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My sons anxiety
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Jodi4 posted:
My 17 yar old son has taken his drivers test 3 times. While I was watching him take his test his hands were shaking so bad he looked like he was waving. Is there anything that I can do to help him with his test anxiety?
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
What you are describing is a combination of both test and performance anxiety. It's certainly not uncommon for anyone taking a driving test, knowing how important the outcome may be, to be pretty anxious.

The one thing that I would suggest is that he begin practicing relaxation breathing (we have a video tutorial on this in our Tips column) then he will be able to learn to calm himself down. The other thing that he can begin to do is to use visualization in thinking about going to the test (and using the breathing), thinking about getting into the car and using the breathing, and thinking about just allowing himself to relax in the seat.

It must have been extremely difficult and terribly disappointing for him to have to take this test three times and not succeed. At least I'm assuming that since you said he took it three times that he still has not gotten his driver's license. Is that correct?

In extreme cases where even the relaxation breathing and the preparation has not been helpful, he can talk to his PCP and see if a medication that is used for performance anxiety might be helpful. This medication is not normally used in any type of psychiatric illness and, in fact, is primarily used for high blood pressure. I'm not an MD, but I do know that individuals who have to make speeches before audiences or presentations in class or some other important performance are prescribed this medication just for that specific occasion. It is not taken on a regular basis and, therefore, should not be a problem. He and his physician should discuss this.

I hope this is helpful and I do hope your son is successful in his efforts.


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