Dizziness and anxiety: 11 ways to to fight this common symptom

Until recently, I never knew you could get dizziness from anxiety.

Not being a doctor, I always just thought, you sometimes just got dizzy for random reasons.  Like standing up too fast.  Which is true.  

But did you know you can get dizziness just from being anxious?

Many people do not know this but I suffered from severe dizzy spells as a teen.  To the point where I was having 6-7 episodes a day, and nearly blacking out.

They did a ton of tests, and ended up tentatively diagnosing me with epilepsy.  But I’ve never been totally satisfied with that.  I guess I have a habit of questioning diagnoses.

I was a very emotionally turbulent teenager.  What if it was simply anxiety?  Maybe I’ll never know, but it’s worth sharing.

dizziness and anxiety

Things like this are what inspired me to do this series about the physical symptoms of depression and anxiety.  Approximately 40 million people suffer from anxiety every year, but many of them might not have a full understanding of all the things their illness could be doing to them.

Check out the previous posts in the series here:

11 Physical Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Can Depression Can Fatigue?

Can Depression Cause Physical Pain?

Eye Health and Depression

Here is the next one to look out for:

Anxiety and Irritability

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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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Why can anxiety cause dizziness?

According to Laura O. Morris, P.T., N.C.S., “The vestibular system is responsible for sensing body position and movement in our surroundings. The vestibular system is made up of an inner ear on each side, specific areas of the brain, and the nerves that connect them. This system is responsible for the sense of dizziness when things go wrong. Scientists believe that the areas in the brain responsible for dizziness interact with the areas responsible for anxiety, and cause both symptoms.”

So, basically, the spots in your brain that make you dizzy, and the ones the make you anxious, are close pals.

It can be helpful to remember that a lot of symptoms of anxiety have these biological roots.  In my opinion, that makes them a little less scary, if you take the mystery away.

Now that you know why anxiety causes dizziness, let’s talk about some solutions you can implement for getting relief from both issues.

How to ease dizziness

Dizziness can be scary especially if you don’t understand why it’s happening.  If you are experiencing regular dizziness, you should consult your doctor.  In the meantime, there are some things you can try.

Medical News Today recommends the following tips for easing your dizziness:

Lie down and close your eyes

I think this is a great tip for anxiety in general, even if you don’t experience dizziness.  First, find a dark quiet spot to lie down.  Take a deep breath then close your eyes.  Try a simple grounding exercise to help center you.  Since your eyes are closed and you can’t see anything, stick to the other senses for this activity. 

Grounding exercises are pretty simple, and don’t take much effort.  Taking sight out of the mix, engage with the rest of your senses, and name:

  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Try acupuncture

I have never personally tried acupuncture, but it is an old practice, and it gives many people relief from a variety of conditions.  Some use it for anxiety, pain issues, and vertigo.  It might be a little woo-woo, but it’s worth a shot.  You might even find your insurance covers it, if it’s for a pre-existing condition that you’ve spent time in treatment for.  Just remember to get a pre-authorization from your insurance network.

Drink plenty of water

This is just a good practice in general.  Most experts say you need to drink at least 64 ounces a day, and more if you’re active.  Some say the amount of ounces you need is equal to half of your body weight.  (Ex., If you are 160lbs, then 80oz would be your baselines, factoring in more if you get a lot of physical activity.)

I find the water bottles with time markers on the side really help.  You can get one for pretty cheap on Amazon, and they are pretty good motivators.

Reduce your stress levels

It is important for all people to keep their stress to a minimum.  Stress has really bad effects on your body, including affecting your immune system.  Make it a priority to get 15 minutes of self care a day, at the very least.  The more you can get the better.

Unsure what kind of activities you can try?  Check out my thoughts on what self care really is and try the self care ideas below.

Download this free PDF here

Getting plenty of sleep

Did you ever notice that when you get a poor night’s sleep, everything seems off the next day?  Your moods, your stomach, your equilibrium….

Good sleep is a handy dandy little bandaid you can put on a lot of things.  To ensure you get a good night’s sleep, try the following tips:

  • Unplugging from social media at least an hour before bed.
  • Don’t have any caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Be more active during the day.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Try asking your PCP for medication recommendations.

See a therapist

If your dizziness is caused by anxiety, you could try seeing a therapist.  By regular therapy sessions to treat the anxiety itself, you might see an improvement in the physical symptoms.

If therapy is out of your budget right now, grab a journal, and start writing!  This is another great activity you can do before bedtime to clear your mind, and practice some mindfulness.

journal, anxiety and dizziness
Click here to start journaling!

When does it become a serious problem?

Again, I am not a doctor.  I can only share information that I’ve gathered online.  If you are in a situation where you think your dizziness is a problem, make an appointment with your PCP or psychiatrist.  They may want you to undergo tests.

In the meantime, here are some warning signs that Medical News Today says to be aware of:

  • Persistent or severe headaches or migraines
  • Falling over regularly or a struggle when walking
  • Frequent or ongoing vomiting and nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath or a struggle breathing
  • Any head injury
  • A severely stiff neck
  • Seizures

Keep track of anything out of the ordinary, so you don’t forget to mention it at the doctor’s appointment you schedule.

My top 5 anxiety busting strategies

There are lots of things I have tried over the years to manage my anxiety. Some of it has worked, and some ideas have been total duds. Here are my top 5 favorite anxiety busting strategies.

Exercise

Breaking a sweat regularly is super important for not just your physical health but your mental health as well. It released endorphins and dopamine, two feel good chemicals that your brain relies on to be happy. When you live with anxiety and depression, your brain can’t always do this on its own.

I know it can be hard to get back into the swing of things after a season of not being active. Just take things slow, and make sure to set a goal! Setting goals, especially if you write them down, is such a powerful way to make them stick in your head.

You don’t have to go out and train for a full marathon. Start by walking around the block 3 times a week. If you have issues with mobility, ask your doctor for their recommendations.

Unplug from social media

This isn’t always easy, but it has been very beneficial for my anxiety. I love social media as much as the next person, but I was starting to find that more time I spent on Facebook, Instagram, etc, the more anxious I was.

Why is that? Well, social media is filled with tragic headlines, polarizing political articles, and a whole ton of people who are richer and more attractive than you. All of that combined is a not so delicious anxiety cocktail.

At least on hour before bed, plug in your phone across the room, and don’t check any social media apps until you wake up.

Read a book

Reading is way more than a form of entertainment. It actually has a lot of amazing mental health benefits. One of them is that it teaches your brain to be more resilient.

For example, the more you read about Harry Potter’s struggles with dark wizards, final exams, and teenage hormones- and read about how he succeeds- your brain learns right along with him. It learns to be more adaptable to life’s ups and downs.

dizziness and anxiety, dizzy person, anxiety symptoms, how to manage dizziness

Journal

As I mentioned above, journaling is a really cost-effective way to wrestle with your negative emotions. For the cost of a few lattes, you can grab a nice looking journal from Amazon. Then, set a reminder on your phone to spend 5 minutes at the end of the day jotting down something.

If you aren’t sure what to write, here are some ideas:

  • Write 3 things that went well that day
  • Come up with an intention that you want to set for the following day
  • Brainstorm some ways that tomorrow could be better
  • Write 5 things you like about yourself

Positive thinking

Before you all started flooding my inbox with hate mail, I want to be clear about something. Positive thinking does not make you not have anxiety anymore. Full stop. So, calm down, Karen.

BUT, positive thinking can be an effective tool for symptom management. Our thoughts affect our feelings with affect our actions. So the more positively you can think, the better. Even if it is just a small amount of progress.

Check out my recent video I made, and leave me a comment!

It can be common to have a little dizziness with anxiety.

If this is something you live with, try not to worry. That can lead to more anxiety, which in turn can make the dizziness worse. Just take a deep breath and try one of the strategies above. There is something for everyone on that list. So, if the one you try doesn’t work, just pick another one. Anxiety is not one size fits all, and it’s definitely not one solution fits all.

Do you live with anxiety? Let me know how you cope in the comments, and make sure to share this post on social media!

If you live with dizziness from anxiety, you are not alone.


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Related articles for anxiety management:

How to get fit: 5 tips for exercise when it is the last thing on your mind

Reading and mental health: 5 amazing benefits

Tips for Anxiety: 9 Simple Ways to Find Hope in a Mental Health Crisis

Health Anxiety: What it is and what you can do

44 thoughts on “Dizziness and anxiety: 11 ways to to fight this common symptom”

  1. Positive thinking is so important when you are talking about feeling better. Yes, it helps a lot and sometimes is the key. I’ve learnt a lot about dizziness and anxiety from your post. Thanks!

  2. It is good for you to share. Maybe someone with a teen going through anxiety will recognize something in this… helping others always matters.

  3. I had no idea, that anxiety can cause dizziness. My mom recently hit menopause and it causes her a lot of anxiety. Acupuncture is an instant remedy to that. I’ll share this post with my mom. Thank you for writing this post!

    1. No problem! I’ve heard menopause is the worst. I hope it helps. Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

  4. I didn’t realize that dizziness is sometimes associated with anxiety. That must make life even more difficult when it happens! I use those same grounding exercises when I feel anxious and it is surprising how well they work!

  5. I didn’t know that anxiety causes dizziness either. I had a few episodes of anxiety and I tried to keep myself busy with hobbies or something else. From what I know anxiety goes hand in hand with depression. All the advice that you shared here pretty much can be applied for depression if I’m not wrong.

    1. Yeah a lot of it can be similar. I think it’s pretty common for people to have both. I do! Thanks for reading!

  6. I didn’t even make this connection before! I’m always dizzy and lightheaded yet my iron and all that is good. Guess it was anxiety! Thanks so much for teaching me something new!

  7. Oh, I love this, mainly because I went through something exactly like this, though not as severe as your anxiety sounded. I love that you have put this out there to give others a hand up.

    I had trouble concentrating and, even sitting down, weird waves of dizziness would wash over me. It was different from dizziness that comes after spinning around, though.

    Figuring out what was causing me so much stress helped me learn to write out my emotions and work through my thoughts, and I have been pretty happy since. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. I have been diagnosed with Neurocardiogenic Syncope. The underlying cause is still unknown after a year of testing but reducing my anxiety did reduce the number of dizzy spells I was having by about a third. There is absolutely a connection with the autonomic system!

      1. I was tested for that, but then my EKG came back normal so they were still confused. That’s good that at least yours have gotten better. Now I maybe have one once a year? When I was a teen it was 6 or 7 times a day. Thanks for reading!

    1. Aww thanks. I’m sorry you’re in a dark place, but glad my writing is helpful. Thanks so much for reading!

  8. This was super helpful and I totally agree with the powerpuff benefits of using a journal. I started journaling through morning pages and have been loving the process deeply.

    1. I’ve been doing it a few times a week, and it definitely helps clear my head. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  9. I love these tips! I had heard about the ‘4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste’ idea once, but I forgot about it. But it does work really well, so I’ll definitely try it next time again! Thank you for reminding me!

  10. This is really fascinating! I had no idea anxiety could cause dizziness. The other day I was standing on top of a step stool. I was really stressed at the time, and I remember feeling suddenly very very dizzy. I got down immediately and was fine, but I was really surprised and worried. I wonder if it was because of the stress. Thank you, this is really good to know. PS – I’m not much into woo-woo stuff, but I do really like acupuncture. It’s such an odd, but wonderful experience? I highly recommend.

    1. I’ve never had it but would be willing to try. I’m fairly woo-woo lol. So might be right up my alley. I hope you’re feeling better now. Thanks for reading!

  11. I had no idea this could be something that manifests with anxiety. I do experience dizziness sometimes {not fun} but I usually blame it on menopause {which is an absolute hoot, BTW}. Thank you for sharing your experiences. ❤

    1. Oh I’ve heard menopause is super fun! LOL. I’ll be there in like 10-15 years so yayyyyy. No problem, and thanks for reading!

      1. I learned a lot about how depression and dizziness are related. It makes me wonder how many of my students are suffering from issues like that and makes me want to be more informed, so I can assist them.

        1. I’m so glad you found it helpful. I’m sure a lot of young people are seeing a rise in anxiety, so every little bit of knowledge helps! Thanks for reading!

  12. I do sometimes get some dizziness when I have high anxiety, it’s usually quite mild thankfully as I hate it. I go for a lay down and wait for it to pass.

  13. This is so interesting! I have suffered with major dizzy spells since I was a teenager (maybe even before then). No doctor has ever given me an answer as to why, but I guess it could have been anxiety?

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