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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!