Can Anxiety Cause Dizziness? The Cause & Effect
Anxiety is the most common type of mental illness in the US. Risk factors for anxiety disorders include genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. But it's not just a chronic disorder – anyone can experience anxiety and stress at any time.
You probably know the symptoms: difficulty getting to sleep and feeling rested afterward, digestion problems, having a hard time concentrating, tension in your muscles, getting angry, feeling irritable, and feeling a bit out of control.
But can anxiety cause dizziness? For some of us, dizziness is a side effect of feeling anxious that can cause serious problems and concerns. Feeling dizzy often goes hand in hand with chronic as well as acute anxiety/lightheadedness.
In this article, we'll explain why feeling anxious can make you dizzy and what to do about it.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body's way of responding to an internal or external event that tells the sympathetic nervous system that it's in danger. The body responds by either fighting the problem, running away, or freezing.
Anxiety disorders are a type of chronic anxiety because they are reoccurring and have a long history. Acute anxiety/lightheadedness isn't a disorder. It's a short-lived, situational response, like when you get nervous before giving a speech.
What Is Dizziness?
Dizziness is a general way of describing vertigo and lightheadedness, which usually means someone feels unsteady. Who wouldn't get anxious if their balance was constantly under stress? While there are many reasons someone might get dizzy, the feeling can get really out of hand.
Headaches and dizziness often accompany both chronic anxiety/lightheadedness and acute bouts.
Can Anxiety Cause Dizziness?
If someone tells you that your anxiety/lightheadedness is all in your head, nod and walk away. It practically is, and it's serious.
Research suggests that there is a link between anxiety and dizziness. Dizziness can be rooted in a problem with your health, and if not treated, it can get so bad it causes anxiety. Dizziness can also be a symptom of your anxiety.
In one study, around28% of participants who experienced dizziness also reported having a type of anxiety disorder like social phobia, panic, or generalized anxiety.
Basically, some people feel dizzy and get anxious about it, and others have anxiety which then makes them dizzy.
Can anxiety cause dizziness? Yes, and there are several reasons why you might get dizzy when you're anxious. It often starts because of an underlyinghealth problem like a neurological, psychiatric, or inner ear (vestibular) issue.
Vasovagal syncope is a sudden drop in blood pressure that can make you feel dizzy and disoriented and maybe even cause you to faint.
Any type of anxiety can cause a random drop in blood pressure.
If your doctor asks you to focus on your breath and close your eyes before retaking your blood pressure, it might be because you experienced vasovagal syncope. The most common instance of this symptom is at medical appointments when a person has anxiety about a procedure.
Chronic Subjective Dizziness
Anxious and introverted individuals are more likely than extroverted personalities to present with a neurotologic disorder called Chronic subjective dizziness (CSD).
CSD involves two types of imbalance: one is emotional, and the other is a physical disturbance in the inner ear.
If you find yourself breathing rapidly when you have anxious thoughts, you may become dizzy and faint. That's because oxygen flow to the brain is reduced when a person hyperventilates. Not only can anxiety cause dizziness, but it can also cause you to pass out.
The body's good old sympathetic fight or flight response to stressors kicks it into high gear: fight, run, or hide.
But whenaccumulating stressors create an overall state of anxiety, the body responds by hyperventilating, shaking, reducing blood pressure, and increasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
Thesestress hormones affect the function and balance of the inner ear, or vestibule, and can lead to feelings of anxiety, lightheadedness, and imbalance.
Disorders in the inner ear are associated with feelings of anxiety/dizziness due to the severe disability that they can cause a person.
Some vestibular disorders that are accompanied by chronic vertigo or dizziness can actually cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder.
Benign peripheral persistent vertigo, also known as BPPV, is a disorder that starts in the inner ear and comes with brief bouts of vertigo.
According to astudy by BMC Psychiatry, an inner ear disorder was more likely in people who also had anxiety disorders.
Vertigo makes one feel like they are spinning or swaying constantly. Symptoms of the condition generally include things that a seasick person might experience, like nausea, vomiting, sweating, and difficulty walking.
This extreme dizziness often inhibits the person from being physically and socially active. People diagnosed with vertigo typically experience several limitations in their daily activities, which leads to feeling anxious. Imagine feeling seasick most of the time!
Other Symptoms of Anxiety
We now know that the answer to "can anxiety cause dizziness" is "yes." Many other symptoms accompany anxiety, and they differ depending on the person and the severity.
- Hyperventilation or difficulty breathing
- Chest discomfort (pain or pressure in the chest)
- Trembling or body shakes
- Hot flashes
- Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- Weakness and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor vision
- Sense of disillusionment
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
When to Get Professional Advice
Can anxiety cause dizziness that's dangerous to your well-being? The uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety and lightheadedness aren't usually severe.
However, there are some instances in which they can lead to an emergency, and you should call for medical help right away.
When You Should Call for Emergency Help
You should call for emergency medical help right away if you experience dizziness that's sudden, extreme, or lasts longer than 15 minutes.
Other symptoms that might accompany dizziness and signal a medical emergency include:
- Severe headaches
- Pain in the chest
- Numbness or paralysis
- Seeing double
- Irregular heartbeat
- Unusually slurred speech
- Difficulty walking
- Continuous vomiting
- Sudden hearing changes
When You Should at Least Call Your Doctor
You should schedule a visit with a doctor to talk about your health if you can't find relief from your anxiety and dizziness, and it's getting in the way of your everyday life.
The causes of dizziness can be tricky to diagnose. It's generally a symptom of a bigger problem that can be simple to fix or need further testing to reduce and stop it.
Either way, dizziness can be linked to underlying anxiety and lightheadedness, and if it's not, it could lead to stress and needs to be addressed right away for your good quality of life.
Treatments for Dizziness Related to Vestibular Disorders
Chronic dizziness that's linked to inner ear disorders or other underlying conditions might benefit from physical therapy treatments or medication.
Physical therapy is a common recommendation from doctors for dizziness related to vestibular disorders. The therapy involves exercises for the head, eyes, and balance to reduce the episodes and severity of the dizziness.
Medication treatments are typically the follow-up to physical therapy or the next best option if physical therapy doesn't relieve the dizziness.
Some medications generally prescribed for dizziness related to vestibular disorders include antidepressants, beta-blockers, diuretics, and calcium channel blockers.
However, common medications such as beta-blockers are known to have uncomfortable side effects on some people.
So, instead, some patients opt fornatural remedies for stress and anxiety. Some natural remedies provide the needed relief minus many of the adverse side effects of pharmaceutical medications.
Treatments for Dizziness Related to Anxiety Disorders
Treatments like psychotherapy, medication, or lifestyle changes are typically prescribed if your dizziness is directly linked to an anxiety disorder.
There are manypsychotherapy treatments that have been used successfully for many years to treat anxiety disorders that involve dizziness. Some techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and learning self-awareness and coping strategies can help reduce the symptoms.
Some of the most common medications prescribed for anxiety disorders involving dizziness are antidepressants.
Medication treatments are recommended in combination with psychotherapy to reduce anxiety over a long period.
Some people with anxiety disorders related to dizziness find relief from herbal remedies. Many herbs have been used for centuries to treat psychological disorders.
And, since many of them don't have the unwanted side effects that typical prescription medications do, they're often preferred in place of meds or in conjunction.
For example,MDcalm is a plant medicine developed by doctors that combines hemp extract, adaptogens, botanicals, and magnesium L-Threonate to relax the body and mind. It's recommended for anxiety and stress and to improve your mood, sleep hygiene, and overall health.
Remember, just like any treatment, you should talk with a medical professional before taking herbal remedies for anxiety or dizziness.
Hemp is an ancient herb with a long history in Asia and North America, where it's been cultivated for use in textiles like ropes and paper and in relaxative medicines like forrelieving stress.
MDbio's MDcalm herbal supplement is made with full-spectrum hemp oil to treat anxiety symptoms.
Scientists form the salt calledmagnesium I-threonate by combining magnesium, a naturally-produced mineral in the body, with threonic acid, which comes from vitamin C and makes the synthetic magnesium easily available to the body.
This chemical compound helps with low magnesium levels in the body to, among many things, support healthy mood changes and blood pressure levels, and to avoid anxious tendencies, uncontrolled stress responses, and too-low blood pressure and dizziness.
Magnesium I-threonate is used in MDbio's herbal supplement for anxiety, called MDcalm.
Essential oils and teas brewed withlavender have long been held to have mood-stabilizing and soothing properties. Recent scientific studies have supported these findings, although further research is needed.
MDcalm contains lavender flower extract to help establish a serene mind.
Healthy Foods for a Sense of Calm
The way we eat can drastically affect how we feel and the health of our mind and body. Like most supplements or medications, different foods settle differently in different people.
You should check in with a health care professional to find a diet plan that works well for you.
In general, some foods to include in a diet for lower stress and a sense of calm include:
- Salmon. This fish naturally carries vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids that can help improve brain function.
- Mint. Tea and other herbal infusions made from mint leaves can help to soothe anxiety and an unhappy stomach.
- Chocolate. Pure or dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, which are known to lower anxiety.
- Ferments. Fermented foods like fermented fruits, vegetables, and some drinks are known to boost your mood with their gut-friendly probiotics.
- Green tea. Green tea contains ingredients called L-Theanine and ECGC, which may reduce anxiousness and extreme stress responses.
If you're experiencing anxiety and dizziness, one of the best ways to reduce and stop the problem is to make small but noticeable changes in the way you live your life.
Some recommended lifestyle changes you can try today include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Drinking plenty of cool water
Can anxiety cause dizziness? Yes, but there are solutions.
Recurring dizziness typically breeds anxiety because it prevents the person from feeling well enough to live normally. They generally skip out on social activities and limit their physical exercise because the dizziness interrupts those activities.
When conditions like inner ear problems, hormonal imbalances, and other stressors make functioning difficult, it's more likely that symptoms of anxiety and depression, like dizziness, will be exacerbated and become a chronic problem.
Sometimes the dizziness is caused by underlying anxiety, and the two problems create a cycle that can be difficult to break out of. That's when changing your lifestyle and looking into medication and therapy can help.
One of the best and quickest ways to address dizziness related to anxiety and improve your quality of life is to get professional help, eat well, drink water, exercise, meditate, and rest.
Treating the root of the problem – be it physical, like a hormonal imbalance, or psychological, like chronic anxiety – can free you from feeling dizzy and get you back to living your quality of life.
Are you looking for plant-based remedies for anxiety and lightheadedness? Check out our MDcalm supplement today!