Having terrible anxiety when I drive on highways only

Here goes , Im 34 and have been driving since 19 and I must admit over the years I’ve never felt completely relaxed when driving on the highway but I still manage to do it . I recently got a new car in march so you would think that the least of my problems would be related to driving . Whenever I am on the highway my throat gets dry , my heart starts to beat fast and sometimes my legs tingle and I’d say that this is a new bunch of feeling that feel awful . I do know why I fear the highway , my mind starts going crazy with nothing but negative thoughts I start to think what if that car loses control or what if someone slams into me from behind . What is mind boggling to me is that I’ve always known that accidents happen and I have never been in one so one would wonder why when I drive on highways my mind goes crazy with all these fears . Here’s the catch when my bl is perfect I can get on highway and I do still have those fears but I’m able to rationalize them to keep myself calm . For instance ill tell myself that I will listen to happy songs or keep in mind that as soon as I feel that nervous feeling I will get off at the next exit . For example today was a nightmare I had to take all the side roads cause my nerves were at an all time high . Now when I take side roads I feel great and so calm that I could probably manage to even test my sugar while driving , and when I get on a highway I lose that calm in control feeling . So today after I finally reached my destination which was the gym ( makes me feel better ) i tested my bloodsugar and I was 350 . So I do notice that this anxiety over driving highways is always present but when the sugar is high its the worst .

I get terrible anxiety attacks that are related to BG levels, but it isn't quite as specific as your situation. Any mundane issue on my mind at the time of a hypo incident can turn into an absolute crisis situation that has me practically sobbing with my head in my hands. Something like a deadline for a project that's weeks away can become the most important thing on the planet if it just happens to be on my mind at the time of a hypo. Not in a good, motivational way that helps get it done either. I mean in a "paralyzed by fear of failure and consequence" way that is absolutely crippling.

While I will not attempt anything that is already potentially anxiety inducing, like driving on a California highway, without checking my BG first, situations aren't usually the source of hypo induced anxiety attacks for me. I absolutely hate flying, for example, and it's all I can do to put myself on a plane in the best of circumstances, but I've had hypos while flying that did not induce a panic attack about flying itself, so who knows whats going on with my neuro-psycho-physiology because of my sugar imbalances?

I certainly don't mean to belittle your situation, or be dismissive. Certainly, for me anyway, the anxiety and fear feel more real than practically anything else imaginable. Even knowing the underlying cause of the anxiety attack offers no comfort at all until I am able to stabilize my BG. It really does make me feel empathy for people with physiological imbalances resulting in these types of conditions when they have absolutely no idea of what the underlying cause is.

Still, as a diabetic who does know the underlying cause, I do have tools to deal with it and keep it from becoming another major consequence of bad diabetic control.

​Hi, Marie.

I empathize with your situation. Why does the brain manufacture so many extreme concerns about driving, vehicular velocity, and other drivers?

Driving 120 to 1,000 miles by myself requires me to be alert AND relaxed.
I would be so tense whilst driving on highways, my leg, arm, back, and hand muscles would cramp.

Afraid to have my glucose get too high, it would drop to an insufficient level for dealing with heavy traffic which I work very hard to avoid. Therefore, I plan my trips through notoriously cuckoo cities at odd times.

1) If at all possible, plan your trips to avoid rush hour traffic.
2) Keep low carb snacks and beverages in a small cloth lunch sack in the fridge. Grab it when you head out the door. If you don't need it, fine. If you do, it's there.
3) Stretch and do deep yoga-type breathing before getting in the vehicle even for short trips around town.
4) Try Gabatrol for the anxiety.

My chiropractor told me that she was getting ready to do a synchronized ice skating event. To help her relax, she took Gabatrol. http://gabatrol.com/

I remembered that she found it helpful, so I got some Gabatrol from her before a long trip. Taking three tablets around 9 in the morning saw peak calmness between 11am and 2pm. For me personally, taking more later wasn't helpful.

Gabatrol turned the manic nightmare that is driving into an interesting math problem, nothing more.

Now I don't need to take the Gabatrol before I drive. My body and mind know that I can do it.

Only you and or your doctor can decide if Gabatrol is a suitable choice for you.

It's awesome that you're getting exercise at the gym. I'm sure you were able to bring that 350 down in no time.

When you find what works best for you, you'll own the road.

Well the 350 went down to 180 after an hour on the eliptical and some weight lifting . That’s a positive in my life , how I can be 350 take 1 unit and know that exersise will bring it down to a better number . However , I do bring a cooler with me at all times and I keep a can of coke or Pepsi in my cup holder when I drive so if I start to feel that dropping feeling I just start sipping that soda . It works the best , even better than juice . So at least when I drive I’m not nervous cause I’m fearing a low . Otherwise I really do not enjoy driving when it requires speeds of 60 or more and that explains why I’m a wreck only on a highway . My throat sometimes gets so dry that I feel like I can’t swallow, but then as soon as I merge off that highway I’m great and I feel relieved at the same time that I’m no longer driving that highway . I wish I didn’t feel this way cause its kind of paralyzing

I was more nervous when first diagnosed when driving, I have calmed down about it a lot now. There are times I still get nervous if I feel I'm going hypo.. and it usually seems to always happen while I'm sitting at a light for some reason. I keep glucose drinks and candy in the console so even if a low came on suddenly I would be able to treat it immediately and I know I will be able to pull over quickly even on a highway. Fortunately I have not passed out or anything like that and my bad lows happen in the early am when I'm at home- I only had one when I was out shopping but I was not actually driving. If I feel at all hypo I always test to see where I am before driving. I have pretty good sensitivity. I also tend to be a careful driver- I have had three accidents which weren't my fault and I try to avoid dangerous driving situations. I'm just wondering if you had some bad lows while driving? Is that why you're so nervous about it? Maybe you can do some sort of therapy to overcome the anxiety? It really does seem like a phobia. I am naturally an anxious person and I noticed when I was going into dka the anxiety was much worse. I also get anxious and crabby when I go low.


I think with anxiety there is correlation and yes, some causation between high blood sugars, swings in BG and Anxiety so you are not alone in this.

For this type of anxiety I would suggest speaking to a professional, cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, keep doing it, realise it's okay and those fears should go away.

There is also exercise and anti anxiety medication which in my experience is more hassle than they are worth. Although I will forever think Xanax a wonderful drug haha.

I test EVERY time before I start the engine, I always have gels and glucose drinks under the seat or in glove box and I test every two hours when travelling in line with UK legal requirements for diabetics. If I'm low or on the way day down, I pull over and don't drive/ride until sorted. But this happens very rarely.

Statistically in the UK the motorway is the safest place to drive with least fatal accidents, due to crash barriers, traffic travelling in a controlled manner in straight lines etc, good surfaces and visibility.

Perhaps do a rational risk analysis, millions travel on highways daily under a variety of conditions and don't die!

I routinely do 400-500 miles a week in freezing temps on the motorway typically on a motorcycle, been rained on, sat along side articulated lorries that can't see me in their mirrors pulling into my lane and trying to squash me, I've t had to pull over on the hard shoulder with a sudden drop in blood sugar and sit there for over hour until it was sorted. All sorts. I'm still here, there only time i'll stop riding or driving is when I'm declared unmedically fit to do so by the powers that be.

Accidents that I have had ,have often (argubly)been outside of my control e.g 80 years old grandmas stopping suddenly in front of you in the middle of the road, or pulling out from junctions at the final moment on country lanes.Which one could argue I should have predicted, by foresight is not prenatural haha

Modern cars are also extremely safe, air bags, crumple zones, seat belts and so on...

I'd say it's a minimal risk which isn't worth the mental exhaustion. There is a risk in everything we do every single day, you've just got to try and stack the odds in your favour.

I also did some advanced riding and driving qualifications which massively increased my confidence and ability with vehicles, your observational skills, foresight and defensive driving skills will increase dramatically. If you are always planning and riding, driving like you're invisible to all others, you'll be fine :)

Good luck with it.


I think that w/ lows, it may be the change in BG level that can make you feel whacked out as much as being at a particular level. During some of my HIGHLY DANGEROUS experiments w/ IV R shots, I'd drop from 350 to the 70s in about 30 minutes which was handy but I'd be starting to sweat at the 1/2 way point, test BG and still be in the 150ish ballpark. Maybe that's a bad example but I think that when you are dropping, the empty low feelings can hit even when your bg is still at a normalish level. I don't get it as much any more as the pump has helped me get a leash on heavy hypos but before I started, I would think I was depressed because I would feel so bummed out when my BG was low as I was rollercoastering a lot during that whole era. If you do it a few times/ day, it added up to an overall negative feeling for me.

Hi marie,

It's nice that you posted so you have a chance to get suggestions and support!

I can't help with the bg-relatedness of your anxiety about driving.

But I do know someone who had the same sort of fear and tension about highways. For her, it came on after she started a statin, and gradually reduced after she stopped the statin. I'm not suggesting any changes in any medications that you might be on. And it seems more likely that your increased anxiety is for other reasons. But I wanted to share this example in case it was of any use to you in any way.

Best wishes,


Hi Marty ,
It’s interesting that you mention the statin cause I was switched about a year ago to a much higher level of Crestor and I wonder if that is causing my axiety

Has anyone ever gone low when driving on the busy roads . Sometimes it’s not my own lows I fear cause I’m always prepared when on the road , I keep a can of real soda in cup holder at all times . I fear the other type 1 diabetics on the road , cause I have always heard about alot of diabetics who leave the house without even a pack of glucose tablets . I wonder who always leaves prepared and who just takes their chances ?