Moving around with an anxiety disorder

Christian Ratering, Rob van der Heijden, Karel Martens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People with anxiety disorders may encounter anxiety triggers when (planning to) travel(ing) to a destination, affecting their ability to actively participate in society. Using a Multiple Case Study Design, this paper aims to improve our knowledge on mobility-related problems experienced by people with anxiety disorders and their potential impact on these people's daily life. In-depth interviews were held with 40 Dutch adults officially diagnosed with anxiety disorders by professionals in the field of psychology. Data revealed that most interviewees experience a mix of problems in using various transport modes. Interviewees often experience the feeling of being locked up and not being able to escape as anxiety triggers. They perceive the mobility system as complex and overwhelming, while mobility-related information can trigger panic attacks or lower respondents’ stress level. Interviewees employ a variety of coping mechanisms: avoidance of transport modes; avoidance of highways, bridges, tunnels; remaining in a familiar, predictable environment; asking for social support when travel is necessary; and searching for adequate travel information to use before and during travel. Coping with anxiety disorders and mobility-related problems may have far-reaching impacts on professional life, including job switching and job relocation. The study shows that it is challenging to define the boundaries of the topic under study and almost impossible to develop a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to alleviate this population's problems. We end with directions for further research into transport interventions that could benefit people with anxiety disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-506
Number of pages14
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Active mobility
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Driving phobia
  • Mental illness
  • Mobility related problems
  • Public transport

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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