Dizziness due to anxiety: how it appears and how to fight it

Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders or disorders in the world. In fact, it is so common that most of us will probably have noticed or never noticed anxiety about an event or daily stress, and it is also not uncommon to have experienced a crisis. ‘anxiety. .

It’s no surprise that when we are anxious we notice bowel discomfort, generalized discomfort, tachycardia, or hyperventilation, which are physical symptoms of our high level of anxiety. Another symptom that can occur is dizziness. Although they can appear for many reasons, sometimes they do when faced with a high level of stress and anxiety. In other words, that is to say dizziness with anxiety, which we will talk about throughout this article.

    Dizziness and anxiety: two basic concepts

    Before analyzing why we can become dizzy with anxiety and in order to contextualize the situation, we will briefly review what vertigo involves and what we call anxiety.

    What is vertigo?

    We call this sudden feeling of vertigo vertigo, stuffing and narrowing of consciousness which can occur in various situations and which is accompanied by a feeling of discomfort, muscle hypotonia and the appearance of blurred vision or tunneling. Sometimes dizziness can lead to fainting or loss of consciousness, and although it is usually sudden, sometimes we may notice a slight feeling of mental laziness, general malaise and / or previous restlessness.

    There are many reasons why we can become dizzy, such as dehydration, hypoglycemia, or certain illnesses of varying severity, but it is also possible to find with some frequency that the experience of continuous stress, d extreme moods or anxiety can drive them. .


      As far as anxiety is concerned, we regard it as such a generalized and diffuse state of discomfort which occurs in response to the anticipation of possible harm or danger that may arise in the future, although no directly dangerous stimulation exists at the time of its onset. A mental and physiological state is generated characterized by a high level of negative affect and a high physiological activation.

      Anxiety is characterized by cognitive, physiological and behavioral components, Generate responses at each of these levels.

      On a cognitive level, it affects the way we see the situations and emotions that awaken us. At a behavioral level, it affects what we do or don’t do to avoid anxiety with behavioral responses such as attempts to avoid or escape feared situations. And finally, at the level of physiological activation the body reacts to anxiety in different ways, such as by generating the presence of cardiac and respiratory acceleration or with the symptom which is at the origin of this article: vertigo.

      The presence of anxiety can arise in the face of a wide variety of phenomena, generally being caused by the presence of traumatic or stressful situations over which we have no control or the existence of excessive environmental requirements for the resources we consider. It is usually the consequence of a certain type of stress that generates a strong activation, in which there may be some kind of vulnerability at the biological level.

      A very similar concept would be that of anxiety, although there is a small difference: anxiety generally refers more to the physical reaction while when we talk about anxiety we usually talk more about cognitive aspects. and emotional.

      How does anxious dizziness appear?

      As we have seen, one of the possible effects of anxiety at the physiological level is the appearance of dizziness. When this happens, we find that the experience of a negative emotion, usually very high stress that continues over time with fear, generates an activation of the nervous system in a way that affects the sympathetic nervous system.

      An activation occurs that initially generates a strong feeling of muscle tension in response to a possible attack or when we need to defend ourselves. Respiration and heart rate also increase, which brings in much more oxygen much faster in order to generate energy. But if the stressor is not reduced and stays in place, our reserves eventually run out and the body is unable to stay tense all the time, so loss of muscle tone, discomfort and dizziness can occur. occur.

      Among other aspects, hyperventilation, in which our breathing is accelerated and shallow, this makes the oxygen levels that reach us not optimal, Which promotes dizziness and vertigo.

      In addition, the level of muscle tension generates a significant energy expenditure which can lead to an overload of the system. In addition, the presence of tachycardias and high blood pressure will cause dizziness when it decreases as it cannot maintain this level forever.

      Dizziness due to anxiety, although irritating, is not life threatening. However, it is advisable to consider and discard if they can be the product of another type of assignment, Especially if nothing has happened recently that generates continued nervousness on our part.

      At the neuronal level, these vertigo are explained by activation of the nuclei of the vestibular system (Which works with information about posture and body balance and is related to dizziness) and its connection to the limbic system (which works with emotional information, among other things, such as the perception of fear and anxiety) . It is precisely in the parabrachial nucleus that the two systems converge, it is one of the main points that make us dizzy when we are nervous and anxious.

      Different neurotransmitters, such as cortisol or histamine, are also involved in this disorder.

      How can we avoid them?

      The fact that the cause of this type of vertigo is the presence of anxiety means that we can find a logical way to avoid it: reduce or learn to manage our levels of stress and anxiety in a way that does not cause ourselves to suffer. symptoms. somatic like dizziness.

      Some of the simplest and most basic, and at the same time useful, methodologies are the use of relaxation techniques. Among them stand out the use of breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, Or the use of techniques that combine this with tension and relaxation of muscle groups, like Jacobson’s progressive muscle relaxation.

      Another remarkable aspect is to work with anxiety-generating beliefs and thoughts, if necessary by modifying and offering alternative interpretations of events with cognitive restructuring techniques. Decastrophicizing or putting yourself in a worst-case scenario to assess the real threat of concerns can also be helpful.

      In addition, it can also be useful to work at a physiological level with techniques such as biofeedback, in order to learn to assess the condition and better manage our basic physiological processes (especially breathing, cardiac activity) or muscle activity).

      finally it is important to stress the importance of keeping the body hydrated and well nourished, In addition to resting properly, so that our physical condition makes it difficult to dizziness.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Balaban, CD and Thayer, JF (2001). Neurological basis of balance and anxiety links. J Anxiety disorder, 15 (1-2), p. 53-79.
      • Daughter, HL (2010). Relationship between anxiety disorders and inner ear disorders. Rev.Fac.Med. 58 (1): 60-70.
      • Furman, JM, Balaban CD and Jacob, RG (2001) Interphase between vestibular dysfunction and anxiety: more than just psychogenicity. Otol Neurotol., 22 (3): p. 426-7.
      • Morris, EL (2010). Dizziness due to anxiety. American Physiotherapy Association, Neurology Section.
      • Saman, Y. and. At. (2012) Interactions between stress and vestibular compensation: a review. Frontal neurol; 3: 116.

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