We often receive questions about whether dizziness can be a sign or symptom of anxiety. Some of our members have written about chronic dizziness that has interfered with their ability to live their life. One member wrote, “Could not go into stores without getting woozy…I literally stayed home for 2 months”
When you go to the doctor because you are feeling dizzy, an inner ear infection is one of the first things a doctor will look at. When tests for that come back negative, you might be sent for an MRI, EEG, echocardiogram or have a blood sugar test done for anemia, low blood sugar or thyroid levels.
Our members have described litanies of medical tests and when they come back negative, doctors may not know what is causing the dizziness.
A study completed in 2007 showed that chronic dizziness with no physical causes can be caused by anxiety. In the study, 2,400 patients complaining of dizziness, vertigo or imbalance problems were examined and it was found that anxiety was a contributing factor to undefined, chronic dizziness. Other causes included migraine, traumatic brain injury and abnormal functioning of the autonomic nervous system.
The study also found that dizziness caused by anxiety doesn’t share the same characteristics as dizziness caused by inner ear infections. For example, dizziness caused by anxiety gives a sense of swaying, triggered by movement, such as being in a crowd, around flashing lights or in heavy traffic. In addition, many people with chronic dizziness had problems with concentration as well as problems in relationships and at work.
If you are experiencing dizziness, the first step is to see your doctor and rule out any physical reasons. If it is determined that it is anxiety causing the dizziness, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Anxiety is often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy and/or medications. Treating your anxiety should help to reduce your feelings of dizziness.
These types of treatment, however, take time. As you continue your treatment, the following tips may help when you are feeling dizzy:
- Keep your eyes open and focus on a single spot, at least 10 feet in front of you. As you concentrate, you should begin to feel the dizziness go away.
- Eat small meals throughout the day. A drop in your blood sugar can cause dizziness and can be a trigger for your anxiety as well.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Use deep breathing techniques as soon as you start to feel dizzy.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.