Gephyrophobia: Fear of crossing bridges is now in the spotlight

Big bridge: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which stretches for four miles, can be a scary place for someone with gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges. Enough people have fear problems there that a special program is available to hire drivers to take gephyrophobes across the bridge.
Big bridge: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which stretches for four miles, can be a scary place for someone with gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges. Enough people have fear problems there that a special program is available to hire drivers to take gephyrophobes across the bridge.
I’ve learned a new word this week: gephyrophobia (pronounced JEFF-ri-o-FO-bia).

Of course, it’s the fear of crossing bridges. Last week’s bridge collapse has most people a little more on edge when going over a bridge, but for some people it’s been like that for years.

And the medical definition of gephyrophobia is pretty interesting. This comes from Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may result partly from the fear of enclosure (claustrophobia) or the fear of heights (acrophobia). Phobic drivers may worry about being in an accident in busy traffic or losing control of their vehicles. High bridges over waterways and gorges can be especially intimidating, as can be very long or very narrow bridges.

Old and new: Here's another cool Chesapeake Bay Bridge photo that gives a better scale of the incredible height of the bridge. (Photos from Maryland Transportation Authority)
Old and new: Here's another cool Chesapeake Bay Bridge photo that gives a better scale of the incredible height of the bridge. (Photos from Maryland Transportation Authority)
USA Today had a story about a program for gephyrophobic drivers in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge area of Maryland. That bridge is four miles long and for years, Maryland’s Transportation Authority had a special program for gephyrophobic drivers. With call ahead, they could be met at the bridge by a bridge driver who would hop in their car and drive it over the bridge. Last year, more than 4,000 people took advantage of that program. That number grew so high, private contractors have now been hired to provide the service. What once was a free service now costs $25 a trip.

At the Mackinac Straits Bridge in Michigan, a five-mile suspension span that’s the third-longest bridge in the country, about 1,200 people take advantage of a similar, free driving service to cross that bridge.

But last week’s headlines may also be a blessing in disquise for those with gephyrophobia. A Washington Post story on the condition reports that therapists haven’t been swamped with calls from people with the condition.

"Before this happened, people who were anxious about it might have come in to work on their fear of bridges and tunnels because it was an irrational fear," said Jean Ratner, who runs the Center for Travel Anxiety in Bethesda, Md. "But with that bridge collapsing, their fears seem justified. It doesn't seem so irrational anymore."

What do you think about gephyrophobia? Have you ever experienced it? Any tips for people on how to deal with it? Share your thoughts here at Science Buzz.

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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

I just happened to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for the first time this past Friday on my way to Delaware for a wedding. Traffic from Washington DC to the bridge was horrible (which I guess is the norm during the summer), but as soon as we got on the bridge it became even worse due to a three-car accident in the left lane. According to MapQuest the entire trip was supposed to take 2 hours, but instead took 4 hours! But despite that, and the fact that we had watched hours of the Minneapolis bridge collapse on the news over the two previous days, driving over it wasn't that big a deal. On the return trip to Washington we opted to drive up through Wilmington and down through Baltimore, not because of any fear of the bridge collapsing, but rather intense anxiety of being stuck in another two-hour traffic jam. Our return trip took only 2.5 hours.

posted on Wed, 08/08/2007 - 12:01pm
Moose's picture
Moose says:

Last night I took the Memphis-Arkansas bridge over and it was sort of scary. I had to sit in a Motel 6 parking lot and build up my nerve while watching the traffic come over from the western side. I finally said the hell with it and just went over at 40 miles an hour and I was sort of laughing that I wasted 5 days in Memphis wondering how I was going to get over that bridge. Oh well, I am never going to cross over the Mississippi ever again. Nope.
To be honest with you, I was screaming the Rocky 3 lines over and over. "You ain't so bad. You ain't so bad." And, "My mother can hit harder than you!!" I was yelling at the building terror inside of me, and whoever mentioned that screaming would blow off the tension was very, very right. Kudos to the dude that went through that. Bruce

posted on Thu, 05/13/2010 - 3:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I kinda did the same thing once. A girlfriend and I were trying to go to the Pyramid for a concert, but we got stuck on a one-way street that ended up being the I-40 West on ramp. By the time we realized it, we were on the incline heading up and it was too late to go back, as there were cars behind us. So we looked at each other with our eyes wide open and screamed all the way across to Arkansas. As soon as we got to a place where we could turn around, we switched places so she could drive back, then we screamed all the way back. It worked much better than we'd expected. We were giggling by the time we made it to the concert.

posted on Tue, 02/07/2012 - 6:34pm
Kaallie's picture
Kaallie says:

Your story was soooooooooooo guys screaming both ways..the whole story lol See..I am afraid of heights so I totally can feel for you all :)

posted on Wed, 04/18/2012 - 6:06pm
Jane's picture
Jane says:

Gosh, I almost feel normal. I have had a mild bridge fear for years but drive small ones daily and kept it under control until an accident occurred on the Brent Spence bridge in Kentucky that "popped a man" over the edge into the water. Then I thought, "is this a phobia or me just being cautious. ?"
THEN, I went to California with my sister and drove on the coastal highway. Do not ever do this if you have this fear. I was so panic sticken we almost had to call 911 to drive us home. Once on that highway there is no guardrails, no room and no getting off.

posted on Sat, 06/07/2014 - 7:17am
Jody's picture
Jody says:

I'm not understanding the pronunciation given for this word.

shouldn't it be jeff-i-ro-fo-bia?

oddly enough, this word isn't in my dictionary.


posted on Thu, 09/20/2007 - 7:53am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

According to A Charlie Brown Christmas (written by St. Paul native Charles Shultz), it's JEFF-ih-ROW-be-uh.

posted on Mon, 11/05/2007 - 3:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is cool

posted on Mon, 11/05/2007 - 2:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I turned down a teaching job in Accoumack, Va because of that dang Chesapeake Bridge and tunnel. I already have asthma, and just getting over the bridge collasping in New Orleans (one i use to travel on in and out of New Orleans), then with the latest bridge collaspsing a few months ago. That bridge is too long and all the talk about the levies and the poor conditions our nations bridges are in, and the sorry way that they are maintained and checked for way. If i have to cross over a bridge it would have to be a surprise......willfully, I am not crossing.

posted on Tue, 12/18/2007 - 1:46pm
Art's picture
Art says:

Only about four years ago did I realize I get the jitters when crossing large scale bridges. The irony is that I studied Civil Engineering in college and graduate school - who would have know that some 10 years later, I'd develop gephyrophobia (learned a new word, too). I don't actually feel like the structure will collapse. It's more just the imposing bulk of some bridges that gets me scared. I have trouble breathing, sometimes even gasp and my heartrate increases. It's awful and very annoying at the same time because I have to go out of my way in some cases just to avoid them!!! I wonder what triggered this fear. I guess it's good to know I'm not the only one who has this phobia.

posted on Fri, 01/04/2008 - 2:11pm
Rick's picture
Rick says:

I found out a few years ago that I suffer from this phobia (gephyrophobia). Mine is related to a fear of heights (acrophobia), but the fear of bridges is much worse than any fear of heights. For me it is only manifest when driving across the high arch type of bridge where your car is aiming up in the air and you can't see over the crest of the bridge. I can walk across such a span with no problem, but when driving, the fear becomes one of losing control of the vehicle and smashing into other cars on the bridge. It's easier if no other vehicles are on the bridge while I'm driving across. A long and/or narrow bridge that does not arch is not a problem, but any arch in the bridge is magnified in my perception while on the bridge. Ski lift chairs are not much of a problem for me but I don't like roller coasters or ferris wheels. This appears to have started after age 40 and I cannot recall any particular incident which may have triggered such irrational fear.

posted on Wed, 01/09/2008 - 2:31pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I know how you feel, I had no problem with driving over anything in any weather condition. ( especially lightening storms) About two years ago plus, I drove my mom over from Staten Island to NJ over the Outerbridege Crossing and experienced the most heart gripping experience.... I nearly stopped in the middle. ...Did not drive over anything more that a creek for nearly 20 months....

This can fear can be dealt with and it really helps when family / friends understand what you fear... Some may find it funny or strange, you should immediately dismiss anyone who calls it stupid.... this is a really a fear of loss of control and should never be ignored.. There are people that count on you being in control and safe.

Take the bridges on (small ones first ) and take a deep breath, listen to Peter Framptom ( OK showing my age ) or whatever tune makes you feel good. Have someone you trust with you, talk it out while your driving......

Still cannot do the Verrazano like I used too, but I can now do the Driscoll over the Raritan going to the NJ shore..

These things do happen, I do not condemn myself, I just take one mile or overpass at a time... If that mile goes over a bridge without a problem, I've just about won.

posted on Mon, 02/04/2008 - 8:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I appreciate the confidence and strength you have in yourself and the encouragement you give to others. I know you have struggled to get where you are. I am 52 and I started with panic attacks 20 years ago, while driving the highway to work, which was under heavy construction. The panic became paralyzing going across the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Unfortuately I was hospitalized . Under the care of my psychiatrist I am doing better but have never gotten back over a bridge or back to work! Fear and anxiety can change your entire life.

posted on Thu, 03/01/2012 - 12:22pm
Minnie's picture
Minnie says:

My fear of bridges started after I was attacked on the Garden State Parkway. Next morning when driving to work I suddenly couldn't breath and felt I was going to pass out. Crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge was awful.

I went to a therapist as I was desperate. My job was at stake. He did cognitive therapy and that worked for crossing the TZ Bridge. But I still don't cross it until I have to for work.

I have to plan every trip and check for bridges. Then I look at them online and see if I have the nerve to cross it. I have to weigh up the reroute distance and the reason for the trip. Sometimes I go. Sometimes I don't.

It sucks.

posted on Mon, 09/17/2012 - 5:04pm
Bad News's picture
Bad News says:

the same thing happened to me at around age 45 for no apparent reason. Crossing high bridges especially the arch type causes me extreme anxiety. Looking for some typre remedy for this situation that caught me by surprise late in life. Surprised & comforting to hear of someone else with the same problem.

posted on Mon, 09/08/2008 - 2:46pm
Cheryl's picture
Cheryl says:

So good to hear what I am experincing stated so clearly! Thought I was in a group of 1! Panic did not set in until after 40. Ten years later and no fix! I'm fine on flat bridges but as soon as I see the arch - it sets in. I'm fine as a passenger - no fear. Not seemingly afraid of heights ~ not sure what this is....

posted on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 9:46am
marier4him's picture
marier4him says:

I know this is an old topic, but I was searching fear of bridges and this came up. I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only one. I was fine until I hit 40 also. I actually drove back and forth over the Golden Gate Bridge in a convertible just for the fun of it in my 30's! I am also fine on flat bridges, but as soon as I see the road going up...I feel like I'm going to launch right into the air. I have also developed a fear of flying now, which never bothered me until my mid-30's. I love to travel and I want this to go away.

posted on Tue, 05/24/2011 - 9:20am
ursula's picture
ursula says:

i know you wrote this years ago.. but i am just finding this article.. this is the same way i feel.. i so want to get over this.. is things better for you now.. any advise

posted on Thu, 09/06/2012 - 11:35am
Gary Clark's picture
Gary Clark says:

I have the same problem. I remember coming back from florida on I-10. My whole family was with me and I had to cross the bridge on I-1o going into New Orleans. I got dizzy, light headed, and felt like I would pass out. Ever since then - I have not been able to cross bridges that any kind of arch. The one in New Orleans in I-10 it felt as if I was driving straight up into the sky and all I could see was sky. The guard rail had been taken off and there were just those concrete bumpers on the side like the have on the interstates when they are working on them. Now after that incident, I cant do the large overpasses ( the flying ones) The stackable ones scare me to death - like the ones at round rock just north of Austin TX. UGH! A flat bridge does not bother me, I have noticed I cant cross a ferry over the river now too. I have a detached retina in my right eye that can not be reparied and I think that may have something to do with this experience. If someone else is driving - I don't have a problem but If I am driving - I get nervous, dizzy, light headed, my heart races, have a hard time breathing and feel as if I am going to pass out. I got stuck on one of the high overpasses and I felt like I was having a seizure. My head started jerking, I start rubbing my legs and want to get out of the car - plus all of the above symptoms. My wife had to keep talking to me to get me through it. I just knew if I got out of the car I would fall flat. I remember going over an overpass going around Little Rock Ark, and after I got over the overpass ( I-30) I pulled over and threw up. I really hate the ones that and a upward grade and curve too.
I though I was the only one who had this problem
I do take ativan and it helps.

posted on Wed, 06/30/2010 - 10:26am
?'s picture
? says:

Hey I'm so glad to hear I'm not alone. My condition is a fear of crossing any kind of bridge, flat or arch. I live in S Jersey and have to report to Philadelphia airport weekly. I too get light headed, sweaty palms, heart racing and want to pass out. Xanax didn't help. Does anyone out there know another route to get to Philadelphia airport from S. Jersey without crossing Walt Whitman bridge or Benjamin Franklin? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thx!

posted on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 10:34pm
Stefanie's picture
Stefanie says:

I'm really just learning tonight that there is a name for this condition. I-10, I know it well, Didn't really realize I had a problem with bridges until I moved to Louisiana. I can't go anywhere without crossing a high grade bridge over water.I know it's irrational to fear; however, many years ago, I was in an accident and went over a 30 foot embankment and broke my neck and both my legs, so, at least, I know where the irrational fear about driving over bridges comes from for me. I hate this phobia as I'm a very logical person & even though I know where this fear comes from, I cannot do anything about the anxiety my body and mind experiences while driving over a bridge. Unfortunately, I do it twice per day-but I really can't stand it and I really feel unsafe doing so. I know to others it sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I don't care. It's real.

posted on Sun, 10/20/2013 - 12:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yours is the ABSOLUTE same experience that I have... I don't know what triggered it but it has become so terrifying for me that I will avoid local highway or intra-state travel. I am so pissed at myself that I would even feel this way. I want so much to get past this state that I take the risk of traveling along the very routes that will take me on courses which challenge and confront the fear(s). I did it goining from Syracuse to Pittsburgh along Interstate 79....OMG!!!! I soooo "white-knuckled it" ALL the way there AND back with my sleeping daughter next to me. BUT I promised her a trip and By Goodness we were going to do it...AND I DID IT!!!! While I am so very proud of my accomplishment, I often scold myself for NOT admitting & relinquishing to the very real fear of the travel and that I could have acted in a way that would have..... In resolution, I think about seeing a hypnotist, therapist or psychologist to rid myself of this irrational fear. The lasting vestige of my "old" self is MY DETERMINATION which is what I use to help me confront this fear in order to live normally.

posted on Tue, 10/05/2010 - 7:49pm
Madeline's picture
Madeline says:

Dear Rick,
What you need to do is try to face your fears. If you don't, you always be living with the constant fear of bridges and heights. Let's face it. It's pretty easy to stand up to something that you're scared of, and ISN'T living. You've got to stand up to them. And yes, I bet we've all had our fair share of hearing, or learning about bridges and other height- related things that have broken, or collapsed while people were on them, but you've got to get past that mental barrier that's preventing you from loving some pretty cool things. I hope this comment helped you.

posted on Wed, 04/03/2013 - 1:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I had been driving over the Bay Bridge for years without a problem. When I heard that there were people who were too scared to cross I thought "wow, what a strange fear!" and went on zooming across, enjoying the view of the Bay with the seagulls flying right up there with you.

Then about a year ago I noticed that I would feel a little anxious as I drove over -similar to the other comments posted here, it wasn't a fear that the bridge would collapse; it was more like vertigo compounded by the looong span of the tall bridge. It was a pretty mild feeling though, until the most recent time crossing. This last time that I drove over I actually started to panic - sweaty palms, racing heart, feeling light-headed. The worst part, mentally, was the realization that there was no emergency pull-off so if I actually wanted to stop my car it would cause a traffic jam, or even an accident.

Luckily I found a spot to drive behind a tractor-trailer which took up my view and distracted/calmed me down enough to cross. I did drink coffee that morning, which I usually don't do, so I'm hoping that it was just the exaggerating stimulant effects of caffeine playing on my usually-mild nervousness about crossing the bridge.

However, now I'm concerned about trying to cross again, and I have to attend meetings on the shore every so often. I'm thinking of taking the extra time to go up and around through Harford/Cecil instead which is really inconvenient but better than possibly freaking out on the Bay Bridge!
Final thoughts: if you are crossing the bay bridge and someone is going slowly over in the right lane, don't tailgate them! They might be realizing that they too are now in the unfortunate class of gephyrophobic drivers.

posted on Thu, 01/10/2008 - 7:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in New Jersey and my boyfriend lives on Long Island.. Up until recently I was able to cross bridges no problem, I've always been a little anxious but that was all- I've driven over many in NJ (getting onto the Parkway and to Long Beach Island), many in PA and MD (going back to school, even the Del Memorial and going into OC).. I've driven over the Verazzano, Goethals, GWB, and Throgs Neck.

Last week when I was leaving NY I had a panic attack on the Verazzano. I'm not sure why, because I've driven over twice before. I am also afraid of heights which may be a reason why.

Today I had to drive back into NY, and I had two little panic attacks on the GWB and Throgs Neck, which is VERY strange because I have driven over them too many times to count.

And to what Rick said, about my car aiming up in the air, I think that is what did it for me also. The GWB is pretty flat and never gave me a problem, and is short enough that I don't reach a peak in the attack, I begin to get it and then I see the end of the bridge and I start to feel calm.

None of the websites have been helpful, they say to go on medication (which I am not going to do because I drive over bridges during my college breaks).. or to pull over, which isn't an option on a bridge and probably contributes to my fear. Is all that is left for me to try is adding license plate numbers and reciting baby names??

posted on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 2:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Panic attack going, panic attack coming.
Take the Whitestone, alot easier.

posted on Fri, 05/30/2008 - 8:07pm
Dave's picture
Dave says:

I was in the san francisco area just 2 weeks be fore the 1988 (?) earthquake -- the one during the World Series. I drove back and forth across the Bay Bridge several times. That's the one that collapsed. As close as I would like to come! After the 35W bridge went down (20 minutes before I was due to cross it!) I had some problems crossing Missippi bridges although it mostly passed in a month or so.

posted on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 2:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just like many of you, I used to be able to cross just about any bridge without a second thought, until 4 years ago when driving my SUV across the Delaware Memorial Bridge from Delaware to NJ. The winds were strong that day, and I suddenly had a panic attack heading toward the middle of the span (sweaty palms, light-headed, racing heart,etc.).

Now ever since that day I can't cross a suspension bridge without getting panicked for days ahead of time thinking about it, or having the same attack when actually crossing it. I haven't tried drugs or any serious therapy...yet at least.

One of the strangest things is that I can cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to this day without a second thought still, so this has to be height-related...I think.

posted on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 4:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Drive more often with same bridge that may relief fear of crossing tall bridges.

posted on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 8:00pm
SLC's picture
SLC says:

I agree. Some people are scared to cross brigdes cause they can look really dangerous cause of how they would look or where they are located. Specially in this picture, it look really scary.

posted on Mon, 12/08/2008 - 12:10pm
PHYLLIS's picture


posted on Fri, 01/18/2008 - 8:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Mine is related to a fear of heights (acrophobia). The MD bay bridge east bound is not a good trip from me. The 3 miles to get to the top is nerve racking. The problem is I can see right through the side retainer metal railing to below. With no place to look but to your side, it just creates a sence of climbing the big hill of a roler coaster for 3 miles going up. If they just could block the side walls with some view removing material that allows wing through would help big time. I think a number of driver and myself would be OK by just blocking the side walls view to the buttom. This sounds like it would not be a major cost to implement. Ofcoarse I was able to drive any briage any time until I reached age 50. Then this brige crossing problem started, but only with the MD Bay Bridge. But this is the only bridge that a driver is forced to see the hight, all the other bridges I drive like Golden Gate, Varizano and others do not create this hight sensation like the MD bay bridge does. I hope somebody reads this and fixes this problem as I would like to buy a summer house in Rohobeth but this MD Bat bridge is causing me to reconsider.

Please help!

posted on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 10:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You are right about the Bay Bridge: the open slats let you think you are flying off. The east span isnt too bad, not as steep as rise as the west span. I think you erred on the worse direction of that bridge.

posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 9:56am
AnonymousMC's picture
AnonymousMC says:

Solider that is the span I fear, the other one does not bother me,(well a little)...I used to drive over it until 2008 then I freaked, now my wife drives over. She started to freak and could not feel her foot or gas peddle last year, so now we avoid it all together. When I could do the spans(had to go for work), I would make sure I had NO caffine, take a klonpin or zantex 15 mins before I got close. I would stay in one lane, and I have myself space between the driver in front of me before I started to merge on the bridge to give me a sense of control. Approaching the bridge, I WOULD NOT LOOK UP at the stucture to see how big or tall it is. As I would drive across, I would pull the sunvisor down and stare at that level dead ahead a few yards in front of the car. I NEVER look to the left or right and would even hold my hands to the left to block out height factor(I do not look out the window of a plane when I fly either), do I know it is a height issue, plus a little fear of getting stuck up there, nothing about it falling or anything like that. This started in my mid 30s. In my 20s I used to fly over it in my mustang my the top down with a group of friends never batting a eye.....

posted on Wed, 05/16/2012 - 9:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Like many of you, I am terrified of the Chesapeake Bay bridge that crosses over to Maryland. It is a fear of heights and being trapped if we have to sit in traffic on this thing. It is imposing just looking at it from a distance knowing that you have to get in line and go over it. I keep thinking "what if we get stuck on this up in the air in traffic and cannot get off of it for a long time". I think that I would get sick. I crossed it last year as a passenger and had to take a tranquilizer. Trust me, it helped, but not completely. If the traffic would have stopped I would have still had a full blown panic attack. We are planning a trip again this summer to the eastern shore and I am already nervous about having to cross this bridge. I wish my husband would take the long way around it but he won't. My fear of it is so bad, that I am considering going someplace else on vacation. That is awful. I sympathize with everyone who has this fear.

posted on Thu, 01/24/2008 - 1:46am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have it for years. I first got it on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland. I get exremely dizzy, develop "dead hands" and tachycardia. It has definately negatively impacted my life. I can't stand tunnels either.

posted on Mon, 12/21/2009 - 7:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Has anyone else had this problem and do they know a cause or cure? I get very dizzy and light headed while driving up a steep bridge. My speed decreases the whole time i am climbing the bridge yet, when i get to the top, I am fine. My speed picks back up and I drive down with no problems at all. I don't know if I am experiencing vertigo or what. It's just odd that I am fine on most bridges, it is only when I am climbing a steep bridge.

posted on Sun, 02/17/2008 - 7:16pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Try going over bridges in a class A Truck, Take all those fears and multiply them by a hundred. It would be like sitting on top of your car looking down only at water. You get so dizzy you feel like the bridge is going to fall over sideways. I slow down to 45 mph. I have had this for the last 10 years. I start thinking about crossing days ahead of time. Same symptoms, hard going up, decent not so bad. It's not so bad in a car, but a big rig is scary!

posted on Thu, 11/27/2008 - 9:17am
Mary's picture
Mary says:

I've always felt a bit nervous with heights and some bridges if the floor of the bridge was grating but last year I drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and absolutely freaked! My entire body stiffened, I couldn't breathe, my heart raced, I started driving left of center and reduced my speed to about 30mph. I know the cars behind me weren't thrilled but it was either that or stop my car, lay down on the seat and curl up into the fetal position. Rick (1/09 post) you are so right when you write that the high arch of the bridge makes it worse because it does for me as well. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster approaching the top of the hill before the cars take that sudden drop. Bridges with open sides where I can see how high up I actually am also cause great panic. For me it's not a fear of the bridge caving in but rather the fear that I am going to fall off the side of it. I had to have a driver bring me back over the Bay Bridge as just thinking about the drive brought on sheer panic. I was fine as long as he stayed in the middle lane but the moment he shifted to the far right lane, the panic returned. It seems narrow bridges bring on the same fear. Oddly, there are bridges or over-passes I can drive over without issue. I'm not sure if any of you saw Chris Cuomo on Good Morning America take the Dare and jump off Trump Towers in Atlantic City, NJ. I watched it in my living room and was screaming at the TV when he inched his way to the edge of the building so he could slide off. Panic set in as I could feel the absolute horror and fear associated with that height and I wasn't the one at the edge of that building. I almost feel as if the Bay Bridge incident left me with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and have thought I should seek help for it. This is rather new for me so if anyone out there has found anything that has helped them, please let me job depends on it as you see, I travel as part of my job and the majority of it is driving. Thanks for listening.

posted on Sun, 03/09/2008 - 8:58pm
Lindsay's picture
Lindsay says:

I have progressively been getting worse about driving over bridges, through tunnels, or on wide open highways for that last few years. At this time I will make alternative driving routes just to avoid many of them and it always sounded rational to me. I finally asked my primary physician about it the other day after my father and I had a long talk about it. I always felt as though it was a physical health problem because we both have the same issues. I have never had a "fear" of heights or the bridges, I just feel like I can't focus, that I am off balance in these cases. My doctor on the other hand basically thought I was crazy and assumed that I had bigger problems to deal with in my life. She thinks that perhaps I have lost a sense of control in my life and this is how my body reacts to the "big picture". I will admit that I am a bit conservative, not a big risk taker, but lead a very happy balanced life. So by the end of the appointment I left with three different prescriptions for anxiety and anti-depression and to top it off an appointment with the psychiatrist next week. I am not a big believer in daily medications of any sort and am determined to find the real root of my problems. For now i will continue to try and make alternative routes and as someone else wrote earlier, placing yourself behind the big semi does help. I find it helps block the horizon and allows me to focus directly ahead of me, even if it takes me longer to get to my destination, at least I get there in one piece. Good luck to everyone! LH

posted on Sat, 03/15/2008 - 6:39am
KDW's picture
KDW says:


Your symptoms and experience is almost identical to mine. I have been driving with no issues for years up until the last few months. I was curious how you were doing since the March post and if you found a solution other than medication. KW

posted on Tue, 01/13/2009 - 1:11pm
James G Brown's picture
James G Brown says:

I have tried to find the courage to travel to america all my life, or going anywhere that might involve heights. I am frightened of flying and of high bridges which I know are silly irrational fears but they have ruined my life as I have held myself back from traveling, always fearing whats around the next corner, if its a bridge or high motorway, if someone can help me in overcoming these crippling silly fears I would be truly thankful as I am of an age now when I cant wait to long in fulfilling my dream of visiting america, thanking you James

posted on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 4:28am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello James ... I have the exact same fear. I am ashamed to admit it might just ruin my life.

I have had it for a long time (30+ years) and it has restricted my life - alot. Before I got married 8 years ago, I told my wife about this "crippling silly fear"
she was not to impressed, but she has been very supportive - to a point.

If I have been somewhere before, then I know what to expect - I usually am fine to drive and travel, however, bridges and very high over-passes on highways I am very scared and have panic attacks. It is very difficult to deal with. I have tried unsuccessfully to get help with this and I feel it will ruin my life and my marriage. I would give anything to conquer this and wish you the best of luck!

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 9:01am
Deb's picture
Deb says:

I have never really been comfortable with heights. The older I get, the worse it becomes. Bridges and mountain highways (with overlooking views) are absolutely the worst. My heart is racing now just reading the previous posts. For me it's about a loss of control. I feel that if I am in a car, I am just as helpless as on a runaway horse. What if I have a blowout, the truck behind me hits me, or my driving is compromised due to a panic attack. AND, it's not irrational, I have accumulated enough stories, even ones from close friends, over my lifetime to justify my fears. (I won't dare share any of them and add to yours.)

I work out in the field and am on the road quite a bit. There are a few bridges I can handle (short distance, high and safe sides, visibility of height not so obvious, flat grade, etc.) There are some I won't even attempt, for fear of a panic attack, and will do whatever is necessary to detour around them. I will even become paniced days in advance (I'm afraid I'll miss my planned detour turnoff and wind up being forced over the damn thing). Not only is it interfering with my life, I really WISH I could be one of those folks who enjoys the view.

I found this page because I really would love to (need to) do something about it and was doing some web-surfing. I understand that therapy using virtual reality is offering some success. I am going to look into it. I suggest the same for all of you.

posted on Sun, 05/18/2008 - 11:06pm
Jill's picture
Jill says:

Reading your comments hit home with me. It's not only bridges, but also high elevation driving with signs for scenic views just makes my heart pound.
This started for me in my early 40's, before that I had no fears when driving on bridges, tunnels, mountains, nothing.
When it first started I was going over a bridge on the way to Ocean City MD, I felt dizzy was sweating and shaking so much. By the time I got over the bridge I had to get off the first exit, I wasn't sure I'd be able to drive.
I am now almost 50 yrs old and want to conquer this phobia. My job requires me to drive all over central, north east Pa and NJ. I have mapped out routes to avoid certain roads and bridges. If anyone has any answers please let me know.
Good Luck to you all!

posted on Mon, 01/11/2010 - 5:58pm
Dawnly's picture
Dawnly says:

I feel the same way about driving over bridges and even an overpass, severe panic and terror. I feel as if I might lose control of the car somehow and go over the side or something. Reading these posts, my hands are sweaty, my heart is racing. I don't know how to get over this fear. I always take the longest way to get to places to avoid any bridges or overpasses. I was thinking of trying hypnosis, has anyone on here tried it?

posted on Wed, 12/01/2010 - 12:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have traveled the bay bridge for many years and have enjoyed it. Then in my late forties I had a HUGE panic attack on the westbound bridge. The old eastbound bridge does not feel as open on the sides and does not have the appearance of a drop off as the westbound newer bridge does. The westbound has open sides and you can't see the whole bridge almost as if you are walking a gangplank. I no longer go to the beach. It's too terrifying, the bridge. For me it is not a fear of height, water, falling, crashing, but just a visual effect that my brain has problems dealing with. I think the westbound definitely needs to feel more closed in on the sides and should have had a curve put in it so you can see the other side of the bridge. I have tried three times to cross and after making it to the top and seeing the other side, I start calming down but the terrifying trip before I get to that point is too much to bear. I did try pulling a snout cap down over my head and putting the visors down over the side windows to cut my view as much as possible. It helped a little but not enough to do it again. Anyone know how to get to the beach from southern pa without taking this bridge?

posted on Tue, 05/27/2008 - 10:36am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I live in southern PA and I go to Virginia Beach. The bridges and tunnels there are easy to cross. I have not been able to cross the Bay Bridge since I became a mom. I worry about accidents occuring while up that high and so unprotected. The last two fatal accidents on the Bay Bridge are keeping me off that bridge for good but you can get to OC driving up north and over into Delaware.

posted on Thu, 08/14/2008 - 12:50pm
Richie's picture
Richie says:

I too suffer from fear of driving over the MD bay bridge. I go from D.C up 95, around Baltimore or through it and just before the Delaware Mem. bridge I cut over to Christiana Delaware and take route 13 all the way down to Rehoboth or Ocean City, MD. You have to scoot over the C & D canal bridge but that's easy. I fish under the bay bridge all the time and I say to myself 'I can do that', but the last time I freaked out and have never been over it since. Didn't start this stuff until my fifties. I really bugs me. I tried Paxil once and no effect whatsoever. Stopped taking it. I wish they would bring back the car ferries. I feel like such a wimp. I was airborne infantry and fear very little but high narrow bridges.

posted on Tue, 08/26/2008 - 12:51pm
vschreck's picture
vschreck says:

I live in Baltimore and am deathly afraid of bridges. do you have to go over any other bridges/toll bridges on your 95 route to the Delaware beaches? thanks, val

posted on Sun, 06/16/2013 - 1:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yesterday I drove over the Bay Bridge Maryland. I never really new there were that many people with a fear of driving over bridges until I googled up images of the bridge to show some family and landed upon this sight. I've always had a problem but it has gotten worse as I get older. Not only did I have to go over this bridge, I ended up on the single lane going on the opposite side of the bridge(westbound side). My daughter (17) offered to drive over,but that wasn't until we were already on the bridge and I was hyperventilating. I didn't really think it was a good idea to stop at that point!?! Needless to say we made it , but I would have gladly paided the $25 for someone else to do it for me. Being an extreme claustrophic it was interesting to read that that is possibly part of the problem. I'm not afraid of heights at all just driving on bridges. I'm certain the view was beautiful, but it was hard to see through the narrowing tunnel vision I was getting from hyperventilating?!?! I've driven the George Washington a millions times but always on the lower level and it doesn't bother me that much. It definitely has something to do with wide open space around me on other bridges. Good thing I don't have to drive that bridge often.

posted on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 2:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i drive of the st. georges bridge on my way to the de/md beaches. the panic attacks seem to worsen with age (sweaty palms, shortness of breath, dizziness). if i can find another way around, i'll go that way instead.

posted on Fri, 06/27/2008 - 11:50pm
Miss Blistery Day's picture
Miss Blistery Day says:

Ihaven't really gotten scared of crossing bridges but the 35w crash really freaked me out a little bit because that day i was going to go to Wisconsin and we had to cross the bridge to get to our destination. But our plans changed a few hours before we were going to leave. Our guardians decided they didn't wnt to drive through the night because they had a long day and were probably going to get tired so we decided to go the next day. I think if my parents hadn't thought of that I wouldn't be here right now.

posted on Mon, 07/14/2008 - 9:37am
Gary A.'s picture
Gary A. says:

After reading through all of these post. I find that I too and the victim of the notorious Bay Bridge. I am 39 years old and have traveled all over the United States but, a recent transplant to Maryland. One day my family and I wanted to take a trip to Delaware and followed the GPS program right to the foot of the Bay Bridge. it was the most intimidating span that I had ever seen in my life. As I started moving onto the bridge I was able to see nothing but an high arch. I could see the other side to land due to the slight mist. I found it extremely difficult to keep focused on my driving. I tried focusing on the centerline and using my peripheral vision to navigate the 4 mile span. I made one trip across, and one trip back. from that point on my nerves have been absolutely destroyed when approaching a bridge. I grew up in the Pittsburgh area where there are bridges everywhere. I have no problem crossing the bridge is going to the tunnels or anything like that in my own familiar area. But when I hit the open highways I remain stressed out wondering if I'll come across a large bridge. I have never had this before in my life but over the last six months it is nearly incapacitated me, and make me hate driving. If anyone is currently on any kind of medication that seems to help please advise us via this post. Any help on this end would be greatly appreciated.

posted on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 3:30pm
Cowardess's picture
Cowardess says:

Gary, I know exactly what you mean...I feel your pain. I have had about 3 panic attacks on highways in my life, but they were a while back. Suddenly, about two weeks ago, I traveled to Mt. Pleasant, near Charleston, S.C and had an experience that I now know indicates a major problem. I rounded a corner and was faced with that Ravenel Bridge. My heart raced into my throat, I had tunnel vision from the terror, my hands were paralyzed onto the wheel and I felt like I was coming out of my body. I was on the verge of passing out. I had several meetings that required me to drive over that bridge and others in the area. So drastic was my fear that I had to hire a taxi to drive me back and forth. I just turned 60 so it's a surprise that these things are starting to happen. I've always loved adventure and even went sky diving in the late 80's. Now I plan every trip around whether or not a bridge is there. The part that gets me the most is the arch in a bridge. If I look up and see sky, I'm a gonner. There's no way to stop the escalation of the terror at that point. As for medicine, I bought some Rescue Remedy that is made of herbs. You just spray twice on your tongue and it does help in about 10 minutes. I used it after I was a crumpled mess on the other side of that Ravenel. I haven't tried it before I actually have to drive over another bridge. The next time I get stuck going over a bridge, I'll keep a look out for another car driving 20 mph and I'll keep my distance. It's devastating. Thank you for sharing your story.

posted on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 10:08am
LizaAnne's picture
LizaAnne says:

I live on the north side of the Ravenel Bridge and have to visit a physician on the south side. There is no way to go around -- if you don't go over the bridge, you don't make it to Charleston. Have to get someone to drive me. I have the same symptoms as so many other posters here. Fear of the fear itself. My foot starts shaking so hard when trying to drive across one of those arcing bridges that I am unable to put pressure on the gas pedal. It is a paralyzing feeling that didn't start with me until my late 30's. I have no explanation as to the reason it began.

posted on Wed, 03/14/2012 - 12:18pm
Kaallie's picture
Kaallie says:

I wish I could find a remedy also as I cannot drive somewhere I have never been because I am afraid of running into a high, narrow, arching bridge also..and it has ruined my life as I missed many of my baby's swim meets because of this I have an awesome job opportunity but I have to drive the Solomons Island Bridge to get there and I simply cannot drive husband drove me over it twice and I tried but I had to pull over before I got on..I really want this there any help anybody??

posted on Wed, 04/18/2012 - 7:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I too have this problem. It did not develop until I went across the CBBT. I could not wait until I was back on solid ground. At first I thought I was getting sea sick, but without being on a boat. I don't have a problem with most bridges, just the larger ones that span long distances. I don't like stopping in traffic on bridges either because I can feel the bridge vibrating when cars are coming from the other direction. I also have problems with tunnels now. Any tunnel that goes underwater or the longer ones that go under the mountain ranges like the ones along the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading west. I'm getting ready to drive back across the PA Turnpike next week and am not looking forward to that part of the ride. When my family goes on vacation down to the Outerbanks, I always make them go the long way to avoid most tunnels & the CBBT and I also make sure I'm driving since I feel worse when I'm not.

posted on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 3:54pm
Blue Eyes's picture
Blue Eyes says:

I just returned from crossing both ways over the Harry Nice Bridge (Hwy 301 over the Potomac River between VA and MD). We've been stopped before for bridge work and I dread it. Last time I was driving and we were at the very top that thing Rick talked about in his comments, when you can not see over the top and it took deep breathing and lots of talking to myself to keep me from getting out of control. Today, same thing except - stopped high on the bridge - my husband was driving and after one quick look affirming I could not see over the bridge and one quick look over the side confirming if the bridge collapsed that would be the end of us, a deep breath and I opened a book to read while we waited. Not looking and keeping my eyes glued to a book is much better.

I've known for a long time I have a mild case of bridge phobia but until today I did not bother to look up the name - gephyrophobia. I told my husband it's not so much the fear of heights but not being in control and expecting something terrible to happen and no way to deal with it. Deb said the same thing in her posting and described well the feeling of no control.

I wondered what causes this fear and was interested in all the comments. I have had asthma all my adult life and I am quite claustrophobic and not crazy about heights but don't mind being on the high floor of a building or crossing high bridges as long as I can see ahead. Crossing the bay bridge is a little frightening but as long as I look nowhere except straight ahead I can manage. Last year we were in Chianti country in Tuscany where the roads are steep, hairpin curves and no guard rails - I could not get behind the driver's wheel. Fortunately, my husband was a good sport and did all the driving.

Good to have folks to learn from and share with. I've only got a mild case but I can certainly sympathize with others. Good luck!!

posted on Tue, 08/05/2008 - 1:07pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have the biggest fear of bridges and I feel it is really keeping from doing things that I would love to do but it really is a sickness, If anyone has any clues on how to get over this I would love it, my daughter and I was suppose to go away for the weekend to another state, but I cant because what if there is a bridge? Now I have disappointed her because of this fear I would love to conquer.

posted on Wed, 08/06/2008 - 9:31pm
SK's picture
SK says:

This is directed at all the people who have a problem with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (the high one not the long one).
Just go up and around. I also have a problem with the bridge. For a while I used to get directly behind a tractor-trailer till it filled my vision (not a safe thing to do) to make it over the bridge.
Now I just go up north on I-95 then take Delaware Route 1 south and by-pass the bridge all together.
With our families, my brother and I go to the Rehoboth Beach each year in separate cars. We stay together traveling east on I-70 until Fredrick MD. Then he takes I-270 and the Bay Bridge and I stay on I-70 and go clockwise around Baltimore to I-95. My route is only 20 miles longer but half the time I get to the beach before he does due to the traffic jams at the Bay Bridge. Here's another hint. Get off I-95 at Havre De Grace and take Route 40 across the Susquehanna River. The I-95 toll booth is on the other side of the Susquehanna River and it will cause traffic to back up all the way across the river. So you'll be stuck on the I-95 bridge for a long time. Use the Havre De Grace bridge to bypass the whole mess.
Been there, Done that.

posted on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 8:26pm
JMZ's picture
JMZ says:

It's very intriguing that these fears develop more intensely in the 30s and 40s age range.

I am 41 and have recently become very irrational whilst driving across high bridges that have open sides. My hands become sweaty, I cannot breathe properly, my speed slows down to a crawl and I have the bizarre desire to drive off the side !!

I have just returned from touring Europe where the average road /autoroute speed is 120 to 160 kmh ...imagine finding yourself suddenly on a 700m high bridge at these speeds without any warning !!!!

The German bridges are much better having wind deflectors that are not see through ...unfortunately they enjoy telling you the height and length at the beginning of the bridge !!

posted on Sat, 08/16/2008 - 7:53am
Jane's picture
Jane says:

I was thinking the same thing about the age thing. I have driven over a bridge near my home in Maryland for 8 years now with absolutely no problem. One day everything changed and now I can't drive the bridge. As a passenger i'm fine, just the driving i can't do. I'm very intrigued to know if age has something to do with it...I was 45 when it all started to go bad.

posted on Wed, 11/12/2008 - 7:34am
Joanne's picture
Joanne says:

I recently had a very strange psychic experience with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Chesapeake City, MD. I normally go down there once a month to the Fellowship lunch that is hosted by Trinity Methodist Church on the last Saturday of each month. The last time I attempted to go to lunch there was August 30, 2008 at approximately 11:30 AM. It was at about that moment that I met the bridge and was filled with inexplicable feelings of fear and dread, like there was going to be a terrible disaster at the bridge. I fought my feelings, driving over the bridge while sweating profusely, needless to say, I was very happy to come off the other end of the bridge safely. I went to the lunch at the church but, was still so shaken by my experience and weak in the knees, I did not stay for the lunch. Instead, I asked the host if there were any way I could return to Elkton without crossing the bridge again. She told me I could go back through Delaware, which is what I did, although it was a much longer route.
Upon returning home, my roommate, Jack, looked in the Cecil Soil magazine and found an article about the Chesapeake City Bridge collapse that happened on August 30, 1938, which was 70 years to the day and probably the minute that this psychic experience occurred, I wonder if the victims of the collapse were not still there and reaching out to warn me about the bridge.

I was shocked to hear from a person at another church lunch that it had recently collapsed again a year or so ago claiming more victims. I, for one will never go on that bridge again. Psychic warnings are given for a reason and I believe we should all heed them, and rather be safe than be sorry.

posted on Fri, 09/05/2008 - 1:07pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Joanne, I'm very confused by your comment. Which bridge are you talking about? You mention the Chesapeake BAY Bridge in Chesapeake City, MD but the bridge that crosses there is called the Chesapeake CITY Bridge. It spans the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

The actual Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a much larger structure that crosses the bay and connects rural Maryland on the east with urban Maryland on the west.

I should add there's also a structure called the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-TUNNEL that connects the Delmarva Peninsula with southeastern Virginia.

But in any case, in your comment you mention a bridge collapse that took place on August 30, 1938. The problem with that date is that none of the three above structures existed at that time.

The Chesapeake BAY Bridge was opened in 1952 replacing a ferry. I could find no evidence of any collapse at any time. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-TUNNEL opened in 1964. No mention of collapses.

The Chesapeake CITY Bridge (which I think must be the one to which you're referring) was built in 1949, replacing a vertical lift bridge that had been there since the 1920s. This earlier lift bridge did collapse when it was rammed by a tanker. But that accident took place on July 28, 1942, practically four years after the date you mention.

Could you clarify your comment? Also, which issue of Cecil Soil are you referring to? I went to their website and found that past issues can be downloaded but knowing the exact one would save time. Thanks.

posted on Sat, 09/06/2008 - 12:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi I am Scottish so not having to over all these bridges, but at the age of 35 I developed a strange fear, irrational as it may seem, to tunnels, bridges, and motorways, and especially when there is a drop off to the side, and I am driving up an incline. I don't know how this came about, none of these things used to bother me at all. It seemed to start all of a sudden, I literally have been so panicked I would have done anything to stop my car right there and then, but generally if these panic attacks happen it is inevitably in a situation where I cannot stop my car or pull over, a tunnel for example. I only drive to local places now on roads I know and tend to drive at 30-45mph any faster seems to make my problems worse.

I absolutely hate being like this, and even more weird is that this is happening to my brother also who lives in Australia, who knew nothing of my problem.

I would love to find a solution to this.

posted on Tue, 09/16/2008 - 5:37pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hello, I have just read your comment, this has just started happening to me and is becoming ridiculous as it involves more and more any slight bend with an incline downwards. I am driving more and more slowly and when I see the exasperated drivers behind me I become more and more panicked. As everyone here says, it is worse since turning 40. Have you managed to get any help for it?

posted on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 1:50pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

oh, boy...i'm so glad i found this site. i have had this fear of driving over bridges for years! in the midwest, most of the bridges are really short, so it's not so bad. but the high bridge in st. paul!? forget it. the reason i found this site was because i'm looking for a way to get from DC to New Jersey without having to drive over the Delaware Bridge or bridges like it. surely there must be a normal kind of bridge somewhere between dc and PA, and then between PA and NJ?? i'm hoping AAA or somebody has this kind of routing info. i really am terrified that i'll black out in the middle of the bridge and crash into another car or the side of the bridge.

interesting, though. i've driven up through wilmington and down the state to get from DC to the shore, and the first time i did, i found myself, just after the turn to go south, on a very MODERN bridge that was pretty long and pretty high (though not in the delaware memorial bridge category). but because of the design of the bridge...big poles with cables holding up the bridge seemed very serene and modern and safe. and i laughed cuz i was in the middle of a bridge before i realized where i was.

posted on Sat, 09/20/2008 - 8:56am
CEL's picture
CEL says:

I am glad I've found this website too! We are planning a trip to Disney next month and my fear of flying prevents plane travel so we'll be driving. Well for the past two months I have been driving myself insane with fears of all the bridges I have to cross to get to FL from NY. I've always been "nervous" about bridges but enjoyed crossing them. I find my fear wratched up when I had kids. I have this horrendous fear of whatever I'm crossing collapsing into the water and having to save my babies. I'm almost to the point of wanting to cancel this trip. Reading about this Bay Bridge is making me sick - do I have to cross that if I'm taking 95 straight from NY to FL? I think I can deal with the CBBT - for some reason tunnels upset me but I can deal better than the bridge thing. I'm already dreading the Del-Mem bridge. I think it's a height thing for me and DEFINITELY the whole control thing - being a self-confessed control freak and (usually) proud of it. I think just sort of talking to all of you about it helps a bit too. When I hold that fear in it makes it worse - talking about it helps a bit. I don't feel so alone....

posted on Sun, 09/21/2008 - 8:28pm
jane's picture
jane says:

Hopefully you've already taken your trip to Florida by the time you get this, but no, you don't have to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on 95 from Ny to FL. I have to go to Florida soon too and will be taking the train...i can't fly either. It's so hard to live well in today's world with these problems.

posted on Wed, 11/12/2008 - 7:37am
John S.'s picture
John S. says:

My gephyrophobia developed as I got older; until my 40s I never gave bridges a second thought.

While I also have acrophobia (no “observation decks” for me), my bridge fear seems related to both bodies of water and human-built land structures, the latter something verified by an online source. Aircraft don’t bother me, I love to fly – go figure. But in a vehicle or on foot, anything other than the center of a low, wide bridge freaks me out.

The 35W bridge that collapsed here (THAT didn’t help) was always among my most dreaded in the Twin Cities, not because of structural concerns, but because it had a slight curve and low guardrails that made me feel like I’d go sailing off the side. The guardrails on some of the bridges here don’t seem tall enough to stop any vehicle. The slower-speed Hennepin Avenue Bridge, a short distance upriver, has substantial rails and is not troublesome.

In November ’06 I drove with a friend to visit her folks in Florida. I was eyeballing a road Atlas the entire trip, looking for ways to minimize river crossings, which is impossible. I white-knuckled it down there and back, and once asked her to take the wheel to cross a modest bridge over the Ohio River outside of Paducah, Kentucky. (It didn’t help; I leaned to the left from my passenger seat as we crossed.) Needless to say, I went nowhere near the monster Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa.

The new 35W bridge opened a couple weeks ago, about 80 feet wider than the previous bridge. As I suspected they would be, the guardrails are puny. I guess I’ll stay in the middle lanes.

posted on Mon, 10/06/2008 - 2:37pm
Muna_00's picture
Muna_00 says:


posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 1:19pm
dennie555's picture
dennie555 says:

Big bridge: The Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which stretches for four miles, can be a scary place for someone with gephyrophobia, the fear of crossing bridges. Enough people have fear problems there that a special program is available to hire drivers to take gephyrophobes across the bridge.I’ve learned a new word this week: gephyrophobia.It’s the fear of crossing bridges. The bridge collapse has most people a little more on edge when going over a bridge, but for some people it’s been like that for years.

posted on Thu, 11/13/2008 - 9:35pm
Dawn Dawn's picture
Dawn Dawn says:

I have lived in Gloucester Va for 14 years and have traveled many bridges along the eastern part of the country. Within the past year I have become increasingly paranoid about the White Stone Bridge in VA. I can pass any tunnel and cross the hampton roads and Gloucester bridges but the White Stone Bridge gives me a sense of panic. I feel hot and as if I may pass out. I know that I have traveled on this bridge before and that there is no rational reason for my feelings but am unable to control them. This bridge is only about a half mile long but very narrow and arched. I couldn't imagine going on a really long bridge.

posted on Thu, 11/13/2008 - 10:35pm
Paul's picture
Paul says:

My God! I read all of these posts, and must say that although I surely sympathize with you all, I'm glad to see that I ain't nuts!

The nightmare started for me about 10 years ago. I was driving a truck out of a rock quarry, fully loaded (25 tons) with 2-B asphalt stone. It started raining as I was heading up the steep incline out of the quarry.

Suddenly, the wheels were spinning...slipping...and me and the truck were going backwards. I pulled the brakes, but the struck continued sliding backwards. The loaders and folks below saw what was happening, and started running. They, and I, were convinced I was comming down the hill out of control.

To my right was a 100-ft. straight drop-off into the quarry. To my left was the side of the mountain. As I opened the door and was ready to jump out of the truck, I luckily spun the steering wheel, and the truck crashed into the side of the mountain. The giant loader pulled me and the truck to the top of the quarry, and that was that. No problem.

Two years go by, and not a problem with driving into the quarries, or over the many bridges between Jersey, and PA and DE. (I live in South Jersey).

I changed jobs, and took an over-the-road job with a company here. I made some deliveries in Pittsburgh, then dropped down through West VA to get to Roanoke, VA.

Be-bopping along, enjoying the ride and the scenery, I came to the New River Gorge Bridge. Unfortunately, I looked over the side, and was NAILED TO THE WALL with such fright and fear and panic that I was sure I was having a heart attack and was going to die. I couldn't move. I couldn't breath. My hands were soaked and I was so dizzy I couldn't see straight. I remember praying, God, please don't let me kill any kids when I pass out.
That was the day the nightmare began.

Now, I am down to being able to cross two bridges over the Delaware River into Philly. The Tacony-Palmyra, and the Burlington Bristol. I can drive all the way up and around I-95 and cross the Scudder Falls bridge, and go 1 hour out of my way, too, if I want. It's ridiculous.

I have quit so many good jobs because of this. Just the thought of having to cross the Del-Mem Br., or the Walt Whitman will keep me awake for 2 days, sweating like a whore in church. I just quit a GREAT dump truck job here in South Jersey because there was the mention that I might someday HAVE to go to Glen Mills, PA, requiring a trip over the Commodore Barry Bridge. Forget it!

Here I sit with my CDL-A-HazMat Tanker license, trapped, for all intents and purposes, on the Jersey Pennisula, for there are very few, if any, in-state driving jobs that IO've run across.

Monday, I swallow my shame and my pride, and go to the doctor.

posted on Fri, 11/14/2008 - 10:11am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I fear bridges because I fear I will freak out on the bridge, stop the car and in a panic to get off the bridge, I jump. This is how I feel on planes and boats too. On planes, I fear I will run to the door and open it up midflight. On boats, I fear I will panic and jump off. What is my fear about?

posted on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 4:10am
Friend of Peter's picture
Friend of Peter says:

The following message serves two purposes. I want to thank all posters by constributing with my personal observations. Secondly, it´s a message to my dear friend Peter, who, in a few days, will be my companion for an almost coast-to-coast car drive, from LA to Atlanta. Bridges will be challenges. We will have to find our way to overcome the insanely intimidating consequences of this... mental disorder.

My observations are... Alcohol helps (being... semi-drunk as passenger). However, alcohol, the day after, multiplies the anxiety attack by factor 100, passenger or not. Heavy fog helps, darkness too, but daytime fog is better (highly irrational). Eating a lot, preferably sugar (chocolate bars) can - sometimes - take the peak. Valium helps - to some, drousy degree. Plants, all kinds of "caging" and complex structures help (as opposed to slick surfaces and abstract, visually streamlined structures). Great personal succes (emotionally) immediately before passing, helps to some extent. Sorrow too. Being totally strapped up, escorted by military authorities may help (I think, no experience;-)). Music helps a little. Observing strict geometry too (eg squares, circles). Smalltalk (although staged and instrumental) works a little.

The observations goes for both heights and bridges (where the "what if I get stuck" is equivalent to "what if the elevator goes up instead of down"). As far as flying is concerned, alcohol is the cure, as I am not the pilot, but in the hands of... so much more.

Still, decisions can be made only on location. Haven´t got the skills, brain chemistry or power to plan ahead.

Great people helps, especially those whom you really trust and care for.

Håber vi kan leve med skavanker og omveje hvor nødvendigt. V

posted on Tue, 03/24/2009 - 2:52pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I could not understand what was happening to me. I am an ironworker who works daily with dangerous hieghts. Now the thought of crossing a bridge causes me to lose sleep. Some days are worse than others. The fear of passing out while driving on the bridge consumes me. It does start to disapate when I reach the crest of the bridge and I can see the "finish line". Living in Jersey I constantly drive to New York, Pennsy and Delaware so this is almost a daily thing. Has anyone had any success with supplements at all?

posted on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 12:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You will NOT pass out!

Now ask yourself: Have you EVER passed out in that situation before?? NO!!!

I know when it starts happening, it's the worst feeling ever. I have had if so many times myself... You start to feel dizzy as soon as you see the bridge, weird electric feeling inside your body, bad taste in the throat, weird feeling in lungs, sweaty all over, heart going crazy, reality seems to escape gradually and everything seems distant and in slow motion, vision gets weird and everyting gets progressively darker and cloudy... until... it gets better and you DON'T pass out and your are on the way down the bridge/out of the tunnel/out of the highway, etc....

Classic Panic attack.

I have firts taken ativan which helped a lot, but makes you sleepy all day and if you forget it, good luck on the bridge my friend... it is not a long term solution, but it helps short term.

I am now on effexor XR 225mg (2 years already), not for depression but for anxiety treatment. Works GREAT, but NO LIBIDO and erections difficult to maintain more than 10 minutes, so this is definetly not a long term solution... but it was necessary until I completed therapy, which I did and now I will phase out the effexor soon.

Now the psy: YOU NEED TO SEE ONE!!! . but find one that specialises in panic attack, dont be shy and ask them. dont lose time and $$. What he did with me is simple: CONVINCE ME I WOULD NOT PASS OUT WHILE DRINVING. that simple!!! but Hey I know what you are thinking: What if he is wrong and I do pass out??? thats why it will take some time before you feel better, but YOU WILL!!! because you know what? You WON'T pass out, EVER.

I finally believe it now! and it works.

When you look forward to crossing a bridge, you know you are cured... and guess what, this summer I am plannning a trip to Delaware from New York, and that monster Delaware Memorial bridge will be wainting for me... and I have a smile on my face.

Good luck and believe!!!


posted on Wed, 04/15/2009 - 7:05am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My husband, age 53, has developed a serious fear of bridges in the last 18 months. No event brought this on, it simply began with progressive fear and recurring nightmares about bridges with low, or no, sides. We live in New Orleans, surrounded by water. He is a salesman in the oil and gas industry, and this fear is beginning to affect his ability to call on good customers.

He hid it from me for a long time, until he blacked out from a panic attick on the Causeway (36 mile bridge to the North Shore of New Orleans.) No one was hurt, he pulled over, and I drove to get him.

We went to a psychiatrist, who simply gave him a strong dose of xanax. That doesn't work - it's as bad as drunk driving. I have tried to get him to go to a counselor to do some cognitive therapy (look at pics of bridges, work through the fear in a controlled, safe environment, then work up to walking a bridge, then work up to driving a bridge.)

He insists on conquering this himself. It isn't working - he has tried that for a year now, and he is no better.

The stress of the nightmares, wondering daily if a customer will call and he will have to cross a bridge to fix their emergency, etc. - it's taking its toll. He comes home completely depleted, so wound up from his nerves he needs a drink, or two, or more.

If anyone has had any, ANY, help from therapy, techniques, medication, a book, hypnosis, ANYTHING, could you please email me at nola.annie at

Thanks, and good luck to all.

posted on Thu, 04/30/2009 - 6:03pm
finisher's picture
finisher says:

I am 44 years old and had the exact same change with respect to driving over bridges. I remember driving over the Burlington Bay skyway in Ontario, Canada and laughing at my then girlfriend as I got too close to the outside lane. I never had any fear of driving over bridges until one day it just hit me, for no known reason.
I drive to Forida every year and I am okay with the Pittsburgh bridge, it seems the ones with some type of structure on the sides, (and with a little height to the sides) are okay. When I travel through Summersville WV, the really high Gauley bridge with the low cement sides seems to bother me.
Normally by the time I get by the crest and am on my way down I get a sense of relief, but knowing the bridge is coming brings on anxiety.
If you have any information that helps please send it to me.
Hope things are getting better for your husband.


posted on Mon, 06/15/2009 - 9:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

OMG! What is happening to me. I am 39 years old. I have a fear of driving over bridges. I believe this is due to a scrary childhood event & I saw a very bad accident on the C&D Canel bridge as an adult which triggered my childhood memory. The past few times driving over a bridge my panic has gotten worse. Yesterday driving over the bridge to long beach island, nj I just froze up. I wanted to stop in the middle of the bridge and get out of my car. I am afraid that I am going to cause an accident. I believe from what I have read that my brain has learned that there is danger associated with bridges. Even though I tell myself that it is okay to cross, there is nothing to be afraid of. The "fight or flight" kicks in and my brain takes over and tells my body to react to the fear. I need to stop this. It will ruin my life if I let it. I am stonger then this fear. I have to retrain my brain in some way. I am going to look into some program called "the driving fear program". I hope something helps. If anyone has any suggestions please post a response on this website.
Trying to get to the other side.

posted on Mon, 05/04/2009 - 8:38pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Try looking down at the floor inside the vehicle if you really start getting dizzy. This helps me focus for awhile, but be careful not to hit anyone in front of you. You have to look at the road and the floor about every 4 seconds. Caffeine and fatigue seem to trigger it quicker. Also try singing that also helps. This all sounds crazy but if you have to make a living than, this is what you have to do. Roll all the windows down to get fresh air, that seems to help.

Good Luck!

posted on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 12:08am
denise's picture
denise says:

i have been searching for a cure and came across a technique that i would love to try but it is not available around here (chester county, pa). it is a virtual program where you really really feel as if you are approaching and then driving over a very steep bridge when looking through this apparatus. eventually, you become immune to the bridge.

posted on Wed, 05/20/2009 - 5:59pm
Mike Paget's picture
Mike Paget says:

I live in Dallas and the best suggestion would be to displace your thoughts. In other words, have and intense thought about something else such as work, bills, or other basic life issues. Before you know it, your done. So many people focus on the bridge that it magnifies the irrational thought. Just imo..

posted on Sat, 06/13/2009 - 4:10am
Mickey's picture
Mickey says:

This is both reassuring and oddly extremely comforting.
I never realised that there was name for this condition other than panic attack!
I live in London and there are a couple of overpasses which give me real "panic" problems.
I also go to St Pete's area in Tampa area in Florida quite alot and although the Sunshine Skyway Bridge used to be OK for me, lately it has been a real struggle (now my wife drives while I keep my eyes shut!).
Once I cross the apex I instamtly feel better which seems totally illogical.
There have some valuable potential solutions to this challenge which I will think about.
Thanks for all of this I feel I'm in good company!

posted on Tue, 07/07/2009 - 3:22am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I just happened upon this site and am amazed to read how many people (everywhere) suffer from the same problems I have. The memory of my first real panic attack (while driving) is as clear as day to me. I was 35, pregnant for the first time, and was waiting as usual in heavy traffic to merge onto the 14th Street Bridge into Washington, DC. It was a rainy, dark day and the traffic came to a dead stop on the bridge. The panic attack would be the first of so many while driving. I avoided the 14th ST Bridge (still do, on rainy days) and suffered through panic on the Memorial Bridge often. I think my problem is primarily claustrophobia -- not being able to exit or go onto a shoulder if I need to. One time my husband hurt his back so I had to drive home from NY to VA. My son was about 7. I made it over the Delaware Memorial Bridge (I think because it's so wide) but then we came to a long narrow bridge (Severn River??) before Baltimore. It was down to one lane in each direction with jersey barriers lining each side. I went into complete panic, my speed got slower and slower, and my little boy was urging me on, "Mommy, keep going, keep going". (Bless his heart, he has grown into a strong and brave young man!) I am OK as a passenger going over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, but can't drive over it. I would feel like such a failure to use the drive-over service. I worry about that darn Severn River bridge if I go the 95N to Delaware route. This disorder really limits and ruins your life. I'm braver than I used to be but still suffer with this. I empathize with everyone out there, and it is somehow to comforting to know I'm not alone!! I don't think it's all in our minds; I think there are hormonal or other medical things going on at certain ages that play a part!

posted on Wed, 07/08/2009 - 5:12pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just reading the descriptions give me anxiety. The arch is a big fear for me and I have a fear of heights also. We are on vacation and my family wants to go out to the islands. I am studing the bridges on google streets and wiki, it allows me to see before I go.

I take dramamine to fly here do I need to take it to cross the bridge? At this point I am not promising them anything.

posted on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 8:17am
Anoous's picture
Anoous says:

Is this weired never ad a problem with a bridge gone over same 1 4 over 20 years I can't do it now I can't explain how it how it feels it's an over whelming rush panic attack all in 1 my sister think it's realted 2 the death of my mum last year I don't think it is I av a 5 yr old neice I i wanna do stuff with cudnt even take her on Pier at coast I don't wanna keep missing out on things this isn't me never ad problem b4,any advice is truly welcomed

posted on Sat, 12/13/2014 - 7:26pm
Andy C.'s picture
Andy C. says:

Wow. I also study up on if there'll be bridges on my route when I travel. I'm not at the point where I avoid them (and I swore to myself I never would get to that point), but it's not a pleasant experience, and I feel like I've really conquered something when I go over a bridge. The weird thing is, though, I feel more comfortable as the driver than as the passenger in those situations. I'd rather have control over my car than cede it to someone else. Weird, I know, especially because some highway commissions have put money into escort programs for people who are not good with bridges.
Here's what I do to prepare to scale a bridge, maybe it'll help: At the closest exit to the bridge, get a hot cup of coffee (decaf!). CRANK the music in your car. Roll down the windows. In my experience, the volume of the music, the heat from the coffee and the air blowing past me stoked my senses and transcended the vertigo-like feeling i normally get. I even told my therapist (who I go to for general anxiety) and she said that was a good proactive way to cope and deal with the uneasiness. Anyway, good luck to everyone -- we can get through this stuff!

posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 10:42am
none-of-your-buisness's picture
none-of-your-buisness says:

i have the fear but its very, very mild. haveing it as bad as you do sounds icky!!!

posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 4:20pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yesterday, was the first time I experienced anxiety while crossing the Bay Bridge span. My palms got sweaty which made me anxious. But once I got closer to the top I felt better. On the way back today, the same thing happened only it felt even worse. The next time on the westbound trip I will ride in the center lane. Maybe this will help. It was a very uncomfortable feeling. I think it's the high arch, because I don't have a problem driving across other bridge spans. I even glance over the others because the scenery is so beautiful. Does anyone have any tips to help me on my next trip over Bay Bridge.

posted on Sat, 07/25/2009 - 3:45pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My only advice would be, as my son said to me when he was little, "Keep going!" The only way to conquer a fear is to confront it. I'm trying to follow my own advice and get up the nerve to drive over the Bay Bridge. Remember to breathe, bring a nice cup of coffee or a snack and turn up the music loud. That's what I'm going to do!

posted on Sat, 08/08/2009 - 3:15pm
Jerri D.'s picture
Jerri D. says:

Well it is quite comforting to know that I'm not the only one out there and there's actually a name for the way I've been feeling. The whole thing is rather strange considering that I spent most of my life on the road. I wasn't always afraid of bridges and can't quite think of anything outstanding that makes me feel the way I do. I used to live in the city and could drive over bridges just fine. It's fairly recently I went across a bridge in Shreveport and I was by myself when I started almost hyperventilating, feeling light headed, could feel my heartbeat almost pump right out of my chest, sweating and almost completely bringing myself to tears especially when i realized there was no where i could pull over. I took a trip to New Orleans this weekend and of course I was driving (something I love to do) and we came to cross a suspension bridge, I'm assuming there was water under it as well I couldn't bare to even look at it, I pulled over on the side of the highway before I even got to it and let my fiance drive while I wasn't looking at any of my surroundings I seemed just fine. I've tried turning up the radio to a song I love blasting the a/c or even had people there to talk with me while crossing a bridge and nothing seems to help. If anyone has any luck overcoming a fear like this please DO POST! Thank you.

posted on Sun, 08/16/2009 - 8:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

after my dad died in june, i cant drive over bridges without having severe panic attack which is compounded by fear i will pass out and slam into the wall and cause huge disruption on the manhattan bridge.

i have always loved driving and have never experienced anything like this before. i get so nervous now i tell myself over and over its all in my mind im ok i can do it but as soon as i reach the point where i cant pull over or exit and i see the manhattan skyline on the other side i start to literally freak out. i cant breathe, my eyes are trying to roll back in my head, my chest gets very tight and i think im going to pass out. i start hitting myself in the face to keep from passing out.

its insane! out of nowhere ive developed an intense phobia. its truly fascinating.

posted on Wed, 09/02/2009 - 11:20am
JohnnyO's picture
JohnnyO says:

Thank god for this page I thought I was going nuts. I work in an office building with an large atrium that opens up to all the floors in a big oval. About five years ago I was working on the fifth floor and noticed that I couldn't go too close to the railing anymore because I felt instantly dizzy and anxious. The strangest part was I felt like my body was going to lift up and fly over the edge.

It was very scary but I would try daily to see how close I could come to the edge and get over my fear. It never happened. However I know how close I can go without being freaked out and now stay in that area. I never experienced any problems driving though.

Well that was it until I decided to take a road trip a couple of summers ago. I planned to drive all over the east coast to see old friends and family. Everything was fine until I got to large arch bridges. I experienced the same feeling as the railing at work only now I was driving. I had to stay in the middle lanes and look straight ahead while my hands sweat and shook and I felt a fear I had never known before.

As I proceeded from place to place it got worse, to the point where I canceled seeing some friends after I looked at the map and realized I'd have to go over two long bridges. This totally sucks! Now I negotiate even smaller bridges and feel like I'm starting to lose the ability to freely go wherever I want.

I never had a problem with heights until I reached 33. Its been 5 years now. No known past issues that brought it on either. Heck I used to work construction and jump around on ladders and open floor joists looking to the floors below. I remember dragging my frightened sister over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and laughing at her. Now I can't even think of going across.

I don't know what brought this on but I think it is all related to panic attacks and not wanting to lose control.
I will continue to fight it and will conquer this irrational fear soon. I hope. Good luck to everyone else!

posted on Tue, 09/15/2009 - 3:59pm
Ronnie M.'s picture
Ronnie M. says:

Wow. I thought I was loosing my mind!!!!! I live in Louisiana and just passed through Baton Rouge and while crossing over the Mississippi river I had something happen to me, my whole body tensed up and I had a frightening feeling I was going to fall off the bridge. I wanted to stop my truck, get out and lie on the road. Once I was off i pulled over to relax and wonder what just happend to me. It was like a switch went off in me and I can't explain it, what was even stranger I knew I should not feel this way and I kept asking myself what are you doing??? what is wrong with you!!!! I was not my first time across that bridge. I am not sure how I will proceed from now on.

posted on Wed, 09/16/2009 - 1:30pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that I have Gephyrophobia thanks for the website without you I wouldn't have known the word! Thanks!

posted on Tue, 09/22/2009 - 11:08am
Sydney's picture
Sydney says:

As many others have posted, my first panic attack came on suddenly and complete unexpectedly. I was 24 and in the middle of a tunnel in Baltimore. Since then, I have struggled terribly with high bridges and tunnels. I also think it has to do with claustrophobia, and also possibly with optical effects. The first time I hyperventilated; since then I try hard to control my breathing, but everything else is out of my control--racing heart, dry mouth, sweaty palms, tingling in my hands on the wheel. I absolutely feel that I don't have control of the wheel, and it's terrifying. I've tried singing, counting, rolling down the windows, turning down the visor to limit the view from a bridge or the glaring lights in a tunnel, having someone talk to me to distract me, thinking about other things...nothing works. The problem is that there is no escape--you're trapped. I've read tons about phobias but NOTHING applies to the fear of tunnels and bridges. It's not like being afraid of spiders or heights or going into a shopping mall. If you have a panic attack on a bridge or in a tunnel and you freeze, you are endangering your life, the life of your passengers, and others in cars around you. I think it's serious stuff and I wish therapists would focus on this particular fear rather than classifying it with a lot of other non-life threatening fears. Most of us are not afraid of low bridges and there is not a way to "work up gradually" to something like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It's just a terrifying monster. Maybe those of us who are afraid of it are really the sane ones! I too welcome any suggestions, but it seems like this fear may be too tough, and legitimate, to overcome.

posted on Mon, 09/28/2009 - 12:00pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've known that I'm Gephyrophobic for about 20 years now, but after reading this article, it makes perfect sense to me. I have always been claustrophobic and it took me a bit longer, maybe my 20s to discover that I'm also acrophobic. If too many people get into an elevator, I'll run out and wait for the next elevator, which can cause problems. My fear of heights is more surrounded with fear of falling, although I can just look at a photograph or watch a movie with a steep drop and I'll get a queasy stomach and a tingling behind my knees. My fear of bridges does not extend to all bridges, but alas, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is one that gets to me. I'm fine until you get to the steep rise to the suspension area. Once I'm actually in the suspension area, I'm fine. So long as there is a high side on the bridge, I'm alright, my fear is the looking down. I live in Northern NJ, near the GWB and I have no problem on that bridge. I have more problem crossing the Tappan Zee bridge going eastbound than westbound because while driving eastbound the bridge curves to the right and you can look down and see how high you are, westbound doesn't have that effect. While driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, I use the rest stop to help alleviate my anxiety while crossing the suspension part. The worst attack I ever suffered was in August 2001. I had to attend a wedding in Leesburg, Virginia and on the way home, I had to drop my children off in Wildwood Crest for vacation with their father. I had a Trip-tic from AAA and they had me cut across Maryland and take this small bridge over the Chesapeake Bay (going east and west). After going through the toll plaza, I thought I was going to die. It was, without a doubt, the worst case scenario I'd ever experienced! Not only did the bridge go straight up, but there were 2 lanes going eastbound and two lanes going westbound and you not only could see over the right side of the bridge into the water, but you can see over the left side, in between the middle of the bridge into the water. For the first time in my life, I truly understood a Panic Attack. There was no shoulder on either side of this bridge and all I could do was drive. My knuckles were white and I think I held my breath the entire time. I'm so grateful it wasn't a windy day because I was driving a minivan, which get hard to handle on bridges also. I wish I remember the name of that bridge so that I NEVER have to cross it again as long as I live! Once is more than enough for me. If the bridges are low or have high sides, such as the Delaware Memorial Bridge, I'm fine, the height and more the fear of going off the bridge that frightens me. Sometimes I think Hollywood is partially to blame. We watch these wonderful movies and they show terrifying events, like cars going over suspension bridges, which makes us all aware of the possibility and then life goes ahead to mimics the movies and now we all know it's possible!

posted on Sun, 10/04/2009 - 11:17am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If you can’t handle driving over a stinking bridge, you shouldn’t be driving at all! You are not emotionally equipped to handle the stress of driving. Instead of pacifying people by inventing a spiffy term to classify abnormalities, therefore giving those ‘afflicted persons’ the comfort of knowing they are not the only weirdo’s, people should be encouraged to deal with anxieties with their brain instead of their emotions. I know, I know, it’s more fashionable in today’s society to play the victim. However you people are serving as poor examples to your children! Happy people do not live their life in fear!

posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:24am
Thor's picture
Thor says:

It appears to me that empathy is not a word in your personal vocabulary.

posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:09am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Yeah, that's a little harsh. The thing about gephyrophobia is that it is phobia. That means it's an irrational fear that's largely uncontrollable. Haven't you ever met a big, tough looking person who's afraid of needles or blood? Or an animal lover who can't deal with spiders? These aren't intentional reactions played for sympathy, but automatic responses.

Like... ah.. ok. People who pass out at the sight of blood. Are they playing the victim and serving as poor examples to their children? Are they emotionally unequipped to handle living in this blood-filled world?

Or claustrophobia, that's a pretty common one. A lot of people freak out when they're in enclosed spaces, even when they rationally understand that they're safe. It's not a character flaw, but a mental response (and a physiological one, I suppose) that I have no doubt they would be rid of i na second if they were able. And it's just triggered by enclosed spaces instead of bridges.

It's not a big deal, and it sounds like it's not exactly what you imagine it to be.

posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 11:28am
sezme's picture
sezme says:

I can see that you've never walked in anyone's shoes but your own. I hope they last forever.

posted on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 8:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

UHM...why are you snooping around this website if you feel this way? 'Gephyrophobia' isn't a common term. Did you learn about this in school? Perhaps a psyche class? And then decided that you would just 'GOOGLE' it to see who was having difficulty? And if you're so 'HAPPY' then why spend your time spitting out negativity to all of those who have this particular phobia...or any phobia for that matter!!! God hath not given us a spirit of fear...I agree...but satan is powerful and will do anything to undermine our sense of self worth and security. The only reason I meandered in here today is because I too...without reason...have begun experiencing this anxiety of driving over bridges. And it's because I am realizing that this is irrational and quite possibly dangerous for me to be driving under these circumstances...over bridges. So I'm here...looking for answers. I want it to go away. I've always loved bridges...ferris wheels...roller coasters. Why now...why am I scared now? It has to be a control issue. It's not all bridges. It's the curvey ones...the high traffic ones...the HIGH ones. I get so frightened that my speed decreases and I just want to get off the bridge. Perhaps pull over even. I'm okay as a's driving over that I have a problem with. Shame on you up there for being so ignorant. Okay so we have no reason to be real or's a phobia that just pops up and we have to learn to handle it the best way we can.

posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 4:46pm
dentgal's picture
dentgal says:

to "Anonymous", who says "happy people do not live their life in fear".
How ironic that he/she calls themselves "Anonymous"--i guess "anonymous" is fearful of using their REAL name for fear of backlash from their cruel and misguided comments.....
labelling an illness, disease, condition, or in this case, phobia, does not give the "afflicted"(to quote you!) any sense of is simply a classification.....
actually, it is beneficial in the healing process to know that you are not alone with the symptoms, and this forum is also an opportunity to share strategies to help tackle the problem.....
let's hope you never had any problems in your life....and if you do, perhaps you may find others who are more sympathetic to your situation.....

posted on Sun, 09/07/2014 - 6:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Excellent response JG, however your examples have no relation to safely controlling a vehicle, unless a spider bites you while driving in a small car and blood starts spurting about uncontrollably, but that’s a story for another day :) . Bottom line is if someone has ‘uncontrollable’ anxiety attacks under certain driving conditions, we shouldn’t want to share the road with that person. Empathy for someone who has an irrational fear of slugs is fine, putting my family at risk is not. Safe driving is a civil responsibility!

posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 8:58am
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

Hmm. Good point.

I suppose it's up to folks with these sorts of phobias to be conscious of the reactions they might experience while driving, and to pick routes that won't exacerbate their anxiety. Maybe it's not a great analogy, but... like someone who is night blind. You wouldn't tell them that they can't drive at all, or that they should buck up and start seeing better at night, but you might expect them only to use a vehicle when/where they can control it safely.

Dunno. I'm not night blind or gephyrophobic, nor is my car full of spiders, needles and blood, so I should probably leave it there.

posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:52am
sezme's picture
sezme says:

I stumbled upon this site as so many others have looking for a reason for and some type adjustment to my fear of driving over steep bridges over water. My wife and I love vacationing in Myrtle Beach, SC. My GPS took us to (-95) and over to Myrtle Beach with no bridges to cross. It took longer and my wife did not want to return home this way. She wanted to return through Charleston, SC. Before we got to Charleston, I could see this tall bridge way in the distance. The panicy build up started as I continued to get closer to the bridge. When I approached the bridge, my body started to feel lighter. I switched to the inside lane as my wife stated, "Look at the pretty ocean". I sternly kept both hands on the steering wheel and stared straight ahead. I started to feel lighter, my heart raced, and I began to have the same thoughts as so many others on this site have stated. "What if I lose control?" It's not a fear of dying, it's a fear of loss of control and you are not causing it. It's like something is taken over your body. I didn't always have this fear. I noticed the trend of responses on the site. Everyone talks about this starting later in life. I am now attributing this type of panic attack to reduction in hormones. Those computer designers could help us all by designing a virtual climbing bridge program for our computers. Thank God for this site. We are all sane.

posted on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 8:34pm
wellgood3's picture
wellgood3 says:

Hi, I know you posted this a while ago, but thought I'd check with you. I would love to get to a beach but have a bridge phobia. I've tried to mapquest a route from Va. to Myrtle Beach without bridges; from what you said, I won't go through Charleston. 95 did not have a bridge?

posted on Sun, 04/04/2010 - 7:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I stumbled on this because I am google my recent fear of driving over high overpasses in Dallas. Full blown panic attack that i amazed I survived.

Has anyone suecessfully triend hypnosis,. Just wondering. It is so weird that it starts when you are over 40 and for no real reason.

Please post thoughts and ideas..thanks.

posted on Mon, 11/09/2009 - 2:33am
Frank's picture
Frank says:

I must say that reading these comments has, unfortunately, not made me feel better.

I drove a truck for many years over all kinds of bridges in and around the NYC area, including the ridiculously narrow Goethals and Outerbridge crossings from Staten Island to NJ. Never any problem - and still have no problem with bridges with which I'm very familiar.

My problem developed in the last few years - I am 58 now - and I have NO idea where it came from. I am, however, convinced it is related to acrophobia - driving over any high structure is most troubling, even if it is not over water.

Same panic attack symptoms - I get white-knuckled and put a death grip on the steering wheel, my entire body seems to go rigid and I slow way down. Right lane? Impossible. Even on and off ramps are a problem if they are high.

The anxiety starts days before, if I know I'm traveling. I will no longer drive from NYC to DC because of the Del Mem Bridge and some of the structures getting through Baltimore.

Odd, though, that it started late in life, and I have very little problem with familiar bridges - no matter how high.

posted on Sun, 11/29/2009 - 7:13am
Sophie's picture
Sophie says:

I remember riding in the car with my mom when I was little, and she would drive in the middle of the 2 lanes across the Mackinac bridge. She definitely could have used that service I think.

posted on Tue, 12/15/2009 - 8:58pm
stuckinde's picture
stuckinde says:

Amazing to read all the blogs on this subject. I live in DE, and over the past 5 years I have begun feeling more and more trapped in the state by the fact that to get ANYWHERE outside of DE I have to cross a bridge. My fear also hit me suddenly around age 40 when driving across the Ches/Bay Bridge to MD. I definitely experience it on arched bridges with "spires" and open sides and I do have some bit of success driving over flat bridges that are lower to the water (Kent Narrows for example). It was just amazing to read how similar many people's symptoms are to my own. My symptoms have already been spelled out by so many of you who blogged before me. I truly feel as though I am going to faint, my legs and arms become almost numb and I feel as though I can hardly sense the fact that I have my hands on the wheel or my foot on the pedal. It is more than terrifying. I have tried everything and it only gets worse. Over the past couple years it progressed to the point where I can't even drive to northern DE & cross the C&D canal on the beautiful, modern bridge. The fear creeps up about 10 minutes before I reach it and just gets worse. Taking my mother/brother/sister-in-law over it last Oct. on their way to the Philly airport I really thought I would pass out from a heart attack. I voiced my growing concern to them once we hit the beginning of the bridge, which was too late. We made it over; they were scared by my extreme fear and it took me at least 10 minutes afterward for my heartrate to go down and my numbness to wear off. Last week I had to take my 16 year old to an appointment at a specialist in Wilmington & I had to pull over on the side of the highway & switch to have her (a brand-new driver) take us over the bridge both ways. I hate how this has limited my freedom---I used to feel so "ready" to head out to anything anywhere. Can't even go up to University of DE to visit my other child by myself---have to wait until hubby or someone else can accompany me. How debilitating. I honestly would like to move so as not to have to feel so confined. I am going to try taking a beta blocker prior to the next time we head up towards the C&D canal to see if the effect allows me to drive over that darned bridge---I'll "report back" afterward with the outcome. There is NO WAY I would ever consider trying the Chesapeake Bay Bridge or CB Bridge Tunnel anymore. One interesting note: I was on a school trip, on a school bus in 11th grade traveling from DE to VA and we had an accident on the CB Bridge Tunnel. The front of our bus was actually pushed up against the railing and caused the railing to bend outward. We evacuated out the back of the bus, waited on the bridge and were taken via police cars back to the shore. I don't know if that incident was "latent" in my mind and finally kicked in with a vengance. In any case, I agree with another blogger that more research and attention needs to be focused on this because lives are most definitely at stake when someone has a full-blown panic attack on a bridge.

posted on Tue, 01/26/2010 - 5:21pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


You probably read my previous post here, but here is two thoughts that can definetly help you:

-As soon as you start feeling the bad symptoms, scream as loud (REALLY LOUD!!!) as you can, an as agressively as you can, ala heavy metal style...for at least 30 seconds. AND KEEP YOU BREATHING SLOW! the screaming will use the adrenaline buildup that is making you feel soooooo bad... That is a foolproof trick I got from my psy.

-Remember: YOU WILL NOT FAINT!!! You have read the posts... Did you read about anyone fainting? No you did not! The elevation in blood pressure brought on by the panic attack makes it impossible to faint, as fainting is a low blood pressure affair...

And drop the cofee, it is a major panic attack igniter...

Good luck!

posted on Thu, 01/28/2010 - 7:57pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It is not natural to travel in one ton metal boxes at 50 mph over bridges. The fact that so many here developed this phobia in middle age must be that their system is not as strong and resilient (and their mind not as naive?). Cognitive therapy is the only way to get past the phobia. See a counsellor who specializes in phobias.

posted on Tue, 02/02/2010 - 5:39am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

PS: Pills will not help, only Cognitive Therapy!

posted on Tue, 02/02/2010 - 5:42am
Old Biker's picture
Old Biker says:

Wow - I found this while looking up valium and how to get some. I am 55 and never had this issue before. My wife an I bought a very expensive touring motorcycle to see the country on. Well you can image . . I freak out just thinking about having to cross a bridge or drive on the side of a very steep hillside - like on the WVA turnpike on a
MOTORCYCLE. If I am familair with the bridge I am fine. If I am the passenger I am fine. If I know the bridge is coming in 50 miles I panic for 50 miles. Having the wife "talk" me thru it helps alot. When I am frightened she is even more frightened. The group we ride with are supportive to a point - As spring approaches I am getting worried I will not be able to ride the bike anymore.

posted on Sat, 02/13/2010 - 10:14pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i dont fear crossing bridges, but i do fear flying in airplanes. my mom recently went to dallas, texas by plane and i was worried the entire week about if herplane would crash or not... i just hear so many stories about plane crashes that my mind automatically thinks about crashes and deaths and suffering families when i hear the word airplane. but that's just me.....

posted on Sun, 02/14/2010 - 3:43pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I just recently moved from Michigan (pretty much a flat state) to South Carolina. I can't bellieve what happens to me when I drive these curving, hilly roads or have to cross a bridge! I get woozy, very shaky, and my heart pounds. I feel like I'm going to lose control of the car or tip over. The other day I unexpected had to cross a long bridge and had to drive in the middle of the two lane road to get to the end of the bridge because I thought I was going to tip over or crash! Thank goodness there were no on- coming cars, but I'm sure the drivers behind me thought I was a crazy person. I finally had to pull off the curving, hilly road because I couldn't go any further. Called a couple I know to come get me so I wouldn't have to drive back. Is this crazy? I really would like to know what I can do to get over this because in South Carolina you can't get away from bridges, curving and hilly roads. Thank you.

posted on Sat, 03/27/2010 - 11:37am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've suffered from gephyrophobia for almost 10 years. When I was younger I would do fine riding in the car over the The Chesapeake Bay Bridge to visit family in DE. But when I got to age where I could drive it started.

My husband does the driving for us now but I remember one time when we were still dating he made a joke about the bridge collapsing while we were driving over one of the tallest bridges in our city. I had a panic attack and almost passed out. He's never done it since.

The problem I have is with friends who think I'm joking or lying about my phobia.

posted on Thu, 04/01/2010 - 12:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I can relate to fear of tall bridges and acrophobia. I've had acrophobia since I was in my '20s (I'm 58 now), and tall bridges, esp. tall highway interchange bridges that are being built all of the Dallas area now, pose a huge problem for me. Even to the extent that I avoid certain highways. TxDot is building more and more of these huge high interchanges, and all I want to do is move to a small town so I never have to drive on a busy highway with tall interchanges ever again.

BTW, there is a University study and treatment program now in development, and SMU is participating, to treat fear of bridges and acrophobia. Anyone interested might check out their psychology dept..

posted on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 10:20am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am starting to find youtube vids of the bridges that you have problem with, watch it at home and it may help to get you immune to the feeling..
That and dont take caffeine and watch your sugar intake, make sure you have been fed with a decent meal.
withdraw from any drugs may make it worst..

posted on Thu, 04/29/2010 - 1:23pm
Francyne's picture
Francyne says:

For the past few years, my fear of elevators worsened. I used to just hate being in them for fear that I would get trapped. Now, I do not get in them at all. I avoid meetings and visiting people where I would have to take an elevator. I can walk up a number a steps, but living in NYC, most places are in very tall OLD buildings. Same with bridges. I used to hate them, would panic while crossing them, but, as of last weekend, I cannot go over them anymore. As I was coming back from Atlantic City, I had to cross four of five bridges, each were higher and a few very narrow. But, anticipating that drive across them caused a major panic attach and I had to get off the highway because I cannot go over bridges at all. I become paralyzed and panic stricken.It feels like I am going to go off the side. The traffic feels like all the cars are going to run me down. This is terrible now. I need help. I am now 42 and I thought surely I would be able to set my mind to doing it, but I could not. I could not get home this weekend and I was 20 minutes outside of New York (but there were three or four bridges ahead of me to get me to NY and home). When I pulled off the highway, I pulled into a rest stop with my daughter, grandson and dog and started asking strangers to drive me across the bridges -- no would help. I spent 12 hours sitting in my car wondering how I was going to get home, since no one would help me. Then I psyched myself into thinking that I could do it and jumped back onto the highway and within 30 seconds, I had the worst panic attack and pulled over on the busiest highway and put my family and my own life in jeopardy. I called 911 and they sent a tow truck, who I paid over $300 to drive us across the bridges into NY.

I need help. I cannot live this way. Thanks for sharing and for allowing me to share too. Everything helps.

posted on Thu, 05/27/2010 - 7:05pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I had to go into San francisco yesterday and realized that when appoaching the Golden Gate Bridge I had a fear (phobia). I thought it was
the chemotherpy that I was on but the doctor said the chemo has only
physical effects. I realize now I have a fear of bridges and heights and
there is psychotherpy that can treat this. When we have fears repressed in our subconcious they can manifest as a phobia. I am off to
a therpist and determined to conquer this phobia. Afterall I have only had
this phobia for one year and am told that phobias can be easily treated...... Healing is avaliable............And there are great things to do and see on the other side of the bridge :)

posted on Sat, 05/29/2010 - 11:24am
Buffalo Bill's picture
Buffalo Bill says:

WOW. I am so happy I found this site. Like many of you, I've JUST RECENTLY developed extreme anxiety/panic attacks while driving across bridges. I'm 37 years old, in absolutely perfect health and other than an extremely minor (and healthy I think) fear of heights, i suffer from no other known physical or mental health issues. About 3 months ago I noticed that I got really tense when driving over this long bridge. My hands got sweaty, I got a prickly feeling in my feet and for some reason I thought I was going to pass out and go over the side even though I've never passed out in my entire life! So that was 3 months ago. Now I literally become paralyzed at the thought of driving over large bridges or overpasses. The last time I got trapped on one it was all I could do to keep it together and make it to the other side. Like many of you I slowed way down, moved to the center and just tried to keep my eyes on the road directly in front of me. My hands were sweating again, I was breathing very shallowly even though I was trying to breath deeply and my arms kept making these tiny jerky movements on the steering wheel. I made it but I'm currently driving about 20 minutes out of my way to and from work everyday to avoid 2 large bridges. It was so reassuring to find this site and find so many other who are suffering from so many of the same symptoms. They're debilitating and humiliating and I so wish there was more research into this phobia. Anyone here from Buffalo, NY? My main terrors around here are the "Skyway" -- lol ... who designed that death trap anyways??? -- and the Grand Island bridges. Anyone familiar with these? Anyhow, thanks to everyone who shared their stories. I don't think any of them will help me with this issue but it's so good to know I'm not alone and that my phobia is more than just a punchline for my friends.

posted on Sat, 05/29/2010 - 12:06pm
LWP's picture
LWP says:

Same here Bill! I avoid those and can't for the life of me understand why. Went over them for years and years without a second thought. Now, screw that.

posted on Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:42pm
LadyGuinevere61's picture
LadyGuinevere61 says:

My phobias are what brought me here and I see that I am in company with many others, which I don't wish on anyone. Unfortunately as I have experienced, one phobia usually spreads and develops into many if not treated. I started with agoraphobia/social anxiety as young as 14, afraid to go into the school cafeteria because it was so large with a high ceiling, voices of students talking echoed and made me dizzy. Was diagnosed with vertigo.Then that fear progressed to elevators, heights, then bridges, now the fear of escalators, which relates to the fear of heights. also fear of the Beltway surrounding Washington, D.C., the Harry Nice and Woodrow Wilson Bridges.Dentists, MRI machines, tall buildings, the second floor of the shopping mall... So as you can see, my life has become quite crippled. Medication only makes me more nervous. Oh, and I also have trouble walking on piers over water. BUT I LOVE THE BEACH! So I feel completely disabled. But I am here researching hoping that the more I familiarize myself with that which I fear, it will take the edge off and give me more confidence. Unlike others who've posted, my phobia started at a young age, but has worsened, and branched off into many. I have several books on the subject, and one suggestion is to train yourself to go into "alpha" state. Ever get somewhere and can't remember the trip? This is alpha. it is just like the state you're in just as you begin to fall asleep, but are still fully awake. it is a state of intense concentration on that other than conscious thought and complete relaxation. What is suggested is that you practice several times a day going into alpha state and learning to voluntarily put yourself in this state in order to maintain control when doing fearful things. Through psychotherapy with a good psychologist, I've discovered that fear is a learned behavior and then is reinforced by habit (read about Pavlov's dog) . So I know I have to retrain my thought processes when exposed to fearful situations, but the only real way to do that is exposure therapy. So you have to be willing to become fearful and to have a panic attack to learn to control it. Every small victory counts and builds confidence to move onto the next challenge. Once the neuro-pathways have been set, they become basically permanent, unless we work hard to change them, which is hard, but possible. I'm working on it now, and like I said, if I can drive from my house to the next town on the main road, instead of taking the back road, then I've won at least a small victory over fear, which is better than none. Suggested reads-- "You Can Feel good Again"--Richard Carlson, "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway"--Susan Jeffers..Good Luck Everyone!

posted on Mon, 05/31/2010 - 11:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've been suffering with panic attacks while driving for about 2-3 years now, and I feel PART of the reason they've worsened is b/c of a particular bridge I cross to enter the big city.

This bridge is old and ready to fall to pieces. Construction crews have shifted it 10" to the right. Semi's are no longer allowed on the bridge. 1 lane has been closed in each direction. Even before this bridge was officially deemed unsafe and in need of repair, I had a fear of it. Every time I'd come home from college/work, I'd get vertigo-like symptoms on this bridge and feared that I'd black out at any moment from extreme dizziness and feeling "not all there." I was afraid to pull over b/c the side of the highway is not very wide, and I can't relax when I feel like people will be watching me as they pass.

About a month ago I went over this bridge again--same vertigo symptoms, but more intensified. I wasn't even anxious about crossing it this time...the vertigo feeling just hit me out of nowhere! Then of course, I panicked and made things worse. I haven't visited the city since, and prior to my last excursion I hadn't visited the city for a year. All because of that bridge that I spend maybe 5-8 minutes on.

I'm honestly not sure if this is an equilibrium imbalance or if I'm unconsciously thinking about having a panic attack, and then do have one. CAN ANYONE RELATE?
I have received counseling sessions for my panic attacks. Here's some things that work for me most of the time:
- You can't be anxious and angry at the same time. You can't be anxious & happy at the same time. So either get some road rage going or get mad at yourself or think happy thoughts!

- Self talk. Say positive statements like "i've done this before and I can do it again." or "I'm not going to fight this. I'm just going to go with the flow and ride out this attack." or "This is a challenge and I will succeed." Carry a note card with positive statements on it. Practice self talk when you're not having panic attacks so it comes naturally when you do have one.

- Set small goals and as you achieve them, make more challenging goals. Remember to reward yourself.

-At the start of a panic attack, breathe in and out your nose, gathering the air from deep in your belly, not from your lungs (like belly breaths in yoga). Breathe in for 5 sec. hold for 1 sec. Breathe out for 5 sec. Practice deep breathing when you're not having panic attacks so it comes naturally when you do have one.

- I like Mike Paget's tip:
"...have an intense thought about something else such as work, bills, or other basic life issues. Before you know it, your done. So many people focus on the bridge that it magnifies the irrational thought."

Hope these tips help!

posted on Tue, 06/08/2010 - 9:23pm
Russ's picture
Russ says:

I never had a problem with bridges before. At age 41 last year I drove over the bay bridge from Annapolis (which ironically I was exicted about when we approached it) and had my first panic attack. I could have typed any post above. Same exact symptoms and permanent chanes and fears when on a new trip. Now the fear has spread to other bridges I used to drive over before without a thought. I have no other issues or childhood things. Nice to know I'm not alone. Wish I could find a cure for this.

posted on Sat, 06/12/2010 - 11:13pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Just reading these posts caused me anxiety! I developed this phobia in my late 50's. What the heck??? Living in the SF bay area there are plenty of bridges and overpasses. What seems to bother me is when they just have those low cement dividers so you can see below very easily, and imagine going over the dividers easily. I experience all the physical symptoms everyone is talking about. My irrational thoughts are that the wheels will lose traction and I am going to "slide" off the bridge and over the side. Like I am on ice. I totally panic when a new bridge comes up that I wasn't expecting while driving. If I am lucky, I find a slow truck to follow and "pretend" that I am hooked up to it so I won't slide off. As far as arch bridges, did that once unexpectedly and thought I was a goner. If we had alternative means of transportation that didn't take you all day to get where you were going, I would be the first to take that option. Thanks for the posts that offer some solutions. I am going to show my daughter this site as she has no sympathy or understanding. How do you explain an irrational fear to a 16 year old?

posted on Tue, 06/15/2010 - 10:29am
haywired's picture
haywired says:

Like many others, I now have some sense of relief after reading that I'm not the only one.

At the time, about 42 years old, I had been driving cars/trucks since I was 15. Drove big trucks for a few years and never had any issues or second thoughts when driving anywhere or on anything. I actually relished some of the views offered when driving over a high bridge.

I live in Michigan and have drove the Mackinac bridge dozens, if not, more than a hundred times and loved it.

Until, a newly opened bridge in Ohio that lay in my route to Cedar Point near route 2, is a big arched bridge, with low cement side barriers and the suspension cables that run through the middle.

My first run over that bridge, I had no hesitation or apprehension. I was just before the crest of the arch and I felt dizzy, palms sweating, forehead sweating - I thought I was having a hear attack or something. Then, off the bridge and everything went away. I totally dismissed it. Went to Cedar Point, enjoyed a couple days then headed back home. Again back to that bridge, and again just before the crest I began to 'panic '. And my mind is like - it is this damn bridge! What the hell ?

I told myself its just THAT bridge and the weird way it is built that threw me off - no worries.

A couple months later I head to the Upper Peninsula and before I arrived at the Mackinac bridge I begin to feel the same effects. I bore through it and was immediately relieved of symptom on the down side of the bridge. Now - I'm not scared I'm pissed. This is crap and what the heck!? Bearing the cost of $3.50 per trip, I turned my car and drove back over it, three more round trips. They say, "Face your fear", right ? - I did and honestly the last two weren't so bad and I found myself looking at the sights again. About a week later, coming back home, as soon as I drove up to the fare booth the symptoms started. I told myself to buck it up and made it, while the symptoms weren't as bad as the first, they were still very present.

Last summer I went to the Florida Keys, and if you haven't been, it is basically 100 miles of bridge. Some small, some pretty big and long. I decided again to move through my 'fears' and just go. I didn't crash, I didn't pass out, but on some of the bridges the symptoms were strong. I spent two weeks there and became very practiced at driving them with little, but present symptoms. When I got home I felt myself fairly cured. I mean if I can drive from Key Largo to Key West and just the occasional dry throat or odd sensation, I should be cool.

So back to the bridge that started this whole mess.(In my mind) As soon as it's in my eye sight my palms begin to sweat and .. while not as bad as some trips have been, this bridge is still owning my worst symptoms.

I can tell all, I am NOT afraid of bridges. But driving over bridges seem to cause physical response to some mental/ visual aberration.

I agree with many here where they state the feel as if the car will simply float of the bridge. I feel the same 'weightless' sensation that I think I'm associating to the accumulation of these physical reactions.

I attend family counseling, and mentioned this to him for advice and he basically dismissed it but said he could prescribe some drugs to help. I am not interested in taking an antidepressant to drive a bridge.

From the advise of people here, I'm going to seek out the specialist counselors and see what approach they take, because I refuse to be held captive by this.

Thanks to all, and good luck to the same!

posted on Wed, 06/16/2010 - 11:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My wife has an extreme fear of driving over bridges but is not phased at all riding across or walking. Have not been able to find any discussion on this phenomena and was curious if any else had or has heard of this and what the cause is?

posted on Fri, 07/09/2010 - 2:21pm
Shana's picture
Shana says:

Hmm, I didn't know there was a term for this. I get scared on sometimes on really high, large bridges and overpasses if they're narrow...but I guess I get the same feeling in narrow highway lanes or if I'm passing a semi truck. But it doesn't get so bad that I have to stop or let someone else drive.

I think driving is particularly scary because I become conscious of the idea that I could lose control and drive off of it. But if someone else is driving I'm not in control anyway and unless they are driving recklessly there's no issue. I've noticed that I have been scared walking on top of an overpass and looking down, though, too. Weird.

posted on Fri, 07/09/2010 - 3:44pm
TAM's picture
TAM says:

I am on the internet trying to find a website that shows pictures or gives some information regarding bridges and I come across this blog. I am trying to find information regarding bridges on the routes I am projected to travel on. I am in the midst of traveling with my job and I realize I I have now accepted I have a combination of gephyrophobia (learned a new word) and acrophobia. I can manage to get over a bridge that has a center lane that doesn't have an open middle. If the bridge is one lane and narrow it is terrifying for me. The way I cope with going over bridges/overpasses is not safe. I either speed up, drive in the center of two lanes with my hazard flashers on, or slow way down. All the while I am going over the bridge my heart is beating so rapidly and my breathing is abnormal. I shake like a leaf and it appears to me I am having a full fledge panic/anxiety attack. I had to share my fears with my coworkers because recently I came upon an overpass around Columbia, SC and ended up stopping right in the middle of the fork in the road. Back in April in the same area I actually backed up once I saw how high the overpass was, and took the right side of the fork to prevent negotiating the overpass. I have had to come up with creative ways to avoid overpasses but there is no way I can totally avoid bridges. I am a little embarassed because now it is at the point were I am unable to manage my fears and I have to share it with family and coworkers. I do plan to go to counseling because I can see these fears crippling my travel or stopping it all together. Does anyone know of a website that provides information and or pictures about bridges?

posted on Wed, 07/21/2010 - 12:54pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Go to google images and look up the bridge you want to see.

posted on Thu, 07/22/2010 - 6:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Wow! In retrospect being a child and being in the backseat traveling with my father and other relatives on several occasions and this was a pleasant experience. Fast Foward I am now 31 with 2 kids and we are back in the Hampton Roads, VA area to visit family and I decided to take the kids over the CBBT. I told the kids we were going to the middle of the sea, they were excited as I was because it was such a nostalgia for me. As soon as I drove on to the bridge I began to feel strange, anxiety mixed with fear and I couldnt understand why. I started to drive slower and started to sweat but luckily, there was a gift shop and parking area on the first island in 3 miles. The view and feeling of nothing but the sea for miles just got to me. Im thinking in my head "why am I feeling like this?" but it became more and more intense as I kept driving. I guess when you are a kid in the backseat you see things differently than being an adult in the drivers seat.

posted on Wed, 08/04/2010 - 5:40am
kk's picture
kk says:

I never had a fear of bridges until about 3 years ago. I was driving back to New Jersey from Pennsylvania and had a panic attack on the Delaware Water Gap Bridge. I was petrified that I would lose control of my car. I tried again and this time could not go over the bridge and took the last exit before the bridge. Since then, I have not driven over this bridge...I take another route (Rt. 611) and drive on the side of the mountain. People laugh at me and can't understand this fear that I have...since I never before had a fear of driving of the bridge. Maybe it's the combination of the mountains, the height of the bridge, the "S" turns on the bridge and the narrow lanes. Thanks for listening. Kris

posted on Wed, 08/04/2010 - 6:55am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my grandma is unable to go visit her family because of her gephyrophobia

posted on Sat, 08/07/2010 - 1:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

my fear of bridges started at about age 35, at the same time , i started to fear flying also. i had to rush one of my dogs to a vet, crossing the bridge that i hate, i was concentrating on my dog and totally forgot about getting scared for the bridge. now i replace my bridge thoughts, for something important, that i need to do. works like a charm. and i try to replace negative thoughts with things like, thank god for this great bridge, to get me where im going, i still fear stopping on top of a bridge in traffic, but i dont dwell on it. i know there is a cure for this phobia. it would be unpleasant, but if we all forced ourselves to go over these bridges over and over again, as if we were on a bridge maintinence crew, i believe we would get bored with our fears, and move on to more rewarding challenges.

posted on Mon, 08/09/2010 - 1:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have had these types of phobias since the 1960's. Back then it was called-if I remember correctly-anxiety neurosis. I don't know what they call it now. Public speaking, claustrophobic situations (packed airplanes, elevators etc.), any closed in/trapped situation, long bridges, crowds, tunnels, name it, I've got/had it.

Much, much psychotherapy over the years but none since the '80's. There have been intermittant periods of remission, and it seems to taper off somewhat as you get older. However, my mother still has them and she is 94...maybe that's where I got mine!

Valium works well for me when taken in anticipation of a trigger event. If you get stuck in one unexpectedly, the forced lonnnngggg, slllooowwww deep breathing does indeed help. That's hard to do though when you feel like you are suffocating in the first place and your heart is pumping at 200 strokes per minute! The problem is when you panic you hyperventilate by breathing to fast and shallow. This blows off far too much carbon dioxide and this is what causes all the death-like symptoms of a full blown panic attack. By sloooowwww breathing you halt or at least ameliorate the vicious cycle. But it's tough.

Good luck to all who suffer this mysterious, bedeviling wretched condition. It is not your fault and you are not "pussies"!!

posted on Sun, 09/05/2010 - 10:32am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

My fear of highway driving and especially hight bridges started about 30 years ago. My phobia's kind of came and went. Sometimes for months I go drive on the freeway with traffic all over the place and not panic and even go over some relatively high but shorter bridges. And on the other hand the fears would just come roaring back to the point I've had to pull over many times on the shoulder to collect myself and just push with sheer will to finish the drive - white knucles and sweat. I would sometimes go for months taking back roads to get to where I had to go.

Finally, after a couple of pyschologists and talking therapy - my fears were still alive in my head. Then, about 9 years ago, my wife urged me to see a psychiatrist. He on the very first vist asked me if I wanted to proceed with talk therapy as he called or drug treatment. He said that most of his patients with my problems eventually relapse. So I opted for drug treatment. A number of drugs were tried, but either didn't work or the side effects were onerous. Finally, I was prescribed clonazapam. It worked well and without any side effects. We worked out a program for the dosage and schedule for taking it.

I am not advocating drug therapy for anyone or the drug itself. I'm just stating my own experiences with it.

I pop a 2mg pill about an hour before I know I'm going to be on the freeway. It works beautifully and with not side effects. The fear is somewhow just blocked out. If I know I'm going to be going on a longer trip or some really scary bridge i take my 2 mg. and about an hour before the big bridge I take another.

This summer I did the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - Tunnel driving a mini van with relativse from the Wash, DC area and I loved the view. On the return leg, crossing the Bag Bridge (Preston) I popped 2 pills before hand and drove the bridge, looked around and admired the beautfiful view from there, all the way talking with my passengers. The fear was completely gone - like I never had it before. Had I not taken clonazapam, I would have had to be driven over.

I am not in favor of drugs: I don't take pills for colds or whatever. But with my phobia's I have decided, after all else has failed, that for the welfare of myself, other drivers and my children and wife and family, clonazapam was and is still a God sent gift for me.

I am a sufferer of gephyrophobia, but I tried and tried and finally found a solution to this &**& problem that has paralyized me for so long. I know of other people that suffer from this and offered my help. So far no one has taken my advice for some reason.

posted on Mon, 09/06/2010 - 7:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The fear of crossing high bridges is more common than most people think.

My wife can't drive over a high bridge. I can do but with incredible anxiety and will power.

I found out that my 2 sisters have this same fear to some degree. And my wife's 2 sisters's can't do it at all. Plus over the years I have found that many people have problems with crosssing high bridges.

The question is: can't engineers design bridges that a bit more tolerable. I know that engineers like to design bridges to be grand and specular: but what about people driving over them? Do they really have to be so high, steep, and so long? Who ever designed the April 25th Bridge in Portugal should have been shot dead. That brdige has no railings except for a 6 inch bumper curb on the right hand lane. I drove over that thing and nearly passed out and had to get of the road as soon as I got of the bridge to recover. Driving over looking on your right you see nothing but water and height.

The question is can engineers design bridges that a more in tune with peole's anxiety levels. Do they have to be so high and so grand and do they have to curve. And are there alternatives to even such a bridge at all! Like maybe work around: it may take a bit longer but so what?

After all,. human only a 100 years ago didn't have to cope with high bridges. Maybe genetically, we are not ready for high bridges and crazy highways yet.

posted on Sun, 09/12/2010 - 2:12am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

10 years ago my husband and I were traveling from Fl. to Myrtle Beach. He was driving and as we crossed over a bridge in SC(I don't recall which one) I immediately was struck with panic. I have crossed and driven over many, many bridges in my life and had no idea why this bridge freaked me out. I have since been over many longer and higher bridges over water and was just fine. I just drove to Key West and had no problem at all. I am leaving for Myrtle Beach this week and hope that it was just a one time weird thing cause I have to drive over it again. I read a few years ago that people with inner ear infections and sinus problems will get the sensation that they are going to fall or they start getting dizzy etc when on suspended bridges, and this installs the sense of fear.I will be taking my sinus remedies this time and see how it goes.

posted on Sun, 09/19/2010 - 1:37pm
A Edwards's picture
A Edwards says:

I'm 35 and I've been afraid of bridges my entire life. I know the cause, but I don't know the cause of the cause. I've had dreams my entire life of bridges that seem perfectly fine to everyone but me, but in actuality they're like roller coasters. These bridges turn at weird angles, go up huge slopes and come down even steeper slopes. Sometimes these bridges are nothing but rails. Sometimes these bridges even go underwater. So yeah, I've had those dreams ever since I can remember.

When I cross two bridges in particular, the Marquam and the Fremont bridge (in Portland, Or), I start to get panic attacks. the attacks usually stop once we reach the top of the bridge. It's usually the ramps going up to the bridges that freak me out the most. Maybe because they resemble my dreams). Another incident happened on July 4th, when I tried to walk across the Hawthorne bridge (something I've done dozens, even hundreds of times). I got a strange sensation and just couldn't do it. I walked about a quarter of the way, and decided to turn back and catch a bus across the bridge.

I'm kind of trying to kick this fear right now, as I've recently been able to kick another irrational fear (aliens - don't laugh).

posted on Sat, 09/25/2010 - 12:41pm
suthernrican's picture
suthernrican says:

I have gephryophobia due to a recurring nightmare of driving off of a bridge and into deep water ( or maybe the nightmare was due to the phobia...who knows) I tried to face my fear two summers ago by driving with my husband and children to Key West, FL. I did alright on the way down in the daylight. Just a little increase in pulse and a few stray tears. But we lost track of time and it was night on the way back. When I couldn't see the other end of the bridge I started to panic. I had nowhere to pull over to let my husband drive. He rubbed my back and we sang choir songs til we cam to the end of the bridge and he could drive again. I wept and wept. I won't be facing that particular set of bridges anytime soon.

posted on Thu, 09/30/2010 - 9:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am 32 years old and have driven over tons of brideges numerous time. About a month ago, about 2 miles before I even saw the large upcoming bridge, I began to fear it. I pulled over and got out of the car for a series of deep breaths, but it didn't seen to help. I HAD to go over it, I had already driven over an hour to reach the destination on the other side of the bridge. I can't do it any longer. I feel so weak and imcompetent. I have noticed since this experience that driving anxiety is now present as well. I don't like big open roads, however traffic doesn't bother me. Not even a year ago, I drove almost 1000 miles, crossing many bridges including the huge Skyway in Tampa. Now I can't cross the small bridege over Kentucky Lake. I just want to know where this came from. Why now???

posted on Tue, 10/26/2010 - 9:41am
Pete (UK)'s picture
Pete (UK) says:

Hi All.
Wow, am I glad I found this thread, I thought I was on my own with this problem, as it is controlling my everyday life.
I am in the UK, I'm a 55 year old regular guy and totally freak these last few years on bridges, high roads, overpasses and any high building/window above about 30ft or so.

I have found a logical reason for all our reactions here and it's to do with 'fight or flight' syndrome and I hope it helps you to start to 'attack' and 'tackle' these fears (as it is the ONLY positive way to battle forward with it).

I have done some 'google' research as I don't like being beaten and I will find a way somehow. So once you understand too what is happening to your body and mind it will help you as a basis to forge forward with determined positive work and thinking.

Firstly, please remember that I actually DID DO a parachute jump 25 years ago; and although it was a terrifying thought beforehand I loved it once I was out there safely floating down (and therefore thought I was cured of height fear). So, I KNOW that I once did it and even have the photo to look at and remind me that I DID do it. Most others who do not have my fear wince at the thought of parachuting and think I am fearless (if only they knew the truth now).

Does that make a difference though ? Does it it hell at the moment, (but its a good start to re-beat my fear and re-train my brain).

Like some on here I even shout at the TV (through the cracks in my hand across my eyes) when I see climbers and base jumpers and folk doing crazy high stunts etc (its laughable really because in a weird way I am STILL drawn to watch ).

Amazingly too, I drive 325 metres across my 50 ft high home Island bridge everyday with no problem or thought about it (though I dread and avoid walking it now and turn back before reaching the middle bit), yet 5 years ago I happened suddenly on the 180ft high Dartmouth bridge in the dark and rain surrounded by thundering 18 wheelers (and I was also tired as I had been driving all night).

I felt trapped, and the long unexpected HUGE rise upto the apex was sooo terrifying that I had a panic attack and I was shouting and swearing at myself just to get through it like my life depended on it (as in my mind IT DID).
I was almost in tears with it and just wanted to get off it ASAP (at ANY cost). The shouting at myself was the two sides of my brain arguing with each other, but it helped.

The ILLOGICAL side was 'actually' tempting and urging me to drive off the side as the ONLY way out to quickly get back to instant safety (back to the fetal position safety of the womb perhaps ?). I was scared of 'losing control' to that side of my brain and it taking over my sweaty 'white knuckled' steering wheel grip (in a panicked knee jerk Teretts syndrome fashion), just that ONE litlle turn.

There's ONE part of fear for you, 'losing control to the fear'.

Then the LOGICAL side steps in and told me not to be so stupid, because if I do that I will DIE (and THAT'S where the teeth gritting angry shouting came in to override it).
Then comes the shame afterwards of allowing it to happen and feeling feeble and unable to admit it to others.

Does this all sound familiar ???

The same happened to me on a walkway bridge across the Thames near the London Eye one night last year after a concert at the O2 (I can't do the high tier seats in there either, OR The Eye for that matter). I was alone with my son on the bridge when I got over half way and THEN I FROZE.
I panicked to go back and my son pointed out (logically) that it was just as far to go back as it was to go the rest of the way (BACK looked still looked better though). I then became a frightened weak kneed ranting jumbly who just felt like he wanted to jump or something just to stop the horrible feeling.

It ended up that I got him to hold me tight and talk me across whilst I pulled my hood over and stared at the floor the rest of the way. Oh the shame of it, and right in front of my son too. He understood though, but it has still haunted me with shame ever since.

Determined to beat it (in front of him), I did that same bridge again with a group of us this time (and my son again) on a bright busy summer's day with kids on it and street entertainers all looking happy and un-bothered by the 40ft drop over a murky river (all whilst I was JUST there to fight my private battle without freaking out in front of everyone after planning it for 6 months). In this planning, I imagined it instead in my head as a positive successful trip... ALL THE WAY ACROSS.

In the same place, exactly the same fear engulfed me and my son walked off just in front in case I wanted him to (embarrassingly) hug me again in front of his friends.This time I bit my lip (hummed a tune and talked) and did it (but only still with one hand on his shoulder), BUT I STILL DID IT.
I fed my head with logical thoughts of others (and kids) doing it no bother (but I still wondered just how they could, and what why I was different).

Once off it, I was chuffed to bits and got a small step nearer to tackling it, and I was more proud of that than I was with my chute jump.

YET, 5 years ago I did the notoriously named 'wobbly bridge' The Thames Millenium walk-bridge 'no problem'.
So what has happened since then ????
I am STILL trying to find out what the trigger is.

Fear is where the all powerful PANIC sets in and makes one think and do illogical things, and then your logic fights back. In fact, one can even get a panic attack ABOUT the FEAR of having a panic attack (I do that too). Thus your system is being fed with powerful adrenaline to prepare you and give you great energy and strength to protect you and prepare you to run away VERY FAST (or fight the monster chasing you if trapped). IT comes from Caveman days.

On a bridge you CAN'T turn and run, or fight, and you and have to stay with the traffic flow.

I was an entertainer and its the same thing as crippling stage fright (T-shirt there too and stopped though I am fighting that back too). The symptoms are very weakening (enfeebling) and flu-like, YET you could lift a car if your child was trapped under it, or punch a whole gang out if they got in your way in your determined panic to escape.
Weird eh ?

Thats that same powerful instant surge of adrenaline that your body does not know what to do with when you don't use it up, and THAT is the very reason why you go to jelly.

It is ONLY controlled by the mind's powerful 'negative' suggestions that you have soaked in and stored up in it ALL YOUR LIFE, and it is only a case of replacing and conditioning it with POSITIVE logical ones.
Not as simple as it sounds, but its a start. So tell your brain new positive stories and comparisons to substitute the old ones and do ONE small step every day to re-acclimatise yourself to what is scaring you.

Its true what they say about kids 'that they have no fear', they just haven't learned the negative options yet like us older ones who suddenly get these fears late on in life.

Sorry this is long, BUT AT LEAST IT IS A POSITIVE WAY FORWARD instead of just feeding yourself with other's same fears to make you feel better about yourself and not finding the way out.

Be hard on yourself like me and FACE THEM. Its YOUR life and only YOU can do something about it. So do something POSITIVE today, or it will eat you up (like it has done to me AND still does, and though it is hard I AM doing something POSITIVE about it by attacking it to better it, and by not giving in to it).

I hope you all benefit from this and I wish you peace in your life from your fears.
Best wishes

posted on Sat, 11/06/2010 - 10:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have always been spooked by the Bolte Bridge in Melbourne which I have to cross to get to the airport. But today I had my first ever full blown panic attack while driving my husband to the airport. I have never experienced anything like it. I thought I was going to throw up, pass out and kill us both. I had to come back the same way and I did the whole thinking myself out of it thing leading up to the bridge but sure enough as soon as I was on it, my arms started shaking uncontrollably and I started 'whiting' out. The person who says you won't pass out, has never experienced what I did today! Thank God that as soon as I was close to passing out, the traffic in my lane came to a standstill and I was able to get across at a crawl, concentrating on the car in front only. I'm completely terrified of having to go over it again and I'm scared that the phobia will extend to other bridges that I've been able to manage OK. As with some others, I think the problem with this particular bridge is that it arches and you feel like you're driving into space/nothing. I'm encouraged by Pete's remarks and I'm going to go to the doctor about it too, but at the moment I simply can't imagine getting over it. Just the thought of forcing myself to face it again makes me feel some of the same sensations again. BTW I am 48, a professional and a good, normally confident driver.

Thanks to everyone for sharing. In one way I feel better to know others suffer the same thing, but it's a bit depressing to know that it is a 'thing' and not just a one off weird day.

posted on Tue, 12/07/2010 - 4:57am
Polly Jacks's picture
Polly Jacks says:

I experience the worst nausea and dizziness when driving over bridges, especially ones that high up over water like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I almost crashed. I had to focus so hard on not looking anywhere but at the road so I could get across. When I did, I pulled over and vomited. It was a horrible feeling. I avoid driving if bridges are involved. As a passenger, I seem to be less affected if I'm in the back seat. But no one explains why this happens? What neurological or biological reason(s) explain this as I am not an anxious or otherwise very nervous or fearful person. Any answers would be Great!
Happy New Year 2011!

posted on Sat, 01/01/2011 - 4:26pm
JeffR's picture
JeffR says:

Like many others here, my fear started to creep in during my 30's. Then one day when I was roughly 40 I had my first full scale panic attack while crossing a bridge that really wasn't that high, but gave a view over the top of trees that just seemed to bother me.

Prior to that incident, I had some minor problems with panic attacks that were stress related and not related in anyway to heights.

Since that first episode I build up a lot of anxiety anytime I know I'm approaching a bridge. Just the sight of the steel structure can set me off. Sometimes this becomes a full scale attach while crossing and sometimes not. The serverity of my reaction can be different even between trips over the same bridge. On some bridges it definitly varies based on which direction I'm going. Like someone earlier mentioned, going East over the Tappan Zee Bridge is much worse than going West. Just because of the sight lines you have.

I've noticed that if I'm on an unfamiliar route and the bridge catches me by surprise, I actually do better. I think because I haven't had the opportunity to work myself up in anticipation. There are times when I fear that I might drive off the side of the bridge (sometimes I fear I might do it on purpose). Other times there is no particular fear involved other than my long standing fear of heights. I really don't worry about the bridge collapsing.

Just a couple years ago I came across that Skyway bridge near Tampa. My eyes probably popped out of my head when I saw that thing in front of us. Fortunately I wasn't driving. I think I had my eyes closed most of the way.

I'll also mention I don't have a problem flying as long the as plane is not terribly small. The thought of going up in a hot air balloon is one of the most terrifying things I can think of. Part of that fear is the irrational thought that I might decide to jump out of the basket. Sometimes I can get queezy seeing pictures of other people doing things up high. Sometimes just looking up at tall buildings can bother me a bit.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in this blog, is that I seem to do better when I'm in better physical shape. If I've been keeping up with my aerobic excercise (generally running) and have my weight down, my reaction is not near as bad to any of the issues involving heights.

posted on Tue, 02/01/2011 - 10:24pm
Cowardess's picture
Cowardess says:

Jeff, I've been hot air ballooning and it was great. I also went sky diving and that was a blast, but if I have to drive over a bridge, I experience a terror worst than I would imagine looking into the gates of hell. I've never wanted to drive over the edge of a bridge, but when I get stuck going over one, it seems like I'm coming out of my body. With no one in my body, I'm afraid the car could just go tearing across head-on into other cars or shoot straight up into the sky. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but in the middle of a panic attack, anything seems possible. I feel your pain.

posted on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 10:41am
finisher's picture
finisher says:

JeffR you hit just about everything on the head as far as I am concerned. This includes the exercise portion. I believe that exercise removes the built up stress and leaves a person in a more positve frame of mind. I also find that fatigue is a factor. I have an easier time driving over bridges in the morning after a good night's rest. Alcohol also seems to be a factor in increasing these fears.

posted on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 7:27am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I do experience a lot of anxiety and fear when traveling on flyovers and bridges, even when someone else is driving. I make it my mission to know every city street to get me to my destination so that I could avoid having to drive on a flyover or bridge. There have been a couple of times when I was forced, because of traffic or not knowing the area, to get on a flyover, and I apologize to the drivers behind me, because I'm sure I was driving 10mph, but at least I was moving. My anxiety was so high, I really wanted to stop the car and not move at all.

posted on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 6:35pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am wondering if there is any explanation as to why this anxiety can start well into adulthood. I drove over the Driscoll Bridge without a problem and even enjoyed it, until one day, when I was 40, as I was about to cross it, I had the only real panic attack I have ever had and had to pull over the shoulder. Only the fear of having to explain myself to a State Trooper got me moving again, after I had calmed down. I had just driven over the same bridge in the opposite direction four hours earlier without problem. I have had a serious problem with high. arched bridges ever since and go out of my way to avoid them. Is there a"mid-life crisis" element to this?

posted on Wed, 03/02/2011 - 7:17pm
dizzyy driver's picture
dizzyy driver says:

I had to take my daughter to the ER the other night. It was storming badly and I have a detached retina in my right eye, so I don't see too well driving at night. I did alright on the interstate and managed too merge onto another interstate, then the bad part of the storm hit. The rain was so bad I could not see the road, the wind was rocking my van back and forth, and had golf ball sized hail,. I went into a panic attack and had to step outisde the van on the freeway to get my breathe and it helped. I was soaked with rain and almost blown away, but a a bit better when I got back into the van. On this interstate there is a series of floodway ditches ( 5 large ditches with brideges over them and they are all connected with railing and reflectors. Just before I got to the floodways, I had to pull over- I was having another panic attack and my vision was blurry. My son who only has his permit had to drive the rest of the way and to the hospital. Thanks god he was there or we would have never made it. The distance from my house to the hospital is about 40 miles. My son drove all the way back because I was so weak fromm the two panic attacks I had and was not seeing well either. Since then, I have had small attacks these past few days but they are going away gradually. Does anyone ever have these problems of the attacks lingering>? Just wondering. Thanks Gary

posted on Fri, 04/01/2011 - 11:59am
Cowardess's picture
Cowardess says:

Gary, I felt so sorry for you when I read your story. I had only had three panic attacks way back years ago, but didn't really know that was what was happening. Now, in the last year, I've had three more. One was just on a highway going up to Asheville, N.C. and the other two happened within a day of each other while going over some bridges in South Carolina. I just turned 60 so this is really a mystery. Now I feel like I have to plan the rest of my life around the location of bridges or major highways. I think these attacks are combinations of chemical embalances that come with age and past fears that happened when we were younger. When you were driving your daughter to ER, you were probably faced with the realization that you were completely in control of the lives of your precious cargo and at the mercy of nature, which can be cruel. I don't want to be on medications, but after my horrible experience a few weeks ago, my doctor prescribed Xanax. I keep it in my car for emergencies. If I feel another attack coming on, I'll take half a pill and pull over for about 20 minutes. I actually felt my last attacks coming on about 30 minutes before they actually incapacitated me. I wonder if it could be a type of migraine?

posted on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 10:34am
Cowardess's picture
Cowardess says:

BEWARE the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Friends, don't ever let anyone talk you into taking a day trip on that Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. During a vacation in the 90's, our hotel concierge recommended we take a drive up that road for a "panoramic" view. The road is narrow and winds around thousands of feet up with no guard rails. After the first 20 minutes up, I was on my knees in the front seat floor with my head in the seat screaming. My husband was furious at me for being a baby and he started yelling at me. This was like pouring gas on a fire. (We're divorced now). When I finally got out at the end of the road on the top of the mountain, we were standing in a cloud. I felt like I had melted down into my feet and couldn't even walk I was so disoriented. It was the sensation of being a puppet on strings. You can imagine what the trip back down was like. I'd rather be eaten by a bear than go back up that road.

posted on Thu, 04/21/2011 - 10:19am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Hi Everyone: Reading your posts, it's like you were looking at my paper while taking the test. 47 years not a problem. Crossed the Verrazano from SI to Bklyn daily for almost 20 years for college and work. Yesterday, the Del-Memorial Bridge did me in. My brain got hot. The pressure built up around me. Finally making it across, I stopped at rest stop for 2 hours to compose myself before continuing. But it was a hellacious drive, stiff and white-knuckled the entire way.

I'm a sales person! I'm terrified to get back into the car. I don't know what I'm going to do? I can't give in to this. I feel like a feeble idiot. I hope this is short lived.

Someone told me to go see an ENT - Ear Nose Throat doctor. It might be related to vertigo. Any thoughts?

I'm going to try an ENT and a shrink!

Thanks! br

posted on Sun, 05/22/2011 - 1:17pm
CM's picture
CM says:

I so know this fear....these fears.
I'm 46 years old...a single mom, and I used to love driving. In fact I'd GO driving, rain, snow, whatever weather, when I was upset or down and it would cheer me up. I'd drive myself alone to the mountains just to sit on the high overlooks and think, or read.
Until...about 6 or 7 years ago ( possibly longer, but not by much). I was driving my parents and my children across a narrow country bridge. My father yelled out ' Watch out you're going to go over the edge !'. A semi was coming towards us, it made me tense up and have a hard time finishing the cross. Since then..well it's gotten worse and worse.
It started out with big bridges..I couldn't get across without having a panic attack. I would be scared and tense before I even reached the bridge, knowing it was coming up. When I used to be able to make myself drive across, I'd have a totally physical legs would tense up to the point that afterwards they would actually hurt . I held my breath, got dizzy, my arms hurt and I froze all over. I could feel my heart beating in my head.. I cant' even describe the horrible physical feeling. I would get into the inside lane, then panic because I knew there was traffic behind me and I felt a horror about HAVING to get back over into the other lane. And I live in Tennessee, so not many really LONG bridges here, these are small bridges compared to the rest of you. A year ago on a trip to Charleston we had to cross over that big son driving...I had SUCH a horrendous time of that..wanting to do nothing more than to open the door and GET OUT while on top. I haven't' driven over a bridge myself in over a year. My son, bless his heart has driven me practically everywhere as my fears have developed into more...I am scared of overpasses, driving in the dark, driving narrow roads, driving crowded roads, roads that go up and over a hill...roads that come down a looooooong hill..interstates are a definite NO, and then bridges. I live 15 minutes from the Smoky Mountains, but I can't enjoy a drive to my beloved mountains anymore . My brakes went out on me a few years ago ( out of the mountains ), and again IN the mountains, and since that has happened, well at first I'd try to drive them, but use 2nd gear all the way down and pull over all the time, but I can't even tolerate that now. I have always, since childhood, had a fear of heights, so this compounds things I believe. I used to sing myself worked for a while.
I hate having lost my independance. My doctor actually said to me ' You just need to make yourself do it, then you'll get over it'. My family has said to me ' It's all in your head'...and my reply is, of course it is...but if I could just ' get over it', don't you think I would have already ? I tell them, do you actually think I like being this way ? I really want help, but am not into medications..

posted on Sun, 05/22/2011 - 9:34pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

After getting out of the service, never before having any kind of panic or anxiety attacks, all of a sudden I was totally paranoid of driving on freeways. Which was something I had to do because of my job. Driving the Detroit freeways, I found myself in life or death situations because of the panic that I was experiencing. I would make emergency stops on the freeway, just to try to regroup. Anyways, a year or so later a friend and I opened a siding business, in which we had to install siding on peoples homes. This turned out to be a blessing because all my energy was being use to perform this task. At the end of the day I was so tired that I found that what was once a nightmare (freeway driving) had now become very ordinary.
My point is that I wonder if a lot of our emotional energy that goes unspent, lays the ground work for anxiety/panic attacks.
Maybe we need to be more physically active.

posted on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 5:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a detached retina in my right eye and the way the light reflect into my eye causes me to become dizzy. When this happens I have panic attacks. When driving on the interstate the landscape going by on my right gets me dizzy, when I drive in the hills - the up and down movement makes me dizzy. I have a sinus infection and a lot of fluid behind my eye and ears and am finding this makes it much worse. When I get really tired - I get really dizzy and all this can throw me into a panic attack. Does anyone else have this problem? Ii have to pull the visor over so I don't see things going by and this helps. Very frustrating - It is getting to the point that I don't like to drive great distances. Used to I could drive anywhere - any bridge, overpass etc and it not bother me at all. This has all changes due to the detached retina (which can not be reparied)

posted on Thu, 06/02/2011 - 10:09pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

WOW! So I am not crazy....well, not any crazier than anyone else here =)

I try and I try, but sometimes I get there and just can't get over. If I know I'm gong to attempt a bridge, the panic often starts the day before, and builds. I plan my trips to go around the biggest bridges, sometimes miles out of my way; look at pix on google ahead of time if I'm not familiar with it. I like the suggestion of yelling it out...getting the adrenaline flowing could be a winner. Good luck eveyone! Keep trying, I know I will...I don't like being limited by this fear.

posted on Thu, 06/09/2011 - 10:31am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Had a bad day today! I was able to drive my daughter to band camp about 15 miles north - and then to a city about 20 miles north of that today. Came home - then family went back to the same city. I noticed going over the over passes was becomming difficult for me. I made it over them - but as I was on the incline to cross the brideg - I was getting light headed and dizzy. As I made it across the small brideg and going down the other side - the feeling was going away. CRAZY!!!
This may sound strange - but when I am driving about 50 mph I feel ok - but when I speep up to 65 or 70 - I can feel the pressure build up in my head - and get really dizzy then go into a panic attack. This is just too wierd! I can actually tell what speep we are going by the pressure in my head. My son was driving and when he would gently speed up I could tell him your at 60 or 65 or 70 just by the pressure in my head and the amount of dizziness I was feeling. WE got caught on an incline to go over an overpass to get on the interstate due to construction and I had to open the door and put my foot out on the pavement while we were stopped to get the spinning tgo stop. Once it stopped - I pulled the door to and told my son to go and get on the ramp to get on the interstate. Really Wierd for me - never happened before.
I have a detached retina in my right eye and I was wearing a patch ovet it so I think that helped a lot today. The light reflectging into my eye as things pass by on the road send me into a tizzy too. Not sure what to do - I keep[ thinking I may have a growth or tumor on my inner ear. Just not sure. Thanks for listening.

posted on Thu, 06/09/2011 - 9:17pm
jw's picture
jw says:

As a member of the how am I going to get across that high arching bridge club. I haven't heard any of the other comments mention having trouble with right turns on the highway. It doesen't happen all the time but often following the road into a right turn, especially if there is a car coming the other way, I find myself almost putting a death grip on the wheel and slowing down considerably to negotiate the turn. I don't have a clue why this would happen. I don't have this trouble in town where the speeds are much slower or straight runs on the highway at normal highway speeds. The panic is just as severe as it is crossing certain bridges.
On a positive note, I've found some relief from the panic attack by putting the sun visor down when crossing the going up part of the arch on the bridge. This way by tilting the visor I'm just seeing the road and not the sky, which seems to freak most of us out. (Not being able to see whats on the other side).
I think we all know were irrational but how do we get back to rational.

posted on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 11:14pm
Romaine's picture
Romaine says:

I don't know, "what the Sam hill" is goin on with me, butah..........sista needs big time help. Just this past Sunday I started tripping the hell out starting from Long Branch NJ when I realized I had to drive over the Delaware mem bridge. I was sooo damn upset and the closer I was getting the more I started to worry. Thanks to the anxiety I got lost coming out of Trenton NJ going south on 295 which then brought me closer to Delaware!!!! With luck the traffic was bad and my girlfriend said take 495 which I didn't have to take the bridge. Phew!!!! But when you're in Maryland before coming up on Aberdeen, Md there's a long straight bridge (flat) on I95 south and when I was coming across at night I really started trippin!!!! My heart just about died, my whole body went numb!!! I was slowing down to about 40 miles an hour!!!! My lips were cold and numb too!! I literally had to talk myself that I was doing fine over Rick Ross (now isn't that a trip?!?) I have NEVER ever, not ever felt like this damn feeling before. I'm really tripping of this sh/t!!!!!!

posted on Wed, 06/29/2011 - 10:25pm
brad's picture
brad says:

I know your pain. Just went over the bay bridge today. Felt like i wanted to just drive off the bridge. All i could do to white-nuckle the wheel and get off that bridge.Sad thing i had to go back.

posted on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 3:15pm
Jacque's picture
Jacque says:

OMgoodness... so many people with the same fear. My stomach is doing flip flops just reading people's reactions. Mine started in my late 30's. I used to do fine on bridges and now the thought terrifies me. It's the arches. I do fine on flat bridges. I can even do gradually arched one's that aren't too high as long as I'm in my car and I'm familiar with them. This phobia is so restrictive. I live in Houston and we have crazy high freeway interchanges and overpasses. I have to take the exit before or after and drive on the feeder roads to get where I'm going. I even drive through really bad neighborhoods to avoid the exchanges. There is something about doing a U turn at 200' in the air that is absolutely terrifying. I'm afraid I will drive off the bridge, pure and simple and that fear causes my hear rate to go up, my stomach to do flip flops, sweats and blurred vision (not good when driving, right?). I hate being this way. I always have to plan out my route to avoid bridges. Once I get over the top I'm usually much better. I also can't stand someone else to drive over one and look around. I drive my husband crazy.

posted on Mon, 07/18/2011 - 10:26am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Something strange happened to me. My dr took me off one of my high blood pressure pills and the panic attacks have gone away some. I was on Lotrel 40mg and she changed my meds. Maybe there was something in the Lotrel that was making the panic attacks worse. It had gotten so bad that I could not drive down the interstate or over simple overpasses. Now I don't have much problem at all. Just thought I would share. Thanks Gary

posted on Fri, 09/02/2011 - 4:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I've had this fear for about 20 years, just came on gradually and worsens. Went to a conference in MD from central PA and didn't realize I'd have to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Duh. I was 1/4 way across before I started shaking, serious tremors at the half way point, and barely breathing from the 3rd quarter to the end. I went back to PA on a circuitious route that took me 2 hours out of the way, just couldn't face the trip home. When I have to go to eastern pa I must take I-80 instead of the shorter Rt. 322 because the bridge over the Susquehanna upriver from Harrisburg is very low, too close to the water. I'm not crazy about highway overpasses, but they aren't usually very long. Did have to wait in line on one recently, felt stirrings of anxiety.

posted on Sat, 09/10/2011 - 11:48am
Katie MC's picture
Katie MC says:

I have never liked bridges, heights or small places. My company’s offices, which I visited from time to time, were on the 45th fl of 2 World Trade and I remember sitting at a meeting about 2 weeks before 9/11 thinking how much I hated going there because of the height and wishing I never had to go again. Well, be careful what you wish for… Over the last few years my fear of bridges has increased exponentially – the same symptoms everyone else describes. The last time I flew to Tampa on my way to visit my parents in Sarasota; I could not drive the Skyway and found an alternate route. The time before that, I was with my daughter and managed to get over the Skyway but made her drive us back. I had to pick up my daughter from Rehoboth Beach and confronted that monster, the Annapolis Bay Bridge. I was a wreck by the time I got there but managed to get over because there was no choice. On the way back – with a car full of kids, I almost made my daughter drive but managed to get over it with her talking to me the whole way. I have no problem with tunnels or the CBBT and, oddly enough, I can manage the Tappan Zee without too much trouble – perhaps because the arched part is so short and it is relatively wide and mostly flat on the water. I work in Phila and next week I have to go to CT. I am already stressing about the Ben Franklin Bridge and am planning a route up 95 so I won’t have to take it. I will take the Lincoln Tunnel across the Hudson instead of the easier GW.

I know this is ridiculous and I am ok (not fine but ok) once I am over the top but the panic I feel getting there is horrible. I have never sought psychiatric help for this condition but maybe I should. I have tried the “self-help” remedies others have suggested here but nothing works. This is the most frustrating malady because I know intellectually that I will be fine but I become an avatar of the fear – it just takes control over me no matter how I try to trick it or sublimate it or dismiss it. Anyone who belittles this condition should be me while crossing a bridge. It helps to know I’m not the only one.

posted on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 12:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I never had any problems with heights or bridges until after my divorce a long time ago. I was afraid to get on elevators and going anywhere because of crowds. Now the only things that bother me are heights and bridges with arches.
The thing of it is I never was afraid of heights or any kind of bridge and I am also afraid of flying in airplanes. I used to want to fly in an airplane. I can't go across a bridge unless I am reading a book and not having to drive or look at it. I get sweaty palms and start panicing and all the symptoms everyone else have been having.

posted on Tue, 09/27/2011 - 8:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Like many people who already posted, I ran into trouble with bridges in my mid-30's. As a teen I used to speed and weave across the I-480 bridge in Cleveland, without a hint of worry. But now I avoid any high bridge if possible.

I'm not so sure it's irrational. The design of most bridges really does make you worry, at least subconsciously, that you could go over the side. The amazing part is that so few OTHER people worry about it. Sometimes I think we're the only sane ones.

But to live with these bridges, you've got to convince yourself that you can't, in fact, go over the side. It's a confidence issue. Best way to do that is to drive the bridge repetitively. Eventually your adrenaline dies down, and you re-learn to cross it without panicking.

Unfortunately, tolls and traffic might make this hard to do. But probably a lot cheaper than counselling.

posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

One trick I've found--when the panic starts to build, slap yourself in the face, hard enough to hurt. Keep doing it until you are across. I'm serious. It has worked for me.

posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 2:27pm
Anayi's picture
Anayi says:

I live in Panama. It is a country divided by the Panama Canal. There are two long and high bridges that span the waterway. One is old and long (over 5000 feet), 1000 feet high, and it has a long access ramp that allows you to see how high you are going to get, with the tall skyline of Panama City behind it. The other one is much shorter (3000 feet) and less high (262 feet), nestled between hills, so it has a more confined view.

I am able to cross the shorter bridge with sweaty palms and gripping the wheel, but the older, longer bridge is just too terrifying for me. I have been scared of this bridge since I first saw it when I was a little girl, and I have had countless nightmares about it.

I was able to drive across it until a year ago, when I started getting worse and worse panic attacks. I am in my early 50s. It has affected my work sometimes, because if I have to cross the bridge to work on the other side, I will not do it, resulting in lost income.

For the record, I live in a 25th floor apartment and I can lean over the balcony no problem. It is the narrowness and the feeling of being out there in the air that makes me scared.

posted on Thu, 01/26/2012 - 9:31pm
Paul's picture
Paul says:

There are two new bridges going from Somers Point into Ocean City, NJ. I had a problem going over them on the first crossing, but, due to business, I had to MAKE myself keep going over them. Now, I actually enjoy them.
I thought this would help me with crossing the Delaware River bridges, som I tried the Ben Franklin. 25% over the friggin bridge, the hands got wet, the dizzies started, and I'm back in the same damned boat! I HATE this condition!

posted on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 9:22am
BlackDot's picture
BlackDot says:

Well, after seeing the sheer volume of comments, at least I know I am not alone!

When I was around 50, I had my first panic attack. I was driving on the NJ Turnpike with my family in the car - up north where the roadway and surroundings are really wide and open. Suddenly, I had a fear of driving on highways after 30+ years of doing just that!

That turned into an absolute horror of driving over bridges. I've always been afraid of heights, but could drive over bridges without even thinking about it. But now? Well, I have to drive over the Verrazano Bridge today and have been watching YouTube video's of other people doing it just to convince myself that its not that big of a deal.

Screaming at the fear does help, but only when I'm alone. It would scare my kids to death, so that's not an option for me most of the time.

I do find that keeping a bottle of Coca Cola handy helps. When I start to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, I take a swallow or two and it seems to settle it down for a while. My doctor also prescribed Lorezapam (sp?) which helps suppress panic (but not fear). Good conversation to distract me is also helpful.

I don't know if this will ever disappear as quickly as it arrived. I'm hoping it will. In the meantime, its guts and determination (along with Coca Cola).

Good luck, everyone.

posted on Mon, 02/20/2012 - 7:17am
Mandy Sue's picture
Mandy Sue says:

I've always been afraid of driving over bridges especially ones over water. I discovered this when I was around 10 and I'm 23 not. We were going to Ohio from Mississippi and my dad loved to take the long way around. My heart pounded as we crossed the bridge and I had to lay down in order to keep from crying. Thank goodness my dad looked and saw me in the fetal position and sped up. I recently took a trip on a train to New Orleans and I say that was the worst I couldn't stand it and I was pregnant so the whole sickness just didn't help. I couldn't panic because I didn't want to harm my baby. I've always had this fear and I never knew why and how it came to be.

posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 11:57am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I too am afraid of crossing bridges. Some, after many crossings, become more manageable for me. (I no longer feel that someone is going to push me over the side.) I can generally do it if someone else is driving and any bridge is more palatable if I cross during the night.

I believe that every major bridge should offer a crossing service. Even if one has to pay it is worth it not to experience the anxiety.

posted on Tue, 03/06/2012 - 8:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

OMG I totally agree with you. My parents recently moved to Ohio. I have to cross the river to see them. I have actually stopped at places near the bridge and offered random people money to drive me across. Usually I just have to do it- because no one will drive me across. so I go. at like 15 mph. because I cant go any faster as I feel like I may faint. Cars will honk. people will scream at me. I just want to get out of the car and lay down in the road. Singing, cursing, smoking (and I dont smoke normally). Nothing helps. (once I did cross while drinking alcohol, as an experiment. That actually helped alot. but it's not a good solution.) Anyway it is the worse thing in the world. I dont see my folks anymore. Just hate crossing that bridge. And even when I am not on a bridge, just imagining I am will bring on the same terror. I'd love to try hypnosis. But just can't afford it. Anyway, glad to know I'm not alone in this. Most people just dont understand.

posted on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:21am
EM's picture
EM says:

It is very comforting to read that so many people have the same concerns. I actually found this article when I was trying to find a route from NJ to DC without bridges !

My story is very similar to many on here (for me it happened at about age 30) and it was on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge - full blown panic attack where I just wanted to stop the car and curl into a ball. I only made it through by giving myself a pep talk. The following year I drove from NJ to MD and went over 2 bridges (don't remember them) that reinforced this phobia. I can handle the GW & Delaware Mem. bridges but only because I have go over them so often. Any other bridge is to be avoided at all costs. Good luck to my fellow "phobics".

posted on Sat, 03/10/2012 - 10:19pm
Emma's picture
Emma says:

I don't know why but I am terrified of rivers.
I don't want to die because of one cause
It is possible and I am REALLY SCARED!
I need helP to get over my dreadful fear

posted on Wed, 03/21/2012 - 9:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I have a fear of bridges and fly over ramps. I know it is related to my fear of heights. I feel awful about it because my world is getting so limited. If I want to go somewhere and I know there is a high bridge or high fly over then I just resign myself to not going. A few Saturdays ago I got a panic attack when I tried to get on an escalator! This is getting me so frustrated and I feel so bad about myself. I need help.

posted on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 9:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I wasnt always afraid of driving across any bridge but sense a few weeks ago I cant seem to drive across them .My arms seem to go numb and my heart is pounding and my mind goes freaking crazy..I have a fear of heights sense the 90s but I wasnt afraid of bridges like now..My bf laughs at me...I dont want to cross them but I have no choice...

posted on Fri, 05/04/2012 - 11:18pm
Anon's picture
Anon says:

I have this fear and its linked to claustrophobia and an experience from childhood. Unfortunately as a teenager I lost 3 friends from a car that was swept away during a flood while they tried to cross a bridge. I haven't suffered so much that I couldn't cross a bridge or drive through a tunnel but I am always very tense and tend to just focus straight ahead, even when others are driving (or close my eyes if I am a passenger). I think getting one of those glass hammers in my car might make me relax a little. Knowing the cause of my phobia unfortunately hasn't helped me to get over it.

posted on Tue, 05/15/2012 - 11:52am
Mitch's picture
Mitch says:

Try Niacinamide (3000 mg a day). That might help with the anxiety aspect. Google it if you haven't already. It's an over-the-counter vitamin/supplement that appears to really work.

posted on Tue, 05/22/2012 - 6:45am
Barzee's picture
Barzee says:

I had my first attack half way over the Westgate Bridge in Melb. Aus. I think I was hit by a gust of wind or fast moving truck, but I was convinced I was going to drive off the side of the bridge and id didn't matter how hard I held onto the steering wheel, I just didn't seem to be going straight (even though I was). A few days later I had to drive from Melb. back to Sydney - 8 hours and that trip was an absolute nightmare! Every time the road narrowed, crossed a creek, or even just a culvert I went into full blown panic. I didn't matter how often I stopped, or told myself how stupid I was. My stomach dropped, I was lightheaded and in tears. But I did make it home. Life has never been the same since. I too will go around certain areas where there I bridges I just can't cross. Will always look at the route I have to travel to see what is likely to be ahead. Not all bridges cause me trouble. The Sydney Harbour is not issue, it is a long flat bridge, no arch. My main problem is with bridges that have a long sloping and sweeping view approach, i.e. over ravines. That downward movement gives me a full on attack and this may be a form of vertigo. I note with interest the number of people who claim to have had their first attacks in their 40's. So was mine and I think was strong related to the onset of menopause. Just a thought. I keep thinking I should have my ears checked for a possible imbalance there. But really I know it is in my head. On long trips when I know a bridge is approaching I chant "bridges don't bother me anymore". over and over and I get through. But life is certainly difference now. I also turn up whatever song is on the radio and just blast through it. Good luck to all my fellow suffers. xx

posted on Thu, 05/24/2012 - 8:21pm
Unknown's picture
Unknown says:

I never had an issue with driving whether on highways, bridges, or tunnels until approximately 2 years ago. Seemingly out of no where I became petrified of passing or being passed by tractor trailers. While that fear is not completely gone, it has subsided quite a bit. However, a new fear has taken its place. Driving through tunnels is very distressing for me. Like an earlier post, if the tunnel is clear, I have little trouble. The same fear comes from bridges as well. Typically, arched bridges are difficult. Only very long (over one mile) "flat" bridges give me anxiety.

It is odd as I have no idea how or why these fears have come. Day to day driving I have no problem. It is the highway (for a long distance), tunnels, and bridges cause almost paralyzing fear, although I know it is irrational.

posted on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 1:15pm
acrophobic's picture
acrophobic says:

I too have a fear of driving over a high bridge. Two questions: Tomorrow I have to drive from the Eastern Shore to Alexandria, VA. I will have to pay the people to drive me over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (no way for that one) but then it occurs to me that I will probably have to cross the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Has anyone done that? How is it? Doable or no? Second question, how can you find out in advance if your route has a bad bridge? If someone would publish something like that it would make my life MUCH easier. Thanks for the help! It helps just seeing this site.

posted on Fri, 11/16/2012 - 3:40pm
Greenlee's picture
Greenlee says:

I grew up on the lower east side of New York City. I was surrounded by the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and Manhattan bridges. When I was a little girl looking at these bridges didn't bother me. However, in my 30's, I found it terrifying to look at these monstrosities looming hundreds of feet. I find the Brooklyn Bridge the most terrifying to look at. Sometimes when I wash my hair, I think that I am under one of these bridges. I get out of the shower as soon as possible. Whenever I hear Simon and Garfunkel sing that classic song,"Bridge Over
Troubled Water", I see one of these ugly things with water hitting against it. I keep my eyes closed whenever I see one of these bridges on tv or I have to cross one by car when my husband is driving over it. If I don't keep my ears closed, I will see this horrific sight at night when I am trying to go to sleep. I don't find other bridges terrifying to look at.

posted on Sat, 12/01/2012 - 7:23am
JackieT's picture
JackieT says:

I am kind of glad to see that I am not the only one who has this fear, although I wouldn't wish it upon anyone! I relocated to nc from nj 7 years ago, I traveled alone alot in the first year or two and never had an issue crossing the Delaware bridge. The past few years I have developed such a fear of it that I start getting nervous 30 minutes or so before I even approach it! Once I am about to drive over it I get so nervous it's almost paralyzing. My body literally feels numb and I feel like I could pass out, which I then start panicking about that! I feel like I'm not in control of the car and that I will uncontrollably just turn my wheel and drive off of it or crash into other cars. I have a fear of heights when something is not enclosed. Oddly enough I went skydiving once and that didn't bother me the same way! ??
Even at school, there are open walkways between buildings on campus, and I force myself to cross it on the second floor, but can't get myself to do it on the third level. Also, I can't walk on stairs that are open, going up is slightly better but I have made a fool out of myself many times trying to go down! I walk up to it trying to ignore my fear and then just turn around! My best friend once left me at the top of the stairs on the third floor at the mall! How silly, but I can't help it!!

posted on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:26am
Jenna mcc's picture
Jenna mcc says:

It's interesting to note how many people's phobia's increase after 40. I'm wondering how many of these people have heart valve prolapse which causes anxiety. Heart valve prolapses problems increase w/age.

My problem is the panic that sets in. I may not be scared in my head but all of a sudden I get these short of breath, light headed etc... It's very scary. Now that I have a small son I really don't want to cross over a bridge because I'm afraid I'll end up crashing.

It's the fact that I can't get off, that I'm stuck. this is eased if the bridge has a lane you can pull over in.

I really think beta blockers would help people who have to take the bridge for work. get a script from a Dr. just for this. It can cause fainting when standing if it give you low heart rate so check your pulse. Anyway, beta blockers control this reaction well in my experience.

posted on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 5:15pm
NoBridgeFearAnyMore's picture
NoBridgeFearAnyMore says:

I have developed fears of big bridges with large metal strucures. This fear took the fun away from the trips. Recently I have successfully used the following technique to overcome the fear. It works. Try it.
1. Do not look up the bridges ahead of time. This prevents your brain from playing the picture over and over abain
2. When you know the bridge is coming up, bring the visor down so your visibility window is small but yet safe.This will hide the fact that you are going up and prevents from seeing the Apex of the bridge.
3. As you go up the bridge look and recite the licence plate of the car ahead of you, or focus on the painted lines
4. No matter what do not look to the right or the left just forward. Before you know it you have crossed the bridge.

I have tried this technique on a local bridge that I could not cross before and I crossed it with flying color.

Best of luck to all.

posted on Wed, 04/03/2013 - 12:51pm
janet's picture
janet says:

Thank you so much for your suggestions and reinforcement.. Will utilize these new techniques on my next trip around DC, the 495 Overpass is an issue for me, ended up driving directly through Washington to avoid that one.. Don't want to do that again..Am 61 and have been dealing with this problem for about 10 years or so.. I do take a small mg.xanax to cross bridges and high overpasses, but always feel like either i'm going to float off, or pass out and then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.. SOOO sorry that you have this issue also, it is disabling....

posted on Fri, 07/17/2015 - 9:31am
Cinderellagirl's picture
Cinderellagirl says:

I have a terrible fear of bridges. It's debilitating. I've had to cross many bridges. If I'm driving, I'm at 25-35 mph just to do it. If I'm not driving, I'm cowering in the floorboard as another drives. Just sitting in the seat with my eyes closed doesn't help. I've had to drive the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, several different 3 deck flyover overpasses, as well as several bridges in Florida. I'm a white knuckle mess. My daughter is an animal lover, She wants so badly to go to Clearwater Fl. I can drive all the way from Gaston County NC to Tampa ok (with a squeamish moment over St. Johns River) , but I'll never make it over the International Skyway Bridge. Now I know it's an unfounded fear..and I have a fear of trains grounded in the fact that at 4 years of age the car I was in stalled on the tracks and a Southern Railway train demolished it, with me in the car. My mom, little sister and I all survived. The later passed away in a car wreck with several cars and a transfer truck, so I do have grounds for fear...letting someone else drive over it for me will not alleviate the panic I feel as I'm still in the vehicle and going over the bridge. I may feel more confident if I know that the state of the bridges in our country was better, but when you hear how horrible most are...who wants to cross over them? NOT ME!

posted on Sun, 06/02/2013 - 12:23pm
donna's picture
donna says:

I have lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for almost fifty years. I've crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I didn't pay any attention to it until this spring. For some reason while crossing I started to panic, sweating, couldn't breathe, thought I was going to pass out. Now I am terrified to cross it even if someone else is driving. I wish I knew why this started happening. even more, I wish I knew how to stop it from happening.

posted on Wed, 07/10/2013 - 2:49pm
Scared's picture
Scared says:

I am relieved to see others with the exact same problems I have. I too suddenly became anxiety ridden, with the same symptoms you all describe of dizziness, hyperventilation, and the urge to either drive off the side of a bridge. I know my fear is irrational, and I still do not know exactly what it is I fear. I am not afraid of collapse, or of being trapped. It is the fear of suddenly going over the side, that I will lose control for whatever reason and just go plummeting off the side into the water. I also have the same reaction driving on roads with drop offs on the side with no guardrails, mainly if I am going uphill. It scares me to death. I shake uncontrollably, get very dizzy, and get the "jerks" as one other poster mentioned, uncontrollable jerking and shaking. I am scared I will have a heart attack. It is so depressing, because I love to travel. This started in my late 30's, and is much worse now in my late 40's. I feel trapped by my fears :(

posted on Fri, 07/19/2013 - 7:17pm
Rich's picture
Rich says:

My first panic attack happened when I was 40 while crossing the Coronado Bay bridge in San Diego. Just like most of you have posted, it came out of the blue as I had never had a problem before driving over bridges.

The higher the bridge, the worse it is. Long bridges are a problem too.

I know this is bad advise, but having a few drinks before driving over a bridge helps a lot. However, I am definitely not advocating drunk driving.

Like the rest of you, this problem has impacted negatively impacted my life. I am 56 now, and live north of New Orleans. I can not drive to New Orleans by myself as it would require driving across a 26 mile causeway, or high bridges approaching on I10

posted on Tue, 10/01/2013 - 7:28am
Mari's picture
Mari says:

Guess I am happy this doesn't apply to me. Growing up in NYC, I had to cross bridges or use the tunnels to go anywhere. I moved to Va Bch, VA 50 yrs ago and have been traveling the CBBT several times a year, and the HRBT too, since it is near impossible to go anywhere w/o crossing a brigde or tunnel here. I have crossed big bridges in FL, GA, over the Miss. all the way to the west coast and back I have a friend who almost caused me to have an accident, when she grabbed the steering wheel as I was driving over the Brooklyn Bridge.. she never sat in the front seat me again.

posted on Wed, 07/09/2014 - 5:01pm
El Jefe's picture
El Jefe says:

The fear happened 4 years ago when I was 40 on the Havre de Grace bridge in MD where a huge gust of wind pushed our Honda Pilot completely into another lane in the middle of the bridge. After numerous trips to NJ and NY it came to a head on the Verrazano bridge where the panic attack hit me like a rock. Since then I have avoided major bridges. I will say that the Delaware Memorial Bridge Authority service to drive people with this condition is a welcomed blessing and I have personally used their services. I have had to alter routes when I am driving alone to avoid these scenarios. Everything about this phobia is true, sweaty palms, rapid heart beat, panic attacks, the shakes and the fear of passing out while driving and causing a major accident. I had a situation while on the Jersey Shore this summer attempting to cross over to Tom's River and when I saw the bridge 2 miles in front of me I had to immediately turn around. I am not sure if there is a sure-fire remedy for this phobia. I can no longer cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Havre De Grace, James River Bridge and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. I feel absolutely pathetic but at least my wife, parents and In-laws understand.

posted on Fri, 09/12/2014 - 7:56am
Lauren's picture
Lauren says:

I can understand what everybody is saying. I live in Maryland, and I used to go to Ocean City, MD every other weekend. The other reason I stop is that I hated crossing the Chesapeake Bridge. But whenever I go that way and cross the bridge, I have to have someone on the line. I will keep talking until I am on the other side. I have fear of that bridge, my knees start shaking once I get on it. It is probably because it is wide open. I drove the Golden Gate Bridge when I went to San Francisco, but didn't feel the way I felt going over the Chesapeake Bridge!

posted on Fri, 09/12/2014 - 11:16am
Shannon's picture
Shannon says:

I suffer from gephyrophobia and I live in an area with a high concentration of bridges/tunnels. I try not to cross them unless I have to.. my fear of bridges is so pronounced that I will begin to shake, become nauseated, terror sets in and have anxiety. My phobia stems from a childhood incident where a caretaker held me over the side of a bridge for misbehavior.. I have been petrified of bridges since then. I am okay with foot bridges but tunnels and bridges over water literally terrify me! I refuse to visit another part of the region if I can avoid crossing a bridge!

posted on Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:30am
Rick B's picture
Rick B says:

Very interesting reading all these comments as they seem to fall into several categories. I can especially relate to those who find the initial climb up difficult or high overpasses with low or open guard rails at the side. (Once I get to the crest and can see down the other side, I'm fine.) I tend to avoid them if I can and I drive very cautiously and slowly over such bridges if I have no choice; at times I've had someone behind me flash their lights or tailgate me in a bullying way and that just makes it all the worse. I'm okay as a passenger but the idea that I might lose control is a big factor. I think this may have started years ago when I drove across the Burlington Bay bridge (west of Toronto) in a strong wind and it felt like I might get blown into the next lane or off the side. Personally, I find that bridges that have a superstructure to be not so bad as I have a feeling of being less exposed. And I've found it somewhat helpful to just keep reminding myself that I'm a fairly good driver and that this is just another piece of road.

I've driven over the Mackinac bridge and almost stopped dead in the middle of it from fear. And I've gone over the Blue Water bridge in Sarnia/Port Huron seven times now but I dread it. The only bright side is that I like it every time it's over and I feel that I've conquered it.

But I have a similar problem with stacked (high) overpasses and highway engineers seem to keep building more and more of these. They're all exposed and many have these low concrete guard rails that look like they'd fall over if a seagull hit them. I think it might be time to form a group to lobby against these.

But here's my question. I'm about to go on a multi-day driving trip and I can't find any information on this. I'll be taking I-75 from Detroit down to Ft. Lauderdale and return. Does anyone know if there are any high overpasses on that route and, if so, are they easily avoidable?

Many thanks, R.

posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 8:34am
Jamal's picture
Jamal says:

Thought I was the only with this fear. I just came off my first cruise with my girlfriend & got real anxious & panicky everytime we were out on the upper deck by the railings. Same feeling I get when I'm crossing tall brdges over water.I got through it by telling myself it was just nonsense in my head. I've always had a fear of heights but it's ratcheted up when water is involved. Oddly enough I often go fishing on small charter boats out in the Chesapeake bay with no problem. It's the height & water combined. Well thanks internet I don't feel so crazy no......Go Terps !

posted on Tue, 03/03/2015 - 7:52am
ed rogers's picture
ed rogers says:

here's a tip that helped me with bridges, don't look at the water on the left or right side. just look at the road in front of you. just keep watching the road and the fact you are grounded to the road in front of you and you'll be ok.

posted on Mon, 05/25/2015 - 2:33pm
Julie's picture
Julie says:

As a child I used to love to walk on ledges and jump from one structure to another and sometime would fall and get hurt but still enjoyed doing this. Also I loved to roll on my side down hills until one day I had climbed too high up the hill and when I began rolling, it became out of control and I was grabbing at the weeds and things trying to stop. My mother had warned of the snakes in the creek below and I guess I thought the snakes would now get me for climbing too high. After this, I couldn't look out the car window when crossing a bridge and if the bridge was huge like the ones going to the ocean, I would get in the floor board of the car. With lots of trips in the car, I suppose I became immune to it. I have lived at the base of a mountain for 20 years and had to drive up and down a steep grade but was glad I seemed to enjoy it and that the road was wide and had good guard rails. One day we accidently got on a wrong road which took us up the mountain on an even steeper grade and it was narrow with no guard rails and it had 27 switch backs before we got to the top. I prayed the whole way up and felt like it took 30 more minutes to stop the feeling like I was top heavy and about to topple over. So after 20 years of traveling the wider road up and down this mountain, I began to even have problems with that one. I refused to let it get me. It's been over a year now and if we have an appointment at the top of the mountain, I grit my teeth and move on ahead after praying. At first it was hard to stop myself from surveying the sides of the road and checking to see if the mountain looked like it was about to have a mud slide or anything. Another thing was that our area was having some mud slides on slopes and they showed where a road side had fallen off. It is hard for me to decide if this is post trama or merely becoming educated at possibilities of danger. I agree with everyone here that the feeling that comes on seems to be physical. When I find myself on a scary road, I always manage to grit my teeth and get us out of it but it is extreme stress. I know that I can trust God to keep me safe and saved yet I suppose my body does not agree.

posted on Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:28pm
Ann's picture
Ann says:

I never used to have a fear of heights, either, like a lot of you, but I do now on some things. I'm slowly getting over my fear of very long escalators (felt like I was pitching forward and going to fall).

We were on vacation with a friend who lives in the Seattle area, and she was taking us around to see the sights. There is a very high bridge over a very deep chasm/gorge and we were planning to walk across it. I was fine until we got about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way across, and, even though I was mentally enjoying the amazing view, my legs were trembling, my heart was pounding, and I felt like I was going to fall - like I had to sit down right where I was to be safe. Of course, everyone around me was just fine, and I knew logically that there was no danger, but my brain was screaming at me to get off the bridge already. So my kind hostess walked back with me to solid ground, and my husband and our other friend continued on across. I was rather embarrassed about the whole thing, but there was nothing I could do about it. It's so irrational, really.

posted on Fri, 09/18/2015 - 10:12am

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