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Not sure if my latest issue with my driving phobia was due to effexor withdrawl, PTSD, or freaking out about nothing

A year ago I got into a very bad car accident with my son where we both were hospitalized due to injuries. I have been trying to get over this car accident for quite awhile and have developed PTSD and my anxiety has worsened. I had to go back unto my antidepressants due the issues I had. I also have had problems driving because I am scared to get in another accident or cause myself or somebody else to die. Just a few months ago I started feeling a lot better and I was able to actually drive with too many problems. I wanted to get off my antidepressants to see how I handled it and because I wanted to get pregnant with my third child. My doctor at first said let’s wait until spring and then when spring came around he gave me a prescription for 6 more months. I was pretty unhappy and since I don’t have insurance to see another doctor I decided to wean myself off it. My former doctor that I had with insurance said to take my medication, Effexor 150 mg every two days for a week, then every three days for a week, and so on until I was off it. I started doing this since I didn’t have a prescription for the lower doses of Effexor. So the other day I decided to go out and drive to the grocery store. I felt fine and so as I was driving I saw two men standing on the sidewalk. They looked like they were standing there and not ready to cross the street. As I started getting closer, they all of a sudden started walking across the street. I looked over and saw a car waiting for them to cross. I wondered why they were crossing the street and I didn’t stop. Then, as I got even closer to them they stopped realizing I wasn’t going to stop for them. I realized after going past them it was a crosswalk but I couldn’t tell due to the faded paint and since many other people just jaywalked around that area and yielded to oncoming traffic. I didn’t want to hurt them but I felt like I was frozen due to the shock of them deciding to cross and not yield to me and could not put my foot on the brake. I have been upset about this for awhile and unsure what to do about it. I am afraid what would have happened if I had hit them. My husband says that I have been worried about this situation too long and it is not normal. I want to move on with my life and do the things I want to. I can’t have more children with Effexor and I don’t know how much it has helped me overcome my fear of driving. I don’t have insurance to go to a counselor and I feel like I am stuck. I have no idea if this latest issue with driving was because of an effexor withdrawal, PTSD, or it wasn’t that major of an issue. I just don’t know what steps I should take in order to move on with my life. My anxiety and driving phobia has made me feel like a recluse and that I don’t feel like I am progressing in life.


Answered by on -


I’m so sorry you are having these reactions. PTSD can be a tricky thing to cope with. I would highly recommend you seek out and treatment known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR. It seems very reasonable to assume that since your reactions took place while you were driving that driving is a big part of the dilemma. The events that were happening during the time of the trauma or often involves triggering off her reaction.

I would trust your doctor says you move through this time and keep giving them feedback about your symptoms and concerns. At the same time, I would find a therapist training EMDR to see if this can help.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral


Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). PTSD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 4 Jun 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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