Also known as hamaxophobia and ochophobia, amaxophobia is an intense fear of sitting or traveling in any type of moving vehicle. While somewhat rare, phobias of this type are particularly debilitating in today’s world. Since the condition impacts the ability to travel in just about any form other than walking, people who suffer with amaxophobia are often confined to home or limit their movements to locations that are within easy walking distance of the home.
There are some extreme situations where the definition extends to just about any type of travel outside the home. There are those who believe in order to properly define the term, it is also necessary to include people who have an innate and powerful fear of walking. However, there is a difference of opinion on this definition among health care professionals.
As with many phobias, an individual dealing with this condition will often exhibit a state of extreme agitation when confronted with the necessity of traveling in any type of vehicle. The degree of agitation may range anywhere from a highly excited state where the nerves seem to be on edge for the duration of the trip to states where it is impossible to travel without sedation. The various symptoms for amaxophobia include an inability to breathe, rapid heart rate, the onset of panic attacks, a sense of about to lose sanity, and even a strong feeling of impending death.
Amaxophobia treatments are often a combination of psychotherapy and drug therapy. Since many of the symptoms for the phobia are similar to those dealing with anxiety disorders, it is not unusual for a physician to prescribe a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication. Along with drugs, seeking counseling can also help to uncover the root causes for the development of the phobia, and thus offer amaxophobics the potential to eventually overcome the condition and no longer require medication in order to make a quick trip by car, subway, or other means.
While the exact structure of any treatment series will vary according to the needs of the patient, the ultimate goal of all forms of treatment is to relieve the symptoms associated with the condition and re-train the mind to view vehicular travel as something that is completely non-threatening. As with the treatment of many emotional and mental conditions, the treatments normally take some time to begin having a lasting impact on the patient. During this period, loved ones should be mindful that while the amaxophobic may be able to make a car trip with relative ease today, that is no guarantee that the same will be true tomorrow.
People suffering with this phobia should also not become discouraged if progress seems to be slow or even reverses from time to time. This is normal with the treatment of many phobias, including amaxophobia. By sticking with the therapy, it is possible to eventually be free of the fear and anxiety and be able to travel with a sense of anticipation rather than extreme fear.