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Why Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness

The Relationship Between Vertigo And Anxiety

Does anxiety cause dizziness?

Many people with vertigo that I meet feel confused, worried or scared about their vertigo symptoms and ask me if there is a relationship between vertigo and anxiety.

In some cases, it is not clear which came first: the symptoms of vertigo or anxiety.

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For any of those of you who love a good sale, you know that the buy one get one free is a favorite way to get freebies. That sale basically means if we purchase one item, we get a second item for free.

That is what I see in the case of severe vertigo and dizziness.

Patients I meet with severe vertigo and dizziness almost always experience some level of anxiety symptoms. In the case of severe, chronic vertigo and dizziness, feelings of anxiety can result from the vertigo, due to repetitive worrisome thoughts related to the vertigo such as:

  • What is the cause of this?
  • Do I have some kind of brain tumor?
  • When is it going to hit me again?
  • Will I be like this for the rest of my life?
  • How much is this going to cost me?
  • How can I work or drive?
  • Who will pick up my kids?
  • Will my spouse be supportive?
  • Why cant my doctor figure out what is wrong?
  • Why isnt anything showing up on any of the tests I had?
  • Will I feel like this forever?

In patients with pre-existing anxiety disorders, the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo can make their symptoms of anxiety much worse, sometimes escalating to anxiety-related depression.


The Inner Ear And Balance

Inside the inner ear is a series of canals filled with fluid. These canals are oriented at different angles and, as the head moves, the movement of the fluid inside these canals tells the brain how far, how fast and in what direction the head is moving.This information is then used by the brain to move the eyes an equal and opposite amount, so that the image that is seen by the eyes does not blur and remains clear.

Another Expert Weighs In

The new study builds on previous research, says Joseph Furman, MD, PhD, a neurologist and professor of otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh and a veteran researcher on the topic.

“If you take a close look at people who are dizzy without a diagnosis of disease, the two main things you are going to come up with are anxiety and migraine,” he says, citing his own and others’ research. “But it is complicated. People with anxiety aren’t immune to vestibular disorders.”

That points to the wisdom, he says, of including both medical and psychological assessments for chronic dizziness.

The study is published in the February issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.

SOURCES: Jeffrey Staab, MD, attending psychiatrist, Penn Balance Center,University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Joseph Furman, MD, PhD, neurologistand professor of otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh. Staab, J.Archives of Otolaryngology Head andNeck Surgery, February 2007 vol 133: pp 170-176.

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Relationships Between Dizziness And Anxiety

The observation that dizziness is linked to anxiety leads to the question of which comes first, dizziness or anxiety? The answer seems to be, it depends. There are three broad diagnostic categories that have been described for the different types of relationship between anxiety and dizziness :

  • Psychiatric vestibular disorders: An anxiety disorder that causes dizziness
  • Example: Someone with a fear of needles may feel dizzy or lightheaded when they have their blood drawn
  • Structural vestibular disorders: Dizziness that is caused by a structural abnormality in the peripheral vestibular system or another balance system causes anxiety
  • Example: Someone who gets dizzy when they turn their head may develop anxiety about moving, especially if they are in a public setting
  • Functional vestibular disorders: Dizziness that is related to anxiety but that cant be linked to a psychological or structural disorder functional disorders describe abnormal function in a physiological system that is structurally normal,
  • Example: Someone who gets motion sickness may become anxious about driving or riding in a vehicle
  • These categories have some overlap, and they may co-exist with each other and with other disorders. Diagnosis is based on whether there is a definite cause for the anxiety and/or dizziness, the frequency and duration of episodes, how long they have been going on, and whether other symptoms are present.

    Binocular Vision Dysfunction: An Overview

    Anxiety and dizziness: Find out why dizziness is a symptom ...

    For our eyes to produce one clear, concise image, they have to work together in perfect synchronization. This enables our brain to take the images seen by both of our individual eyes and combine them into a single image. However, if one of the eyes is even slightly out of sync with the other, the image will not be perfectly clear. We may not realize it at the time, but our brains will refuse to accept this and will automatically respond by telling our eye muscles to work harder to align themselves. This will momentarily fix the issue, but the brain will quickly revert back to the blurred image. What follows is a successive cycle of misalignment and realignment that your brain may interpret as things moving around you, or you yourself moving, causing dizziness amongst other symptoms. Unsurprisingly, this cycle also places a great deal of strain on the eye muscles. These effects are what is known as the symptoms of BVD.

    Dizziness while driving is a common sign of BVD. As you might expect, having such an experience while in control of a vehicle can be extremely dangerous, both for yourself, any passengers in your vehicle, drivers of other vehicles and pedestrians. As such, if you experience any signs of dizziness while driving, it is essential that you seek professional advice right away.

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    Diagnosing And Treating Vertical Heterophoria

    Symptoms of VH overlap with a number of better-known conditions. This is why many patients with VH are misdiagnosed and can go for many years without receiving treatment that actually addresses the root of the problemtheir strained and fatigued ocular muscles. Patients with VH seeking treatment for dizziness often mistake their symptoms for agoraphobia or generalized anxiety. Medical workers typically misdiagnose patients and give them treatment for vertigo or migraines, which turns out to be ineffective.

    If you have experienced the above symptoms, you could have VH. At The Neuro Visual Center of New York, we have extensive experience diagnosing this condition, and our treatments literally change peoples lives. To diagnose VH, we will perform an in-depth exam using state-of-the-art technology that looks for tiny misalignments in your eyes. A regular eye exam cannot detect these misalignments, which is why its important to visit a neurovisual specialist for an accurate diagnosis.

    We treat VH with special aligning prismatic lenses, which help your misaligned eyes to see one clear image rather than two uneven ones. This relieves the burden on your extraocular muscles, significantly reducing or even eliminating VH-related symptoms.

    For more information about VH and its treatment, contact the professionals at The Neuro Visual Center of New York at 224-4888. Were ready to help.

    About Dr. Cheryl Berger Israeloff

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    The Causes Of Anxiety

    The true cause of anxiety is being a human being, gifted with the capacity to imagine a future. As a mental state of apprehension about what might, or might not, lie ahead, anxiety reflects uncertainty about future circumstances, whether regarding ones own health, job, or love life, or climate change or a downturn in the economy. It can be triggered by events in the real worldan upcoming doctors visit, relationship conflict, a rent increaseor generated wholly internally, through thoughts of real or imagined threats .

    Occasional bouts of anxiety are entirely normal and one of the unavoidable costs of being alive anxiety alerts us to danger, compels our attention, and urges us to make necessary preparations to protect ourselves. But sometimes worries intensify or persist, endlessly caroming through the brain without engaging problem-solving mechanisms, or overwhelming them, and impairing the ability to function. Many factors can contribute to prolonged ruminationworry, the cognitive component of anxiety over uncertain outcomes.

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    Vertigo: 7 Triggers And 6 Conditions Associated With It

    Vertigo is a type of dizziness that forces you to feel as if your surroundings or you are spinning out of control. Imagine yourself standing outdoors, relaxing, and looking at the beautiful sceneries around you, then suddenly, you feel like you are riding a merry-go-round. It is how some people experience their vertigo episodes. Vertigo is frequently due to some other health problem. Some individuals go for many years without getting a proper diagnosis.

    This sensation can hit you without warning. It can linger for a few minutes or sometimes, even days. When vertigo happens, it is usually harmless. However, it can put you in danger if you drive on the freeway, operate heavy machinery, or climb the stairs or ladder. People with vertigo usually experience other symptoms such as:

    • Sweating
    • Feeling off-balanced or pulled in one way
    • Double vision
  • A Natural Method to Manage Chronic Vertigo
  • Is Anxiety Ever Good

    Dizziness and Light Headedness due to Anxiety

    Anxiety is the reason your ancestors survived, enabling you to be reading these words now. Anxiety reflects the sensations that are triggered in body and brain in response to perceiving a threat theyre intended as an alarm, to jolt you into paying attention and taking appropriate action to head off possible danger. In short, anxiety protects you. But the system is built to err on the side of caution, which is why we feel anxious even in the absence of a real threat. The sensitivity of the alarm can be reset by traumatic experience so that it is always on. Further, the threats can be wholly invented by your own imaginationthoughts of ways any situation could possibly go wrong. Neither flaw in the system diminishes the value of anxietyto keep you alive.

    Read Also: Can Anxiety Cause You To Throw Up

    What Is A Panic Attack

    Panic attacks can be caused by heredity, chemical imbalances, stress and the use of stimulants .

    Some people have only one or two attacks and are never bothered again. Panic attacks can occur with other psychiatric disorders. In panic disorders, however, the panic attacks return repeatedly and the person develops an intense fear of having another attack. Without help, this “fear of fear” can make people avoid certain situations and can interfere with their lives even when they are not having a panic attack. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the problem and get help.

    Tips for dealing with a panic attack

    • Realize that although your symptoms are frightening, they are an exaggeration of normal stress reactions and aren’t dangerous or harmful.
    • Face the feelings rather than fighting them, and they will become less intense.
    • Don’t add to the panic by asking “What if?” Tell yourself “So what!”
    • Stay in the present. Notice what is actually happening rather than what you think might happen.
    • Rate your fear level on a scale of 1 to 10 and watch it change. Notice that it doesn’t stay at a high level for more than a few seconds.
    • Distract yourself with a simple task like counting backwards or lightly snapping a rubber band around your wrist.
    • When the fear comes, expect it and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away.

    Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

    It is the most prevalent vestibular condition, and this happens when there is an otoconia buildup in the canals of your inner ear. If they transfer to where they should not belong, it will cause a sensation of movement.

    That signal is then relayed to the brain and would result in a vertigo attack. BPPV can occur suddenly, at any time, and for no apparent reasons. This condition happens among those who experienced a head or neck trauma or injury.

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    Migraines Sometimes Cause Vertigo

    It surprises some people to know that dizziness is commonly linked to migraine disease, either with or without headaches, says Debara L. Tucci, MD, an otologist, neurologist, and ear surgeon at Duke Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Other symptoms of migraine-related vertigo include sensitivity to motion, light, and sound, adds Dr. Tucci. About 40 percent of people who have migraines experience dizziness or vertigo, according to VEDA.

    Its Okay To Ask For Help

    Anxiety Dizziness: A Survival Mechanism

    Today, attitudes towards mental health have changed from what they were like in the past, and there is greater acceptance and understanding about mental health. Additionally, there is much more emphasis on self-help and self-care, which can be both good and bad.

    Yes, when youre a little stressed or run-down, sitting in the dark with some scented candles can be beneficial. However, there are cases where anxiety is caused by more than just environment, and physiological imbalances that lead to anxiety cannot be remedied with simply a relaxing night in. There is nothing wrong with that, and theres nothing wrong with talking to a medical professional to find whats best for you moving forward.

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    Are There Risk Factors For Anxiety

    There are multiple factors that create vulnerability to anxiety under stressful circumstances. On a purely psychological level is the ability to manage negative emotions. People lacking emotion regulation skills are at heightened risk of both anxiety and depression. Having a history of adverse life experiences during childhood, such as intense maltreatment or bouts of serious illness, also predisposes people to anxiety. It doesnt change the makeup of genes but it can permanently alter their level of activity so that that the brain is constantly on the lookout for and perceiving potential threats. Perhaps the strongest risk factor for anxiety is having the personality trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are dispositionally inclined to find experiences distressing and to worry.

    Dizziness May Be A Symptom Of Heart Disease

    One simple cause of dizziness is sudden movement, like when you get up too suddenly from your seat or bed. But sometimes dizziness is a sign of a heart condition. Among the cardiovascular-related causes of dizziness are leaking or narrow heart valves, arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, and atherosclerosis, says Patricia Blau, PhD, associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. These can cause dizziness because they reduce blood flow to the brain, according to VEDA.

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    Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:

    Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.

    • Inability to relax
    • Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
    • Nausea, chest pain or pressure
    • Feeling a “lump in the throat”
    • Dry mouth
    • Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
    • Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
    • Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
    • Thoughts of death

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