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Can Anxiety Cause Balance Problems

What Is A Balance Disorder

Anxiety – Dizziness/”Off-Balance” Feeling

A balance disorder is a condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy. If you are standing, sitting, or lying down, you might feel as if you are moving, spinning, or floating. If you are walking, you might suddenly feel as if you are tipping over.

Everyone has a dizzy spell now and then, but the term dizziness can mean different things to different people. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of faintness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning that lasts a long time.

About 15 percent of American adults had a balance or dizziness problem in 2008. Balance disorders can be caused by certain health conditions, medications, or a problem in the inner ear or the brain. A balance disorder can profoundly affect daily activities and cause psychological and emotional hardship.

How Hyperventilation Affects Breathing

When you aren’t getting a full breath, it may feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, so you try to take deeper breaths. But you’d be surprised to learn that that feeling isn’t caused by not getting enough of a breath – it’s actually caused by getting too much oxygen.

The act of getting too much oxygen can make your body feels like it needs more air, causing you to try to breathe in deeper. This never works, however, because the problem is caused by an overabundance of oxygen and not enough CO2. It may cause your hyperventilation to get worse, causing other symptoms like:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Leg/Extremity Weakness
  • Rapid Heartbeat

This is actually one of the main reasons that anxiety attacks occur. During an anxiety attack, the individual often feels like they aren’t getting enough air so they try to breathe deeper. This causes the body to be depleted of CO2, which can make you feel as though you’re going through a serious health problem – like a heart attack – causing a surge of anxiety that may lead to panic and numerous physical symptoms.

Hyperventilation itself is also often misunderstood. It can occur for several reasons, including:

It’s also possible that coughing or sitting awkwardly can lead to over-breathing, and these may also trigger the symptoms of hyperventilation.

Arachnoid Cyst And Anxiety

anxiety won’t cause an arachnoid cyst to grow bigger and put additional pressure on the brain. Patients with arachnoid cyst have higher levels of anxiety and depression than do the general population, patients with a right temporal cyst showed higher anxiety, depression than did patients with a left temporal cyst. Anxiety and stress by itself may not affect arachnoid cysts.

Read more about: Arachnoid cyst treatment

Read Also: How To Cope With Medical Anxiety

How Can Believing This Myth Make Things Worse

Drugs used to treat the fictitious chemical imbalance produce mixed results. Some people experience a reduction in symptoms, some experience no benefit, and some find their medication makes them feel much worse.

Moreover, anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications often lose their effectiveness over time, or worse, cause side effects that linger long after the medication has been discontinued.

Furthermore, its not uncommon for doctors to multiple-medicate in the hopes of finding the right balance between symptom reduction and countering the side effects of all of the medications. These drugs and cocktails can be difficult to come off, and have been shown to have the potential to even cause long-term harm.

Additionally, research has shown that discontinuing anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications can be extremely difficult with many people coming off and going back on multiple times during their lifetime.

If these medications arent actually fixing anything real, why delay or permanently stall your recovery by applying the wrong solution to the wrong problem?

Many of our members and therapy clients have had horror stories about their medications, with many having great difficulty breaking free of the very medications their doctors said would help.

Treating a real problem with the wrong solution isnt our idea of a solution.

Sadly, the chemical imbalance theory has been a tragic distraction away from meaningful help that can produce excellent results.

Can Anxiety Make You Dizzy

Balance Disorder: Causes And Symptoms

Anxiety disorders affect more than 18 percent of the population, adding up to more than 40 million adults in the United States alone. Chronic anxiety, or anxiety that occurs over an extended period of time, can cause a wide range of symptoms but can anxiety make you dizzy? Surprisingly, yes. In fact, dizziness is a common symptom associated with both acute and chronic anxiety. Read on to find out more about the connection between dizziness and anxiety.

Read Also: What Can Anxiety Lead To

Its Both An Acute And Chronic Problem

Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that the anxiety creates a negative feedback loop.

The dizziness and vertigo cause the initial feeling of panic and anxiety, which in turn causes the vertigo and dizziness to worsen and happen more frequently. This only causes more anxiety, at which point the vicious cycle repeats.

In a lot of ways, the panic and anxiety experienced during acute vertigo or dizziness is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It multiplies your suffering at the height of an already horrible experience, while also worsening your symptoms on an ongoing basis.

Fortunately, its not all bad news.

Because the balance issues and anxiety are so closely intertwined, if you work to get your anxiety under control, the severity of your dizziness, vertigo, and other symptoms should improve as well. At the very least, you will be able to cope a lot more effectively.

The best strategy is to immediately start taking steps to reduce your anxiety.

So to help you get started, Ive put together a list of strategies that have helped me manage my own anxiety-related Menieres disease, a vestibular disorder Ive lived with for nearly a decade.

Some of the strategies are best used during acute episodes of dizziness or vertigo, while others are meant to bring overall stress and anxiety levels down throughout your life.

How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder

There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:

  • Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
  • Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
  • Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.

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Strengths And Limitations Of The Study

As discussed previously, psychiatric factors may affect both the onset and the recovery of BPPV. Few studies have examined psychiatric symptoms as factors that may affect treatment outcomes of BPPV and as precursors of its recurrence. Staab et al. reported a single case of a 41-year-old woman with several combined neurotologic diseases as well as health anxiety, and suggested that psychological factors could have adversely affected her treatment outcomes . Results from our study support this assessment. The clinical characteristics of our patient population are also fully comparable to other studies. Collectively, results from the previous reports mentioned above along with our representative patient demographics strongly reinforce the dependability of our study.

When Should I Go To The Emergency Room For An Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety/Off balance feeling

Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can resemble symptoms of a heart attack or another health emergency. If youre experiencing an anxiety attack for the first time, or youre concerned in any way about your health, call 911 or head to the nearest ER. A healthcare provider will check you for serious or life-threatening conditions.

If youre having an anxiety attack and unsure whether you should head to an ER or not, its better to go. Healthcare professionals can make sure youre OK and give you any necessary treatment.

Read Also: Can Anxiety Make You Cry

Treating Anxiety And Dizziness

The good news is that anxiety and dizziness can often be treated together as connected issues. If you or a loved one have anxiety symptoms that are negatively impacting daily life taking a toll on school, work, or friendships, for example professional help is available. In additional to connecting with a mental health provider who specializes in anxiety, individuals struggling with dizziness and anxiety should prioritize vestibular care. By addressing underlying issues in the vestibular system, a dizziness and balance specialist will be able to reduce dizziness symptoms and, ideally, accompanying anxiety.


So, can anxiety make you dizzy? The answer is yes. If youre experiencing both issues, a dizziness and balance expert is an excellent resource to help you start feeling better.

Are you or a loved one struggling with anxiety? Are you in need of medical advice and wondering where to turn? Reach out to the professionals at the National Dizzy & Balance Center. We specialize in diagnosing and treating vestibular disorders, including concussions and ongoing dizziness, which can often contribute to anxiety. Our talented team members can design a personalized plan to relieve your symptoms. To learn more about our approach, please contact us online or by phone. Or if youre ready to get started, schedule your free medical consultation today.

Other Conditions That Can Bring On Vertigo

There are many potential causes of vertigo. Some of the more common causes include ear infections, BPPV, and Menieres disease.

  • Vestibular neuritis is a viral infection of your vestibular nerve and can cause intense vertigo by impairing neural transmissions from your ear to your brain.
  • Vestibular labyrinthitis is a viral infection of your inner ear that can disrupt the transmission of neural information between your vestibular system and brain.
  • Menieres disease is a buildup of fluid in your inner ear that can cause vertigo, hearing problems, or ringing in your ear.
  • BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It develops when calcium carbonate crystals form inside your semicircular canals and disrupt the neural messages sent to your brain.
  • Vestibular migraine refers to an episode of vertigo in people who experience migraine. Its not clear what causes these episodes, but similar to migraine attacks, stress is thought to be a trigger.
  • Cholesteatoma is a noncancerous skin growth most commonly caused by repeated ear infections. It can cause vertigo if it grows into your inner ear.

Its generally a good idea to see a doctor anytime youve been experiencing severe, unexplained, or reoccurring dizziness or vertigo. You should also see a doctor if your dizziness is accompanied by:

  • fainting
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

Read Also: When To Know You Need Anxiety Medication

Subsequent Dizziness Episodes Unleash Vicious Cycle

Once is scary enough, but for many vestibular patients it starts to happen more and more frequently, and it often strikes at random. Anxiety increases and the fear makes it hard to leave the house. What if it happens again while youre out? What if it happens while youre driving?

Of course, you go to the doctor, but there is a fair chance that your doctor wont know whats wrong with you either. The average vestibular patient sees 5 to 7 doctors before getting an accurate diagnosis, potentially suffering for years before getting any kind of helpful answer.

To make matters worse, your symptoms are invisible. You dont look sick, so everyone assumes youre fine, but theyre wrong. Youre suffering on every levelphysically, emotionally, psychologicallyand nobody really understands what youre going through. You worry that people will think you are exaggerating, or worse, that youre just lazy. Many do.

When you finally get a diagnosis, you take to the internet to learn more, but a lot of what you find conflicts with everything else you find, and its all terrifying.

The worst-case scenario becomes fixed in your mind, further amplifying your fear and anxiety. And all the while you are suffering. The vertigo and dizziness are getting worse, your quality of life is in shambles, and other symptoms are popping up as well.

There is an unbelievable amount of uncertainty and fear at every step of a vestibular patients journey.

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With this number of possibilities, it isn’t all that surprising that a cause is not always found. Indeed, it is estimated that in one out of every five people complaining of dizziness who go to the doctor, a cause is never found. Fortunately even if the cause hasn’t been found, the symptom of dizziness often settles in time.

Read Also: What Can You Take For Anxiety

How Can Emotions Trigger Vertigo

The physical causes of vertigo can trigger this symptom by interfering with the balance organs in the inner ear or by affecting the blood supply to your brain, which can make you feel lightheaded and dizzy. Emotional triggers can cause vertigo in a slightly different way.

You may have heard of the flight or fight response, which is triggered by stressful, worrying or frightening situations. It happens because our adrenaline levels go up in response to these types of situations. Adrenaline activates the autonomic nervous system, which prepares our bodies to run away or fight back if we need to. It speeds up our heartbeat and breathing, dilates our eyes and makes us more alert. It can also cause unpleasant side effects such as unsteadiness, dizziness and vertigo.

You can experience these effects if youre feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. These emotions can trigger the symptoms of an underlying issue such as an inner ear condition, but they can also cause vertigo by themselves.

Cerebral Cortical Vestibular & Interoceptive Processing

Vestibulothalamocortical projections have been regarded as a gateway for vestibular information to interact with conscious sensory and cognitive processes. Dieterich and Brandt have reviewed imaging results with regard to the potential roles of telencephalic regions in perceptual phenomena, navigation and limbic manifestations . Functional imaging studies during caloric irrigation or galvanic stimulation have demonstrated patterns indicating increased blood flow in the regions corresponding to vestibular sensorimotor processing regions , interoceptive regions of the insula and cognition-related regions that include the posterior and anterior cingulate gyri, orbitofrontal cortex and several prefrontal fields . The fields associated with sensorimotor processing and the interoceptive insula regions were activated consistently by either caloric or galvanic stimulation the other regions were activated less consistently. The parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus are also included because they have an important role in navigation and spatial orientation , show changes in functional imaging studies during caloric irrigation of the ear and show signs of atrophy in patients with bilateral vestibular loss .

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