Anxiety Dizziness

Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Referred to by doctors as vertigo, it can feel like a spinning sensation, as if objects are actually spinning round. The dizziness can also feel like the floor is unsteady, rocking up and down like a boat.

One explanation for why anxiety and dizziness often go together is to do with the fight or flight response.  When we are anxious our bodies natural protection mechanism, the flight or flight response, tries to protect us by focusing our energy and attention on the perceived threat. It draws blood towards our core and gives less resources to unnecessary functions.

Somewhere along the line our balance mechanism in our inner ear is disrupted causing what is a harmless although unpleasant symptom.  It should be noted that dizziness can be caused by other things than anxiety, so a trip to the doctor to rule out ear infections, viruses, labyrinthitis and other physical causes is important.

Assuming it is anxiety, the best thing to do is to come to terms with it. It is harmless and passes quickly as soon as you relax. The problem is that because it feels so unpleasant we tend to assume it is more serious than it is, and this causes us to worry more and feed the fear cycle.

Also read Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?

If dizziness from anxiety is a serious problem for you then the normal anxiety medications like SSRI’s and Benzodiazepines may well help. There is also a drug called prochlorperazine (marketed as Stemetil and Buccastem) which is used to treat dizziness and associated nausea or vomiting.

Really though, drugs should be a last resort. Easier to say than do, but if you can accept anxiety symptoms they will pass, lessen and eventually disappear, and dizziness is no exception. Try taking some calming breaths and telling yourself that the dizziness you are experiencing is just an unpleasant symptom and nothing else.

Anxiety in Children

Anxiety in children is not uncommon, in fact some anxiety during childhood and adolescence is the norm rather than the exception. Children have a lot to learn and a lot to explore, and some of that can be stressful. This is part of the learning process and the growing up process and parents and caregivers shouldn’t try to completely protect a child from it, children need to learn to do that themselves. What I am talking about thus far is normal low level anxiety that arises from the everyday harshness of real life.

More of a problem is when children start to experience unreasonable anxiety. Unreasonable anxiety is hard to define, but if it is interfering with education, development or socializing then you can be pretty sure it has gone too far.  Some children can develop phobias of school or of going out alone. These insecurities may manifest as panic attacks or move in different directions like eating disorders or self-harm.

Often childhood anxiety can manifest as irritability, panic attacks, phobias, fear of being alone, difficulty sleeping, bed wetting.

The most important thing to do is to get help. Schools, doctors surgeries and health clinics should all be able to offer advice. If the school has a counseling service then that is a good place to start.

Treatment wise, children are generally not prescribed medication such as SSRI’s or Benzodiazepines unless it’s really necessary. Indeed drugs like prozac may cause psychological symptoms to worsen in children.

Luckily, children are quick learners and can respond well to therapy and counseling, and can be taught to relax.

Lastly, it is important for parents and caregivers to make sure the child feels loved and accepted. This in itself can be a big part of the solution to childhood anxiety.

Anxiety Stress

Anxiety and Stress go hand in hand. They have a symbiotic relationship meaning that they both feed off each other.

What’s the difference between anxiety and stress?

Anxiety has specific mental and physical symptoms, and is clinically identifiable. Follow this link for an explanation of anxiety symptoms. Stress on the other hand is a much more common phenomenon. Stress also much more commonly expresses itself as anger, irritation, short patience and irritability. Anxiety, on the other hand, tends to manifest itself as fear, hyperventilation, dizziness, feeling dislocated, or having stomach discomfort.

Both Anxiety and stress have been related to IBS .

If one lives constantly in a state of stress then anxiety and even an anxiety disorder are likely to follow. However this is not the case for everyone. Some people “thrive off stress” in the same way that adrenaline junkies effectively thrive off anxiety. but that does not mean that daily stress is good for you. In fact it is much better for you to be able to unwind and de-stress.  While stress might motivate you through the day and give you a buzz, when the working day is over your body needs a chance to relax.

The same tricks that help you overcome anxiety cam help you deal effectively with stress: meditation and yoga, exercise, herbal supplements and everything else mentioned on this site.

One of the main features of stress may be difficulty in getting to sleep. Insomnia can be caused by muscle tension, dwelling on the events of the day or worrying about the future or by having too many stimulants in your system.

Caffeine is an obvious candidate for removal if you want to sleep better. It can stay in your system for as long as twenty hours (although it effects different people in different ways.) Also, some people think they are unwinding from stress when they have an alcoholic drink. This is in fact not the case. Alcohol actually becomes a stimulant after it is broken down by your liver and this is one reason why many anxiety sufferers get anxiety with a hangover or even while drunk!

Xanax Anxiety

Xanax, also known by the generic name Alprazolam, has been licensed in the USA to treat anxiety and panic attacks since 1981. It is used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, panic disorder and, in some cases, depression. It is a member of a family of drugs known as Benzodiazepines. It is a mild tranquilizer.

Many people who have experienced drugs like Valium may be aware of how Benzodiazepines can make you feel doped and sleepy. Xanax is not like this for many people. In my own personal experience Xanax didn’t make me feel very different at all, just much much calmer. I didn’t get any of the side effects listed, and in an ad hoc experiment to see how my reaction times were effected I actually found my reactions to be almost exactly as good as when I wasn’t on Xanax.

Some people do suffer from side effects, sleepiness, dizziness and vertigo, nausea. But these drugs are rather well-tolerated.

In terms of dose, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. I personally worked my way up from the 0.25mg dose which is the lowest available and now take 1.5mg on an as needed basis.

Initially I took a tiny amount of one Xanax tablet to see how I tolerated it. As I was fine I took the rest. Some people who suffer from anxiety may have a psychosomatic side effect of feeling a sudden onset of anxiety or panic whenever they try something new. This can mean that at first a Benzodiazepine has a paradoxical effect. If I were you I would persevere, as for the short term relief of temporary anxiety and panic attacks this drug is very useful and very effective.

A word of caution. Like all Benzodiazepines, Xanax can be habit forming. If you take it for too long you may need to taper off slowly to avoid withdrawal effects. Also, if you take it often you may find you need to take more to get the same effect. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this.

I don’t recommend you buy from online pharmacies without prescription, you don’t know what you are getting or how safe it is, or even if it will arrive or not!

See also:

Xanax for travel anxiety.

Medication for Anxiety

There is lots of medication for anxiety available on the market. Almost all of it is only available on prescription from a doctor.

Normally, Patients presenting with anxiety are offered Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI for short). This family of medication is considered suitable if the anxiety disorder is ongoing, as SSRI’s are not suitable for short term use. They tend to take at least four weeks to start working (although some people claim to feel better in as little as two days) and aren’t thought to be fully effective until they have been taken for 6 weeks to two months. The common SSRI’s are:

Other drugs which might also be prescribed and are similar to SSRI’s are SNRI’s or Serotonin-norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors. The most commonly prescribed SNRI is Venlafaxine (Effexor). SNRI’s are newer than SSRI’s and tend to be slightly better tolerated with fewer side effects. They were designed to treat depression but are also a medication for anxiety. Likewise they are prescribed for long term use, normally six months or more and sometimes years.

Also read this post on Anxiety Medication Over The Counter.

If a medication for anxiety which is short term is needed then there are various other options. In times of extreme grief or pain, or when panic attacks are severe, a short acting anxiolytic might be used. The normal choice would be one of the Benzodiazepine family:

  • Xanax, alprazolam:
  • Lexotan, bromazepam:
  • Librium, chlordiazepoxide:
  • Klonopin, clonazepam:
  • Tranxene, clorazepate:
  • Valium, diazepam:
  • Rohypnol, flunitrazepam:
  • ProSom, estazolam:
  • Dalmane, flurazepam:
  • Paxipam, halazepam:
  • Dormonoct, loprazolam:
  • Ativan, lorazepam:
  • Versed (Hypnovel, Dormicum), midazolam:
  • Mogadon, nitrazepam:
  • Serax, oxazepam:
  • Doral, quazepam:
  • Restoril, temazepam:
  • Halcion, triazolam:

Benzodiazepines are good because they work quickly (less than an hour even) and are very good at what they do – stopping anxiety and panic. In a way they are the ultimate medication for anxiety. The problem is that if they are taken for too long they become less effective and can become addictive. Constant use for more then three weeks is rarely advised. For a personal experience of Valium click here.

Another drug that is not a Benzodiazepine is Buspirone, which is said to be as good as a Benzodiazipine for reducing anxiety but non-addictive and non-sedating. It has a better side-effect profile but can not be taken on an as needed basis. It has to be taken daily and takes two or three weeks to take effect. As it is non-addictive it is much better suited to long-term use Benzodiazepines.

Treatment for Anxiety

Choosing the best treatment for anxiety is a potential minefield. There are two many treatments out there to name ranging from the clinically proven to the wacky and bizarre.

My first piece of advice is to do some Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I am not saying that CBT cures anxiety or that it is the best treatment for anxiety. What I am saying though is that the cognitive skills learned in CBT form the back bone of positive thinking and changing thought patterns.

It the bad old days CBT was expensive and your insurance or health service would only let you have a few miserable sessions. Now CBT is much more in your control. You can read some great books on CBT which have practical exercises and seeing an expert might not be necessary at all. There is another option that has become increasingly popular and that is computerized CBT. You can use this online and it takes you through various exercises. There are many websites offering this service for free or a nominal price. Moodgym is one such.

In an article about treatments for anxiety it would be normal to talk about drugs, medication and herbs. i won’t talk about any of those because they don’t treat anxiety, they mask the symptoms.

I will however talk about nutrition. Anxiety can be causes or exacerbated by a lack of Omega 3 fats and some vitamin and mineral deficiencies. You should consider supplementing with a good quality fish oil that has a high EPA content. Also, make sure you are getting enough B vitamins.

If you have IBS your stomach may not absorb vitamins and minerals well enough. This could lead to deficiencies so a modified diet which avoids food which you can’t tolerate may help in the long term. There is certainly a link between IBS and Anxiety.

For more on drugs read Anxiety Medication Over The Counter.

Lastly you need to learn how to relax. A CBT therapist will teach you breathing and relaxation exercises but in my opinion there is nothing better for anxiety than mindfulness meditation. The simple act of becoming aware of what is around you, living in the present moment, observing thoughts without letting them become you or take you over, is the most calming thing. Like all good things it comes to those who wait, or to be more precise those who are patient and can practice mindfulness regularly.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Physical symptoms of anxiety can be mild or severe and for some people are worse than the mental symptoms. The physical symptom which worries people most is a racing heart or palpitations. Often with anxiety the heart can race to similar pulse rates as if you were running, and for many people this is the beginning of a panic attack.

As anyone who works in an Emergency Room or an Accident and Emergency department will tell you, it is very common for people to be admitted who are convinced they are having a heart attack. In fact this racing heart is just the bodies way of preparing for danger, the fight or flight response. Like all physical  symptoms of anxiety, it is harmless.

The second most common symptom of anxiety is often described as tightness in the chest. This tends to be a combination of two things: a slight narrowing of the airway caused by the increased blood flow through the veins in the neck and hyperventilation. The combined effect is a feeling that we can’t breath, but this is just a feeling. In fact our breathing is working fine, again the fight or flight response is preparing us for action. The problem is that as we feel we can’t breath so we try to breath more and end up gasping for breaths we don’t need, when in fact we want to be slowing down our breathing, and taking calming belly breaths instead of fast shallow chest breaths.

Other physical symptoms of anxiety include tingling in the limbs, which is caused by blood being diverted to the core of the body,  and a feeling of weakness which comes about for the same reason.

How do I stop the physical symptoms of anxiety?

The best way to stop anxiety symptoms is to start off the Parasympathetic Relaxation Response. This natural nervous system response to the fight or flight response is designed to calm us down after the danger has passed. As there is no real danger from an anxiety attack or a panic attack we can calm ourselves down immediately quite safely.

How do we set the relaxation response in motion? Well, there are several ways. Meditation is one and I recommend Mindfulness Meditation, which will also help you become aware of your breathing and recognize when you are hyperventilating unnecessarily. Learning to meditate takes time and commitment but will be worth it.

In the meantime, you can elicit the relaxation response by re-breathing carbon dioxide by breathing into a paper bag, or my concentrating on things at the periphery of your vision.

Remember though one important thing. the physical symptoms of anxiety are harmless!

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety can be hard to spot. Not because they are subtle and mild – often they are not – more because they can be easily confused. I have heard of one person for example whose doctor thought he had epilepsy and sent him for an EEG scan.

Anxiety symptoms can be straight forward:



Churning Stomach

Difficulty breathing

These are the ones that people often mention. But there are many other symptoms that might also indicate anxiety or extreme stress:





Upset stomach (diarrhea/constipation etc)

Feelings of unreality (feeling disassociated, disconnected or odd/ungrounded)


Playing with hands or touching ones face or forehead.

Looking around as if for an escape route.

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the range of anxiety signs and symptoms that could easily be confused with something else. Of course the reverse is also true, which is why it is imperative to have a complete medical check for other possible physical causes of these symptoms.

Some  physical disorders that cause anxiety symptoms are Thyroid problems (both over and under active thyroids), food allergies and intolerances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and IBS.

Anxiety Niacinamide

Does Niacinamide work for anxiety? Well, There are a few reasons why I think it might be worth a try. Firstly, a proper scientific study found that Niacinamide had anti-anxiety (anxiolytic) effects in animals (Tallman JF, Paul SM, Skolnick P, Gallager DW (1980).

Some  people have hypothesized that Niacinamide works on the same receptors as Benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax.

Further more, if the body does not get enough Vitamin B3 through diet, it can make it from Tryptophan. This is not good for anxiety sufferers as Tryptophan is the amino acid the body uses to make the good mood chemical Serotonin, a lack of which causes anxiety and depression. Therefore it might be the case that taking on more B3 in the form of Niacinamide lessens the necessity to divert Tryptophan away from Serotonin and therefore boosts mood and calm anxiety that way.

On top of that, B Vitamins are essential for correct brain and nervous system functioning.

Lastly, other people with anxiety that have expressed an opinion swear by Niacinamide. Not everyone of course, nothing works for everyone. But when someone else has tried something and had success it is generally worth a shot!

How much Niacinamide should I take for anxiety? That is another very good question which it is quite hard to answer. I have read conflicting advice and of course there is no decisive answer from medical circles. The Reference Daily Intake (The Recommended Daily Allowance in the UK) varies from country to country but is often around 50-20mg depending on age and gender.

Doctors that advocate Niacinamide as a treatment for anxiety recommend much much higher doses. Sometimes as high as 3000mg a day. It is thought that doses beyond that can cause liver toxicity.

In terms of dosage I would say you have to be careful. Take medical advice if you can and start on a lower dose and move up and see if you get any anti-anxiety effects. If so, why not check with your doctor that the dose is safe in their opinion, or see if they can monitor you for liver function if the dose you are using is extreme.

L-Theanine for anxiety

L-Theanine has been described by some as Nature’s Valium – a miracle natural anxiety cure. This is not a bad description, as L-Theanine increases levels of the Amino acid GABA, which works in the same way as drugs like Xanax and Valium to calm anxiety and panic.

GABA can, in some countries be bought over the counter, but it is not really known if it crosses the blood-brain barrier sufficiently to make a difference to stress levels, anxiety and panic attacks. By contrast L-Theanine does cross the blood-brain barrier and is known promote alpha wave brain state, the state in which the awake mind is at it’s best: relaxed but able to to concentrate.

Does It Work?

So does it work? My personal experience has revolved around taking the Solgar Brand although others are available. It is claimed that L-Theanine gets to work in 40 minutes, helping beat insomnia and promoting relaxation.

I must say, to me the results were very subtle. I have experienced taking Xanax and found L-Theanine to be quite different. I have also only ever taken one 100mg capsule (as per the instructions), but some people advocate taking much more, up to but not exceeding 600mg in 6 hours.

I am not sure if taking such a high dose is a good idea because like most supplements L-Theanine has not been thoroughly tested in the same way a new prescription drug would be. All in all, I would say for me the recommended dose provides some level of relaxation, but it isn’t revolutionary.

The supplement of L-theanine in capsules is expensive. Alternative sources are basically limited to tea, practically speaking. The problem with taking l-Theanine in tea form is that you have to drink a lot of tea to get enough, and there is no way of knowing how much there is in the tea, so it is much harder than getting it in supplement form where the standardized dosage is trustworthy, broadly speaking.

Another problem is that drinking tea ups the amount of caffeine in your system. Black tea has plenty of caffeine and green tea, despite what “gurus” may say, also stimulates you…in high doses both start to do the things you are taking L-Theanine to avoid. So why not get L-Theanine from decaffeinated tea? Because as luck would have it the process of decaffeination removes the L-Theanine!

Also read: Anxiety Disorder Herbal Remedies