You said that your symptoms are undiagnosed. That would suggest that you have not consulted a mental health professional. Therein lies the main problem.
Before, we look at the more serious possible causes, I would like to mention two things in general. First, you may be describing an altered state of consciousness (ASC). ASC’s are natural events. You may experience them when falling asleep. or reading a book, or meditating or when watching a movie. Second, highway hypnosis is a well known phenomenon. You mention that these experiences do occur when you are driving. You can research this but it would be best to look at all possible causes, for what you are experiencing, with a therapist.
You might be describing symptoms of a panic attack or possibly a medical condition but an evaluation would be necessary to determine what’s wrong. It would be advantageous to consult a mental health professional, especially because this has become a “crippling phenomenon.” Now is the time to seek help.
It’s important to address why you might have waited so long to seek help. One of the most common reasons is fear. People fear the unknown. Mental health professionals want to help you. They undergo years of rigorous training to help people with the kinds of problems you are describing. They want to help but you must be willing to ask for their help.
Another common reason people don’t seek help is shame. Many people mistakenly believe that they “should” be able to solve their own problems. No one is born with problem solving skills. Just like any other acquired skill, they have to be learned. You can learn them in counseling.
I hope that you will strongly consider seeking help. There’s no reason to suffer from “crippling” symptoms when good treatments are available. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle