine consumption may help you to reduce some of the symptoms associated with amaxophobia.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for Amaxophobia
DBT is a very effective form of treatment for people struggling with emotion regulation. It is often used to treat people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Nevertheless, it can also be very advantageous for someone suffering from anxiety disorders like amaxophobia too. This is due to the numerous amount of coping skills you can expect to learn in a DBT group. These groups typically last about 6 months long and can have anywhere from two people to several people depending on how many join the group.
One very effective DBT skill for helping someone with amaxophobia is half-smiling. This technique works by having you think about that which you fear or upsets you all while slightly raising the corners of your mouth by lightly smiling, thus the term “half-smiling.” Although, it isn’t enough to just think about your fear while half-smiling, you also have to try and refrain from entertaining those painful emotions that your specific fear may evoke.
Mindfulness meditation is also heavily used in DBT and can greatly benefit someone with amaxophobia as it is done in a group setting, which helps to put the patient out of their comfort zone. These group mindfulness practices may include drinking warm tea to hone in on the sense of taste and tactile senses or simply focusing on the breath.
Coping ahead is another very useful DBT skill that can help someone with amaxophobia. With coping ahead, you will want to find a place where you can sit down quietly without distraction. Close your eyes and then think about the many different possible scenarios where you would face your specific fear and overcome it or cope with it. Doing so will help you to be much better adept at coping with your amaxophobia when you are actually exposed to the specific fear associated with it in real life.
If you think you may be suffering from some of the symptoms of this condition, then you may benefit from therapy. Feel free to reach out to your doctor or local mental health clinic to see what your available options are and to see if there is any sort of discount or promo code available to help you with the costs of treatment, as well as if your health insurance will cover treatment costs.