Putting a Limit on the Fear of Speed
Simply being nervous in a vehicle traveling at a high speed is absolutely normal, but if you answer yes to all of the questions below you may have an excessive fear of speed.
Do you find it nearly impossible to be inside a fast-moving vehicle?
Are you paralyzed by the thought of going on a roller coaster or any other fast moving thrill rides at a theme park? If the thought of a bicycle going downhill picking up speed terrifies you?
Does the mere thought of racing cars zipping around a track lead to symptoms of a panic attack?
If your answer to these questions is yes, or even maybe, you are may be suffering from tachophobia.
Tachophobia is the fear of Speed.
It can be difficult to deal with the very real terror of getting inside a car, train, or plane. Maybe the simple rumbling of vehicles passing by your house can make you feel anxious and terrified.
For those with a serious case of tachophobia even a brisk walk can make your heart pound more than any basic exercise should, these are extreme examples, but may be real for some with tachophobia.
The irrational fear of moving fast or even seeing objects move quickly can severely limit what you feel like you can do each day. It’s time to put in the self-reflection and the work needed to slowly overcome your fear.
What Is Tachophobia?
Tachophobia originates from the Greek words “tachos,” meaning “speed,” and “Phobos,” meaning “deep dread.” It is an irrational and extreme fear of speed. As it is a specific fear, it is included under the umbrella of anxiety disorders in the DSM-V.
While extreme speed is scary for many people, tachophobics fear even walking or running fast. It can result in anxiety developing into a full-blown panic attack that may require hospitalization.
Sometimes even the mere thought of moving quickly may lead to strong feelings of anxiety and dread. You may find it almost impossible to be in a fast-moving car, a boat, a plane, or any form of transportation that moves faster than walking. You may also be triggered by merely seeing fast-moving objects.
Tachophobia makes day-to-day life quite difficult. You need to work within walking distance from your home because you cannot stomach the thought of getting inside a moving vehicle. If there are no nearby restaurants or grocery stores, family or friends may have to buy all of your necessities for you.
You may have incredibly limited choices when it comes to your livelihood and your place of residence. Creating and maintaining relationships may be difficult if you can’t go anywhere that isn’t within walking distance.
What Causes the Fear of Speed?
Tachophobia can result from a lack of sense of control—fast-moving objects might seem chaotic or erratic. But this isn’t the only reason why people develop this phobia.
As yet, there are no confirmed causes of tachophobia. Here are some factors that can contribute to it:
Some psychology experts say that this phobia can be attributed to a person’s genetic makeup and childhood environment. Both factors play crucial roles in the development of the disorder.
People with a history of mental illness in their family may have a greater chance of developing tachophobia because of the genetic predisposition for anxiety and obsessive disorders.
Apart from family history, a traumatic event may have occurred, leading to full-blown tachophobia.
Were you traumatized after losing a parent or loved one in a fatal car crash caused by speeding? Were you in some type of crash as well, and now you can’t get back in a car or a train? These occurrences are more than enough to sow the seeds of irrational fear.
Unfortunately, there is a dearth of research on unobtrusive phobias similar to tachophobia. Determining why such a phobia can develop can be as difficult as it is with other disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
What Are Common Tachophobia Symptoms?
Like other phobias, those with tachophobia usually tend to experience anxiety when they encounter their fear or even merely think of it.
Phobias emerge in different ways, but some commonalities occur:
● Avoiding places where they might see anything fast-moving (traffic, car racing, amusement parks)
● Deteriorating relationships due to the inability to travel
● Experiencing anxiety while merely thinking about moving quickly
● Intrusive thoughts
● Panicking when watching movie or TV scenes that involve fast vehicles
● Refusing to get into a car, bus, train, plane, or any other moving vehicle
● Refusing to go anywhere that isn’t within walking distance
● Chest pain
● Difficulty breathing
● Increased heart rate
● Muscle tension
Potential Tachophobia Treatments
While people with tachophobia may feel some brief relief when they avoid fast-moving objects, their condition may worsen in the long run if they continue believing that speed is something to be feared.
The treatment of any illness or disease begins by eliminating the root cause. As there is no specific known cause for developing tachophobia, there is no particular treatment designed to cure this phobia of speed.
You can explore the following tachophobia treatments to deal with your symptoms:
Meditation and Mindfulness
When you feel the fear of speed creeping in, consciously apply simple relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing. Practice mindfulness by investigating the root cause of your fear and reversing your negative associations with it.
Simple exercise can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. You can boost your endorphin levels and focus on something else in the meantime—cardio and strength training can help you feel more centered and able to deal with your fears.
Professional Help for Tachophobia
Exposure therapy involves being exposed to the source of fear to make the triggering factor ineffective over time. Work with an experienced therapist to ensure that this is the proper treatment for you and that you will not be exposed too much too soon.
The ultimate goal is for the patient to cope with the exposure to speed until it leads to little to no irrational anxiety.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy meant for people struggling with emotion regulation. It centers on mindfulness and acceptance of experiences.
The treatment begins with understanding and acknowledging your irrational fear without judging your emotional response to certain situations. You will learn to observe your emotions and identify your triggers, which will help you develop mechanisms to alter the feelings that are not helpful.
With DBT, you can learn to act opposite to what your irrational fear urges you to do. Your emotion regulation skills will help you change your reaction to your triggers.
In extreme cases of tachophobia, patients may be administered anti-anxiety medication after consultation with a medical professional.
Medication can help reduce the intensity of anxiety and panic attacks. However, taking medication alone is not enough to eliminate this condition.
Coping with Tachophobia
If you are diagnosed with a phobia, it is vital to seek treatment. Overcoming phobias can be difficult, but it is not impossible, no matter how irrational or extreme you may think it is.
You should never be afraid or embarrassed about seeking help. The right treatment can help you learn to manage your fears and lead a productive and fulfilling life.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is a fantastic resource for those looking for help. They offer a helpful resource for locating a therapist, along with a range of talks on how to overcome specific phobias.
Phobias are a source of genuine distress for many individuals. Luckily, many types of treatments are available. You just have to be willing to get to the root of your fears and seek the help you need.