Vertigo is a symptom where you feel that the world around them seems to be spinning or moving. Vertigo can vary from a mild attack through to a severe attack where you may be unable to face doing everyday tasks. So asking whether “can vertigo cause anxiety” is a fair question.
Mild vertigo attacks can develop suddenly and just last for a few seconds, leaving a barely noticeable dizziness which doesn’t raise any red flags. However, for severe vertigo sufferers, their symptoms may be constant over several hours or days. Other symptoms associated to vertigo may include dizziness, anxiety, loss of balance, and malaise – a general feeling of unwellness.
What are anxiety and dizziness?
Feeling a bit anxious is a common thing. You may be worried about an interview or a big exam. If it’s a bit more severe you may lose your appetite, and feel a bit moody. Such low grade anxiety is normal and nothing too much to worry about. However, medically diagnosed anxiety is the feeling of unease, including fear, which could be quite severe.
Dizziness however, can be defined as a range of sensations where you might feel weak, woozy, and lightheaded. Often people call vertigo dizziness though the two are not the same thing. Frequent dizziness attacks can be sometimes misdiagnosed as vertigo.
The link between vertigo and anxiety
Vertigo is really a symptom of other medical conditions, rather than a diagnosis as such. Underlying causes can include viral infections of your inner ear (Vestibular Neuritis), fluid build-up in the inner ear (Meniere’s Disease), or lose crystals in the inner ear (BPPV). Regardless of the cause though, vertigo can be extremely distressing, and over a prolonged period of time is can result in anxiety.
Interestingly there’s also research suggesting that anxiety can cause vertigo and dizziness for some people, so it’s kind of a two way street! Furthermore, elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, may impact neural information transmission from the vestibular system to the brain. Stress hormones disrupt nerve channel connections and neurotransmission in the brain, changing the way your brain functions.
How to treat vertigo and dizziness
Several medical approaches, including physical therapy, medical prescriptions, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes can help vertigo and therefore may theoretically help the anxiety produced by the vertigo.
Physiotherapy is usually the standard treatment for vestibular (vertigo) disorders, such as Meniere’s disease, BPPV, and vestibular migraines. Exercises targeted to the eyes, head, walking, and balance can help reduce the severity of vertigo and dizziness frequency of attacks.
Sometimes your doctor will also prescribe medications to help with both vertigo and anxiety. Be sure to discuss your treatment options with them.
Techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have a long history of success in treating anxiety disorders. Increasing the self-awareness of anxiety while learning coping skills may help reduce symptoms of chronic vertigo.
4. Lifestyle changes
Relaxation techniques can be an essential part of managing daily stress levels. You may find that regularly practicing yoga, meditation, and gentle exercises to curb everyday stress and anxiety symptoms helps.
So if you’re experiencing vertigo and/or dizziness, call us now to get help. Rather than suffering, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get relief. Call on 03 9034 7735 or click to book an appointment online.
Meli A, Zimatore G, Badaracco C, De Angelis E, Tufarelli D. Effects of vestibular rehabilitation therapy on emotional aspects in chronic vestibular patients. J Psychosom Res. 2007 Aug;63(2):185-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.02.007. PMID: 17662755.