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Anxiety and dizziness – why does it happen?

If you experience both anxiety and dizziness, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • Dizziness can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder
  • Dizziness can trigger, cause or exacerbate anxiety disorders
  • Anxiety and dizziness can occur at the same time, but for different reasons

Within this blog, we will look closely at the different relationships that can exist between anxiety and dizziness. We will also provide information on the support and treatment available at Priory Group for people experiencing anxiety disorders.

It is important to note that if you are experiencing anxiety and dizziness, your dizziness could be a symptom of a physical health condition, so it is always recommended that you seek medical advice to determine its cause.

Dizziness can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorders typically cause you to experience dizziness for the following reasons:

  • Your breathing changes – when you feel anxious, you typically start to take in quick, deep breaths. This reduces the levels of carbon dioxide in your blood, which can cause dizziness as well as light-headedness, nausea and tingling in your hands and/or feet
  • Your fight or flight instinct kicks in – your fight or flight instinct is often triggered when you feel anxious, as your body prepares for the dangers that you believe are ahead of you. This can lead to a rush of adrenaline, leaving you feeling dizzy and/or lightheaded

For some people, their anxiety and dizziness can intensify to the point that they experience panic attacks.

You may have found that your anxiety and dizziness increase when you’re in scenarios that you fear such as in crowds or on public transport. Your dizziness may also be accompanied by other symptoms of anxiety, including fearfulness, racing thoughts, an increased heart rate and an inability to concentrate.

Dizziness can trigger, cause or exacerbate anxiety disorders

If you experience dizziness regularly, or do so because of a health condition such as low blood pressure, anaemia or a vestibular disorder such as paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis (also known as balance disorders), you may have started to feel anxious for one of the following reasons:

  • You are worried about falling or hurting yourself because of your health condition
  • You are anxious about drawing attention to yourself by falling or fainting
  • You are concerned about your health and what is happening to your body

If you haven’t received medical support for your dizziness, it is highly recommended that you do so. With the right treatment from your doctor, you can start to better manage your dizziness, reduce your symptoms and stop it from having such a big impact on your life.

When it comes to your anxiety, remember that you can seek medical support for your mental health as well as your physical health. Speak to the healthcare provider treating your dizziness about your anxiety too, so that they can determine the best way forward.

You may also want to seek advice and treatment from a mental health specialist, such as Priory Group, so that you can start to put steps in place to manage your anxiety and improve how you feel overall.

Anxiety and dizziness can be experienced at the same time for completely different reasons

A person can experience both anxiety and dizziness at the same time, without them being related in any way.

If you experience both and are uncertain of the reasons behind them, it is important to reach out to your healthcare provider. They will be able to look at your symptoms, support you with any necessary diagnoses and refer you for any specialist treatment that is needed. This may include accessing both physical and mental health support.

Anxiety disorder treatment available at Priory Group

Here at Priory Group, we are able to provide you with the treatment that you need to start managing your anxiety and leading a better quality of life.

Following a no-obligations assessment, one of our consultant psychiatrists will be able to determine the most effective form of treatment for you to receive here at Priory Group. Our anxiety treatment is typically provided in the following ways:

  • Outpatient therapy sessions – you attend weekly therapy sessions and work with your therapist to address the causes of your anxiety and develop coping strategies for your life going forward
  • Day and half-day therapy programmes – you spend days or half-days at one of our hospitals or wellbeing centres, where you work through a programme which may include one-to-one and group therapy, alongside wellbeing sessions such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga
  • Residential treatment programmes – your consultant psychiatrist may recommend a residential stay if they believe you need more time, space and structure to help you to start feeling better. This provides you with access to 24-hour care and support, alongside a programme including both therapy and wellbeing sessions
  • Prescribed medication - your consultant psychiatrist may also recommend and prescribe medication, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). If medication is needed, this will typically be prescribed alongside one of the therapeutic programmes mentioned above

Blog reviewed by Dr Ian Nnatu (MB BS, PG DIP (CBT), MSc, FRCPsych, MRCPsych) Consultant Adult Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London

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