Feeling dizzy is easily one of the most disruptive symptoms of anxiety. You find yourself feeling woozy, almost as though you need to sit down, and in some cases even sitting or lying down doesn't get rid of that dizzy feeling. For some people, the dizziness may even be accompanied by other symptoms that make you feel as though they're about to die.
Dizziness is a very common symptom of anxiety, and one that can be caused by a host of different factors. Below, we'll examine the potential causes of dizziness and how they can be cured.
Dizziness = Anxiety?
Dizziness may be the result of anxiety. It may also be the result of a serious health condition or an inner ear infection. To get an idea of whether anxiety is causing your dizziness, take the 7 minute anxiety test I developed for this website.
Causes of Dizziness
Dizziness can be a very serious symptom of other issues, like low blood pressure and even multiple-sclerosis. If it is the first time you've had dizziness - especially if the dizziness is severe - it is a good idea to contact a doctor.
But it is possible for dizziness to be caused by anxiety, especially anxiety that causes anxiety attacks. If this is your first time on the site, take the free 7 minute anxiety test I developed. It'll give you an opportunity to see what your anxiety is and how it affects you.
Assuming anxiety is causing your dizziness, there are several possible causes:
- Hyperventilation This is the most common cause. It often occurs during an anxiety or panic attack, but it can occur at any point when you have anxiety. Hyperventilation is usually the result of breathing too quickly, but it may also be due to poor breathing methods that are supplying you with too much oxygen. Hyperventilation throws off your oxygen/CO2 balance, leading to dizziness.
- Panic Panic attacks in general may also cause a feeling of dizziness due to the way they affect your body. It's not uncommon for the rush of adrenaline to make you feel light headed, and that light headedness may feel like dizziness.
- Vision In addition, anxiety can lead to vision problems. When it does, your vision may make you feel dizzy, simply because of the way your mind is interpreting your vision.
- Dehydration Dehydration can also cause dizziness. Anxiety doesn't necessarily cause dehydration, but those that have anxiety already are more likely to become anxious when dehydrated. Also, anxiety can make physical sensations feel and seem worse than they are, so mild dizziness from dehydration may feel like severe dizziness.
Anxiety dizziness tends to not last too long, although it can come and go fairly frequently in the midst of intense anxiety. If your dizziness is so strong that you cannot stand and lasts for a considerable amount of time, it's often a good idea to contact a doctor as it may be something other than anxiety.
Dizziness from Anxiety is Not Dangerous
Generally, when anxiety is causing your dizziness, there is little to be concerned about. If you're driving you may still want to make your way off the road to make sure you don't put yourself in a dangerous situation, but otherwise the dizziness does not mean something is wrong with your brain, nor will the dizziness have a long term effect on your health.
Reducing the Dizziness
Still, the dizziness can be frightening and disruptive. There's no denying that no one wants to live with dizziness, and dizziness can create a type of health anxiety that makes it harder to control future anxiety symptoms. Dizziness may also be the trigger that creates a full blown panic attack, or it may be one of the scariest symptoms that occurs during an anxiety attack.
If you're feeling dizzy right now, try the following:
- Breathe Slower and Deeper Often during anxiety attacks it feel as though you cannot get a full breath. But in truth the problem is often that you're trying to breathe too much. It's known as "overbreathing" and it occurs during rapid, shallow breaths. Slow your breathing down, and you'll be more likely to get the correct balance of air and CO2.
- Close Your Eyes If you can safely close your eyes, try keeping them closed for a while. Dizziness is, in many ways, a vision issue, because when you're dizzy it's like the room keeps spinning. With your eyes closed, you shouldn't be as affected by the dizziness, and should hopefully experience less nausea related to dizziness.
- Drink Water If you can walk fine, try drinking some water. This is important for those whose dizziness is related to dehydration, and it can also be beneficial because the cooling water has a tendency to relax the body.
- Focus on a Spot Many ballet dancers that get dizziness from spinning find that they find a bit of relief if they stare at one spot in the distance. While you may feel some dizziness around you, staring at a spot will help your eyes and mind get back under control.
You may also just have to wait it out a bit. Dizziness caused by anxiety is usually fairly temporary. There's no pill or supplement that you can take because by the time the supplement would work, the dizziness will have already gone away.
Preventing the Dizziness From Coming Back
Remember, it's possible for dizziness to be the result of anxiety, and it's also possible for dizziness to cause anxiety. If your doctor has ruled out any health problems, then the next thing to do is control your anxiety, because only then can you ensure that the dizziness won't come back.
First, make sure that you're practicing your breathing. Re-train your body to breathe correctly so that you have fewer hyperventilation episodes. Remember, when you suffer from some anxiety conditions, you can hyperventilate even without anxiety.
Next, make sure that you're eating healthy, drinking water, exercising, etc. Once again - anxiety can cause dizziness that can cause anxiety, in one vicious circle. To prevent both anxiety and dizziness, you need to treat your body as healthy as possible. Only then can you prevent random bouts of dizziness that may cause more health anxiety.
Finally, take up an anti-anxiety routine. There are many different ways to control anxiety symptoms. You'll need to start by finding out what type of anxiety you're suffering from, and once you do you can find a specific anxiety management option that will prevent your anxiety once and for all.
I've helped thousands of people control their anxiety in the past, and trust me when I tell you that you can't get treatment until you've nailed your anxiety down. Take my 7 minute anxiety test now.
It's free and you'll have an opportunity to see how your anxiety affects you and a recommendation for what you can do next.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.