The fear of speed or Tachophobia is the abnormal, often unwarranted fear of doing something too fast. This could include driving, biking, sitting in roller coasters or even simple activities like walking too fast. In some surprising cases, the phobic could even be afraid of talking or eating too fast or experiencing a fast paced life. In a majority of the cases though, the fear of speed is only related to the fear of motion. The word Tachophobia originates from Greek ‘tachos’ meaning ‘speed’ and ‘phobos’ meaning deep dread or aversion.
The fear of speed is quite a common phobia, and many men and women around the world suffer from it. To an extent it is also a very normal phobia, as everyone knows that speed thrills but it can also kill. In a majority of Tachophobic individuals, the fear does not interfere with one’s day-to-day life; though, in some cases, it could affect one’s job and/or personal activities. For example, the individual might refuse to travel in airplanes, cars, buses, trains etc or even refuse promotions because the job entails travel. Others might simply refuse to leave their homes due to the fear of encountering speedy buses, trains or cars.
Causes of Tachophobia
- Tachophobia generally stems from a negative experience in the past; the phobic (or someone dear to him/her) might have been badly hurt owing to speed.
- Apart from a negative experience, stress can also cause the fear of speed phobia. Any form of stress leads to anxiety which, in turn, leads to negative thought patterns that are often difficult to change.
- The fear of driving is also closely associated with Tachophobia. People my be afraid of driving alone or might simply refuse to get inside a vehicle.
- Additionally, the fear of speed is closely related to the fear of death or Thanatophobia. When sitting in a speeding vehicle, the phobic might experience thoughts of death or dying.
- Even a fast paced life can trigger fear in people suffering from fear of speed. The thought of one’s kids growing up too fast and subsequently leaving for college, getting married; settling far away etc can all lead to anxiety and depression.
- Recently, there was a case in UK, where a motorist experienced full blown panic attack at the mere sight of speed cameras on the roadway. This individual had never been caught speeding but the mere thought of being observed by such a camera led him to experience a full blown panic attack-for which he was made to seek professional help.
- News reports, TV shows, movies with fast action sequences which ultimately result in accidents etc can also cause phobia of speed in people with already anxious mindsets.
Thus, there is no single cause that could lead to the fear of speed. It could be due to some adrenal deficiency, a problem in the amygdala (the part of the brain that deals with emotions and fears) or simply a negative experience in one’s past.
Symptoms of fear of speed
From mild anxiety to full blown panic attack, the fear of speed can lead to various symptoms:
- The patient might shiver, tremble, and shake at the thought of speed.
- Movie scenes with speeding cars etc can also lead to a full blown panic attack.
- The phobic might experience racing heart, sweaty hands, shortness of breath etc
- Some might refuse to leave their homes particularly when it comes to traveling in buses, cars or trains.
- The thought of going on roller coasters, motorcycles etc could cause one to freeze.
Depression and anxiety also forms a major part of the phobic’s life. Friends and family often do not understand what the phobic is experiencing as a result of which, s/he feels even more isolated.
Treatment for Tachophobia
Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the most effective methods for treating this phobia. In extreme cases, doctors might also prescribe anti -anxiety medications- though these are not the best solution owing to their side effects.
Hypnotherapy and NLP or neuro-linguistic programming can also help one overcome their fear of speed. Both therapies help get to the bottom of the fear to change one’s negative thinking patterns. Systematic desensitization-exposing the phobic gradually to speed under the guidance of an expert-can help one overcome the phobia.
Additionally, phobics could also try self help remedies like meditation, positive visualization etc to reduce anxiety experienced due to their Tachophobia.