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.

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!