Dizziness and Anxiety

Most patients with dizziness tend to show symptoms of stress. For some patients, dizziness and vertigo can trigger clinically diagnosable anxiety symptoms.

We often think of dizziness or vertigo causing anxiety, due to the stress.

Yet some people can experience anxiety-related dizziness. So in that case, the anxiety is contributing to the dizziness.

In this article, we talk about how some people suffer from anxiety-related dizziness.

Which Came First?

This co-occurrence of dizziness and anxiety is similar to the timeless chicken & egg debate in orthopedics regarding falls and hip fractures.

Regarding the Hip Fracture and Fall

Did the hip fracture cause the fall?

Or did the fall cause the hip fracture?

We may never know.

Related to Dizziness and Anxiety

Is the dizziness causing the anxiety?

Or is the anxiety causing the dizziness?

Sometimes, the anxiety causes dizziness and in other cases, the dizziness causes anxiety.

We may never know which one came first.

Regardless, if they are both present, they are likely escalating each other!

So they both need to be addressed.

In all cases, the presence of both anxiety and dizziness can perpetuate each other and limit the final level of recovery in vestibular physical therapy.

Dizziness is a symptom of anxiety for some people.

Dizziness may be caused by anxiety. It may be related to an episode of hyperventilation.

Dizziness can be a symptom of a panic attack or simply triggered by some preceding thought or anxiety-producing event, such as fear of falling.

Dizziness from hyperventilation is usually accompanied by upper chest breathing and tingling in the hands and feet, and may commonly present with tension in the neck. This is called “anxiety-related dizziness.”

For example, a patient may describe “Every time I get off the phone with my son (who is in drug rehab), I feel dizzy for about twenty minutes” or “Every time I am about to leave my house, I get dizzy.”

Anxiety-related dizziness may interfere with central processes and limit the final level of functional recovery in vestibular patients.

To relieve symptoms of anxiety, skilled physical therapy can address neck tension, breathing, visualization, stress management, and relaxation techniques.

PTs can help reduce anxiety with practice of functional tasks that are anxiety-producing for patients, with physical therapist supervision.

If you are suffering with dizziness and anxiety together, I suggest that you address them both with a comprehensive treatment plan that includes vestibular physical therapy and mental health counseling.

Some patients also benefit from anti-anxiety medication while they participate in mental health counseling and vestibular physical therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) have been shown to help with vestibular PT outcomes for dizzy patients who also have anxiety.

This multifaceted approach can help interrupt the cycle of your anxiety and dizziness triggering each other.

If you want to learn more about anxiety related dizziness, click here.


This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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