Can Anxiety Cause Vertigo?

can anxiety cause vertigo

If you have ever had vertigo, you know how scary it can be. Whether it comes on suddenly or is a chronic condition, vertigo makes it feel like the world is spinning wildly. While there are some known causes, you may wonder, can anxiety cause vertigo?

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that can cause an array of symptoms, including dizziness. The stress hormones associated with anxiety may impact the vestibular system, causing sudden vertigo. Read on to learn more about anxiety, and if it can cause vertigo.

About Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder is the most prevalent mental health challenge with about one in five people struggling with it each year. There are several types of anxiety, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Social anxiety.
  • Phobia
  • Panic disorder.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • PTSD

Anxiety symptoms are triggered by the fight-or-flight response. This occurs when someone senses danger or a loss of control followed by a release of stress hormones. This hormonal response causes many symptoms, such as:

  • Racing heart.
  • Chest tightening.
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension.
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is an imbalance in the inner ear. It can be caused by many conditions, including labyrinthitis, Meniere’s disease, and BPPV. Anxiety, especially panic disorder, can also cause the symptoms of vertigo.

Other less common causes of vertigo include head or neck injury, stroke, brain tumor, and migraine headaches.

Symptoms of vertigo include:

  • Spinning
  • Swaying
  • Feeling off balance.
  • Listing to one direction.
  • Tilting

Does Anxiety Cause Vertigo?

In the pure sense, most sources would say that anxiety does not cause vertigo. Anxiety can cause dizziness, nausea, and lightheadedness, though, which are symptoms linked to vertigo. The hyperventilation that can occur during a panic attack is what is said to spur the vertigo-like symptoms.

On the other hand, a 2016 study looked at 15,000 participants over a nine-year period, half with anxiety and a half without. The study revealed that those with anxiety disorder were at 2.17 times higher risk for developing vertigo. The type of vertigo they found was the BPPV. This occurred more in female rather than male study participants.

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One difference is that vertigo is a longer lasting condition, where anxiety-related dizziness comes and goes. Whether or not anxiety causes vertigo, when you feel dizzy and off balance the sensation is troubling. When having a panic attack it is best to find somewhere safe to sit down and just wait it out. Panic attacks usually only last about ten minutes or less.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety stems from fear. The sensations of fear, worry, or dread are what spur the fight-or-flight response. While we all have moments of fear and experience these sensations, someone with an anxiety disorder has repeated events.

Some of the factors that may trigger anxiety include:

  • Genetics. Someone with a family history of anxiety is at increased risk of also developing it.
  • Trauma. Someone who has suffered through trauma may be prone to anxiety. Trauma may be physical or sexual abuse, sudden loss of a loved one, combat stress, or a serious accident.
  • Prolonged stress. Chronic stress caused by pressures at work, money problems, or problems in the marriage can contribute to anxiety disorder.
  • Brain chemistry. Dysfunction in stress hormone production can lead to symptoms of anxiety.
  • Personality traits. Certain personality traits, like being hypersensitive or easily frightened, may lend themselves to anxiety.

How To Reduce Stress

Each of us has our own unique way we respond to daily stressors. Using certain methods to reduce stress can lower the chances of feeling dizzy and off balance.

Consider these healthy coping skills for managing stress:

  • Yoga. Yoga is practiced in many forms and helps calm the mind and the body. Try out a few types of yoga to find the one that is the best fit.
  • Deep breathing techniques. Deep breathing exercises are fast and effective ways to reduce stress.
  • Guided meditation. Audio tracks lead the person, through the use of imagery and suggestion, to a deeply relaxed state of being.
  • Practice mindfulness. Redirect stressful or disturbing thoughts towards focusing on the senses in the present moment to lower stress levels.
  • Massage. Soft tissue massage can relieve muscle tension, which releases toxins and increases blood flow, resulting in deep relaxation.
  • Aromatherapy. Essential oils, like lavender, bergamot, and rose, can relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Exercise. Staying active helps the body produce serotonin and dopamine, which help to reduce stress and boost mood.
  • Journaling. Writing in a journal about struggles, conflicts, and worries can help you process your emotions and promote relaxation.

Sometimes you may need a little extra support for an anxiety disorder. If you are having bouts of vertigo that is not tied to a medical issue, you will benefit from therapy. A residential mental health program offers the highest level of care in a small, intimate setting.

Treatment for anxiety includes:

  • Psychotherapy. By engaging in one-on-one and group therapy, you learn how to change the fear-based messaging that can lead to anxiety symptoms. Therapy sessions provide new insights and techniques to learn how to manage fears that stoke the anxiety.
  • Medications. Medications can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Holistic therapies. Holistic solutions will enhance the effects of therapy by calming the mind. These activities are introduced in treatment but will be useful throughout daily life. They might include meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, Tai Chi, or yoga.

Anxiety can be highly uncomfortable, especially if you have vertigo like symptoms. The good news is that anxiety is very treatable, so seek help now.

Bodhi Mental Health Center Provides Residential Mental Health Treatment for Anxiety

Bodhi Mental Health Center is a wellness program for individuals in need of compassionate guidance toward improved wellbeing. If you wonder if anxiety can cause vertigo, reach out to our team for help. Call us today at (877) 328-1968.