Amaxophobia (also called hamaxophobia) makes you feel anxious or fearful when you drive or ride in a vehicle, such as a car, bus or plane. With it, you have a fear of driving and may also get anxious being a passenger. This fear can interfere with work, socializing and travel. Exposure therapy, a type of psychotherapy, helps people overcome amaxophobia.
People who have amaxophobia have a fear of driving or being a passenger in a car or other vehicle. Someone with amaxophobia may have such extreme anxiety or fear at the thought of being in a vehicle that they’re unable to get to work, stores and other places.
“Amaxa” (or “hamaxa”) is the Greek word for carriage. Phobia means fear. Someone with a fear of driving or riding in a vehicle is amaxophobic. Amaxophobia is also called:
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. They cause an extreme fearful reaction to something that isn’t actually harmful.
Amaxophobia is a specific phobic disorder. A specific object (a vehicle) or situation (driving or riding in a vehicle) brings on a fearful response.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like amaxophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. About 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives.
Someone with amaxophobia may be:
A person with amaxophobia is afraid of getting injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. They don’t necessarily have a fear of driving or being a passenger. They may fixate on statistics about car accidents or plane crashes.
You’re more likely to develop amaxophobia or a different type of specific phobic disorder if you already have:
Two phobias closely linked to amaxophobia include:
Potential amaxophobia causes include:
Any type of vehicle — cars, trains, subways, buses, boats or planes — may bring on amaxophobia.
Amaxophobia triggers include:
Amaxophobia symptoms can range from mild to extreme. They include:
If amaxophobia disrupts your life, your healthcare provider may recommend seeing a mental health professional like a psychologist. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t recognize amaxophobia as a phobic disorder. But a psychologist may make a diagnosis after evaluating your symptoms.
You may have a specific phobic disorder if the fear:
Exposure therapy with a mental health professional helps many people overcome amaxophobia. As many as 9 in 10 people with specific phobias see symptom improvements after getting this type of psychotherapy (talk therapy). Exposure therapy involves steady exposures to images or situations that trigger symptoms.
During exposure therapy, you:
Other techniques to overcome amaxophobia include:
Severe amaxophobia can affect your quality of life. You may struggle to get to work, shop or attend social events. It can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to travel to see family, friends or go on vacation.
Some people experience panic attacks, which cause non-cardiac chest pain, racing heart rate and symptoms like a heart attack. Persistent worries about having panic attacks can lead to a panic disorder that requires the long-term use of anti-anxiety medications.
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Phobias like amaxophobia can get worse when untreated. You may find yourself unable to work, spending less time with loved ones and missing out on life. An inability to drive or ride in a vehicle can greatly diminish your independence and quality of life. Speak to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Your provider can connect you with a mental health professional who has experience with exposure therapy. Many people can overcome amaxophobia with help.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/23/2022.
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