Many people regard tunnels as dangerous places to drive a car. But the truth is, tunnels are actually safe, thanks to the absence of strong winds, rain, snow, and traffic. Plus, tunnels usually have surveillance cameras that are closely monitored by authorities.But, for different reasons, many people cannot overcome fear of driving through tunnels. This anxiety in going through tunnels is called “tunnel phobia”, and it is not a popularly known term. In fact, only around 3% of the human population suffers from this condition.
What causes tunnel phobia?
Tunnel phobia is not something that you can easily push aside. Some people who suffer from this condition do not get treatment or refuses to do anything to overcome their phobia. That is mainly because they argue that they can easily avoid driving through tunnels. But, like other anxiety disorders, you need to deal with it and face it head on before it complicates. For the minor population who have tunnel phobia, they have various reasons foe fearing tunnels.
Long and suffocating
Tunnels are indeed long, and you feel suffocated by them. This could stem from a claustrophobic condition, where you hate being in a closely confined space.
Scared of ghosts
If you are fond of horror movies, you know that tunnels are often locations for ghost scenes.But if you love ghost movies and hate to come in contact with one, you probably are very scared to come near a tunnel.
Maybe you have fear of driving inside a tunnel because of a traumatic incident in your past that involved a tunnel.If this is the case, then it is quite understandable. But it does not mean that you should not face your fears.
A traumatic experience unrelated to tunnels is also possible. You could have experienced getting stuck in an elevator for hours, and your claustrophobia started at that moment. It could also be that you received a punishment from your parents where you were locked in a closed space to teach you a lesson. Or, you fear of closed spaces could come from a personal experience of terrible airplane turbulence.
Fear of collapse
In the open road, there are no walls or roofs. But inside a tunnel, your fear could come from the fact that the roof could cave in, or the walls could collapse. Though tunnels are built with extreme precision and durability, there is still a possibility that your fears can come true. But what you need to understand is that the chances are pretty slim.
Fear of drowning
There are tunnels that run underwater, and you feel very anxious because you have fear of drowning. Though it is unlikely that the underwater tunnel will collapse while you drive, you still cannot shake that ominous feeling.
Symptoms of tunnel anxiety
Tunnel phobia or tunnel anxiety is an uncommon disorder that manifests when you are near or inside a tunnel while driving. You feel extremely apprehensive even at the sight of a tunnel, and you start to sweat. Breathing becomes very difficult, and you seem to lose your control. You barely notice that you are shaking badly, since you are highly focused on your fear of driving in a tunnel. And when the dizzying feeling strikes, you lose all poise and panic takes over your whole mind and body. And you know, right then, that you have tunnel anxiety.
Overcoming tunnel phobia
You cannot avoid tunnels forever, and it is not healthy to keep ignoring your tunnel phobia. Seek professional help, and begin your treatment. The following are common treatment methods for driving fear in tunnels.
This method of treatment focuses on controlling your response to tunnel driving. The systematic desensitization is a popular technique to treat phobias, and it can definitely help get rid of your tunnel anxiety. It involves the process of bringing you to a state of physical relaxation.In this therapy, you will be taught how to substitute your fear of driving through tunnels with a relaxed physical response.
CBT is a tunnel anxiety treatment method that involves helping you determine the thoughts that comes to your head as a response to your tunnel phobia. You will learn how to isolate the negative thoughts and replace them with positive and realistic thoughts and actions. This method is very effective since you learn to let go of irrational thought with positive ones.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
EMDR is usually utilized for patients with PTSD, but it is also proven to be effective in treating tunnel anxiety.It is believed that fear of driving through tunnels stems from a traumatic event in a person’s life. And so by dealing with the distressing experience, you can find the strength to fight your demons and emerge victorious.
You have to understand that tunnel phobia can also be caused by physical trauma, and not just psychological trauma. Your body may have been subjected to severe pain that causes you to fear going through a tunnel using your car.You should undergo physiological therapy in order to make your body ready and equipped with the strength to overcome your fear.
When you are approaching a tunnel, it is best to pull over on the side of the road and engage in a simple breathing exercise. Spend ten minutes or more to inhale through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Continue your breathing exercises until you are composed enough to go through the tunnel. Focus on what is real, and not on what you imagine things to be.
Your fear of driving through a tunnel is an unpleasant and highly inconvenient condition.But if persevere, you can beat your anxiety and live a full life. If it becomes very difficult for you to function because of your driving phobia, you must consult a professional. It is best to ask for an expert’s guidance than suffer the consequences of fear.