It is normal to feel anxious from time to time. When you experience anxiety, your body reacts in a variety of ways. But, does anxiety cause dizziness?
One of the most common physical reactions to anxiety is dizziness. Because these two symptoms are so closely related, it’s easy to assume that one causes the other. In fact, many people who suffer from anxiety think that experiencing dizziness is a sign that they have an anxiety disorder. If you have ever felt lightheaded or dizzy after being anxious, you may worry that this is a sign of something more serious than general stress and worry.
But rest assured — dizziness caused by anxiety isn’t uncommon and doesn’t mean you have anything to be scared of! Anxiety can actually be beneficial in small doses, as it triggers the body to respond quickly in a crisis situation and activates the fight or flight response.
With the help of our experts below, we’ll explore what anxiety can do to your equilibrium and how dizziness as a result of fear can be managed.
Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?
Dizziness can be caused by both acute and chronic anxiety. The anxiety-induced dizziness can be described as a sense of lightheadedness or wooziness but people may experience a feeling of motion or spinning inside the brain. This can be because of the short breaths (that lead to reduced carbon dioxide in the blood/ hyperventilation) that emanate from anxiety, vasovagal syncope, subjective sensations, and also because it creates a negative feedback loop.
When you experience anxiety, your body’s fight-or-flight instinct is triggered. This primal response prepares your body for potential dangers by releasing adrenaline into your system. This rush of adrenaline can have various physiological effects, including increasing heart rate, dilating pupils, and redirecting blood flow to muscles.
In some cases, it can lead to a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness. This type of dizziness is often described as a sense of wooziness or a feeling of motion or spinning inside your head, even when the external environment is stable.
It’s typically a temporary sensation that lasts for one or two hours during acute anxiety episodes. However, in cases of chronic worry or stress, dizziness can persist for more extended periods, as long as the body remains highly stressed, even after the initial anxiety-triggering event has passed.
How Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?
When you are anxious, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This means that your body releases adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones that prepare you for stressful events, like a job interview or a test. Unfortunately, these hormones can also make you feel dizzy.
Because your body is already in a heightened state of anxiety, additional anxiety can make you feel even more lightheaded or dizzy. For example, if you have a phobia of heights and are already feeling nervous about seeing a tall building, you may feel even more lightheaded if you’re feeling anxious about the height of the building.
If you experience anxiety-induced dizziness, it’s often in response to blood flow to the head. When your blood pressure spikes, your heart pumps blood to your brain and head more quickly.
This can cause your blood to rush to these areas so quickly that insufficient amounts reach your lower body. This can result in lightheadedness or dizziness in some people. Dizziness can also result from blood flow issues in the brain. If your blood isn’t going to the right areas in your brain, the rest sinks and can result in dizziness.
When you experience an extreme or sudden feeling of anxiety, your body goes into a “fight or flight” response. This means that your brain senses danger, so it triggers the release of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline.
These hormones prepare your body for action by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to your muscles. In addition, these hormones cause muscle tension and the urge to flee (or run away).
Because all of these reactions happen when you experience anxiety, it’s easy to see how dizziness could occur as a symptom. First, adrenaline and cortisol cause your blood pressure to increase, which can cause your head to spin.
This is why many people experience lightheadedness when they stand up too quickly — their blood pressure drops too quickly. When you’re anxious, this blood pressure change can happen quickly, which is why many people experience sudden dizziness when they are anxious.
Dizziness in acute and chronic anxiety
Dizziness can be present in both acute and chronic anxiety. In fact, it’s a common symptom of both. Dizziness can be a side effect of anxiety in both acute and chronic anxiety. Acute anxiety is a short-term state of being anxious.
If you’re having a panic attack or you’re extremely stressed out, it can cause dizziness. If you’re experiencing chronic anxiety, you may experience dizziness from time to time.
While both types of anxiety can cause dizziness, the type of dizziness you experience depends on the other symptoms you’re experiencing.
Dizziness as a Physical Reaction to Anxiety
Anxiety can cause physical reactions in your body as well as dizziness. Anxiety can cause your blood pressure to rise, resulting in headaches and general discomfort. It can also make your palms sweaty, make your hands shake, or make it hard to breathe.
These symptoms can result in dizziness. If you have trouble breathing, your heart may start to beat faster to make up the difference. This can cause blood to rush to your head, making you feel dizzy.
If you have anxiety, you may notice that you have an increased heart rate. You may also notice that you have trouble breathing. If so, you may feel dizzy as a result.
Dizziness as a Symptom of Panic Attack
If you have a panic attack, you may experience dizziness as well. A panic attack occurs when your body is in fight or flight mode for an extended period of time. A panic attack can result in shortness of breath, dizziness, and more.
Dizziness is a very common symptom present in many anxiety disorders, but it may also be a symptom of a panic attack. If you experience dizziness during a panic attack, you may be experiencing anxiety-induced dizziness.
If you are experiencing dizziness during a panic attack, you can try to breathe deeply to calm your body down. You can also try to distract yourself from the dizziness by reading or watching TV until the dizziness passes.
As we mentioned above, anxiety can trigger dizziness, which is also a symptom of inner ear disorders. If you have a serious medical condition or a disease that affects your inner ear, dizziness can be a sign of that condition.
Dizziness is a symptom of Meniere’s disease, which is caused by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear. This disorder causes recurrent attacks of vertigo (a sensation of spinning), hearing loss, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and a ringing sound in the ear (known as tinnitus).
Vestibular migraine is also an inner ear disorder that can cause dizziness. This condition causes recurrent attacks of vertigo and headaches that are triggered by changes in the weather.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a disorder that causes the sudden onset of vertigo or dizziness. This disorder occurs when calcium crystals build up in the semicircular canals inside the inner ear. These crystals cause the canals to become misaligned, leading to dizziness.
BPPV usually affects people who are older than 50 years or have a history of ear infections. It can also be triggered by a sudden change in position, such as bending over or lying down.
BPPV can be treated with exercises that reposition the crystals in the canals, medication, or treatments such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and balance exercises.
We’ve talked a lot about anxiety causing dizziness, but what about the other way around? In some cases, dizziness can cause anxiety. This is more common in people who have a hearing impairment and experience a constant state of dizziness.
Dizziness can cause anxiety because a person may feel like they can’t function normally.
When this happens, a person may avoid social activities or other events that require him or her to be in a situation with noise and a lot of people. This avoidance can lead to social isolation and feelings of loneliness and anxiety.
The vestibular system’s role in dizziness
The vestibular system is a network of nerves and fluid-filled structures in the inner ear that controls balance and spatial orientation. When these systems are out of balance, it can cause you to feel dizzy and unsteady.
The most common causes of dizziness are inner ear infections, motion sickness, Benign positional vertigo (BPPV), vestibular migraine, and Meniere’s disease.
Dizziness can be triggered by anxiety, but it’s also common for people with anxiety to experience dizziness. In some cases, anxiety-related dizziness may be due to over-activation of the vestibular system.
Anxiety can trigger the nervous system to go into overdrive, which might cause your body to feel as though it’s spinning out of control.
How long does dizziness from anxiety last?
The duration of dizziness caused by anxiety can vary widely from person to person and even from one episode to another. In most cases, anxiety-induced dizziness is temporary and short-lived. It typically lasts for a relatively short period, often ranging from a few minutes to a couple of hours during acute anxiety episodes. This type of dizziness tends to subside as the body’s stress response diminishes and the adrenaline levels return to normal.
However, for individuals dealing with chronic anxiety or prolonged periods of stress, dizziness can persist for more extended periods. In such cases, it may last for several hours, a day, or even longer, depending on the individual’s stress levels and the effectiveness of their coping mechanisms.
It’s important to note that if you experience frequent or prolonged episodes of dizziness related to anxiety, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional or mental health therapist. They can provide a more personalized assessment and recommend appropriate strategies or treatments to manage your anxiety and reduce the occurrence of dizziness.
Can anxiety cause dizziness all day?
If you experience anxiety-related dizziness and it lasts all day, you may want to speak with a doctor. There are many things that can cause dizziness that last all day, including a serious medical condition.
Anxiety-related dizziness that lasts all day can be caused by hyperventilation and stress hormones. Hyperventilation causes the body to breathe too quickly and deeply, which can throw off the body’s normal carbon dioxide and oxygen levels.
If you’re experiencing anxiety-related dizziness all day, it’s important not to ignore it. You can treat anxiety-related dizziness by controlling your breathing and learning relaxation techniques. You should also see your doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.
Dizziness as a Side Effect of Anxiety Medication
Dizziness when taking anxiety medication is common with tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as compared to the other antidepressants.
Some people experience dizziness as a side effect of anxiety medication for anxiety disorders or panic attacks. If you’re noticing dizziness as a side effect of your medication, talk to your doctor about changing the dosage or trying a different medication.
However, when taking anxiety medication, use caution and take your time when getting up from a seated or lying position and also moving slowly. The slow rising from the position enables a smooth flow of blood to the brain and reduces the feeling of being lightheaded. This ensures that you do not get dizzy and fall (fainting can occur).
Moreover, the abrupt withdrawal of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) can lead to dizziness.
Can anxiety cause fainting?
Some people faint in reaction to an emotional trigger which can be a result of hyperventilation. Fainting is one of the symptoms of anxiety disorder, where you may experience a sudden blackout.
Sudden noticeable changes in blood pressure where a sudden and significant drop in blood pressure can lead to fainting. This is because the drop in blood pressure reduces blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Some people faint when shocked when they see blood or an extremely sick person. Others can faint when they have extreme excitement, anxiety, or fear. The fainting may be a result of dizziness or other causes.
It is highly unlikely that you will faint due to a panic attack. This is because it increases blood pressure instead of lowering it. However, the dizziness associated with panic attacks can lead to fainting.
If you faint just once in a while due to anxiety, there is nothing to worry about. However, if you lose consciousness frequently or you have any other symptoms, then we recommend seeing a doctor.
When to see a doctor
If you experience anxiety-related dizziness that lasts longer than 15 minutes or is severe, you should see your doctor. This can help you rule out any serious medical conditions that could be causing your dizziness.
If you experience anxiety-related dizziness, don’t let it scare you. Anxiety-related dizziness is normal, and it doesn’t mean that you have a serious medical condition.
It’s important not to let anxiety-induced dizziness cause you to avoid life. Dizziness can be scary, but there are things you can do to manage it.
3 Breath Practices to Stop Anxiety-Induced Dizziness
If you are experiencing anxiety-induced dizziness, you can try a few breathing exercises that may help stop the dizziness. Deep Breathing: This is a simple exercise that can help calm your body down.
To do this exercise, sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Take a few moments to clear your mind before beginning. Once you feel ready, begin to breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold in your breath for a few seconds before slowly letting it out through your mouth. Repeat this a few times until you feel calmer.
Breathing Awareness: This exercise is similar to deep breathing but may be even more effective. To do this exercise, sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Take a few moments to clear your mind before beginning. Once you feel ready, pay attention to your breathing. Observe your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Notice where in your body you feel your breath. Repeat this exercise until you feel calm.
Counting Breaths: If you find yourself feeling dizzy and frustrated with your breathing exercises, counting breaths may help. To do this exercise, sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed. Take a few moments to clear your mind before beginning. Once you feel ready, begin to count each breath you take. Continue to count each breath until you feel calm.
Ways to Reduce Anxiety Without Medication
If you’re experiencing anxiety without medication, there are a few ways to reduce your anxiety without medication. There are many ways to manage and reduce anxiety, including taking part in self-care activities and exploring different anxiety treatments.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Exposure Therapy
- Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
What is Anxiety and What Causes It?
Anxiety, or anxiety disorder, is a mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. While there is no one cause of anxiety, there are certain factors that can increase one’s risk of experiencing a generalized anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that helps us react to stressful or dangerous situations. When we’re faced with a stressful situation, our bodies enter a “fight-or-flight” response, which releases a hormone called adrenaline.
This hormone prepares our bodies to deal with the stress we’re experiencing, whether that be a difficult exam, a scary movie, or a big work presentation.
If someone experiences anxiety disorders, they feel anxious much more often than normal, and the anxiety interferes with their daily lives. Anxiety disorders are common and can affect people of all ages.
Anxiety disorders often develop in childhood or adolescence and can persist into adulthood. While some people can experience anxiety disorders for the first time in adulthood, it is more common for people to have it early in their lives.
Other anxiety symptoms
Other than dizziness, anxiety can present with the following symptoms and signs:
- Anxiety can cause insomnia, fatigue, and a poor diet.
- You might have trouble concentrating or feel like you have a short attention span and sometimes feel restless.
- You might have a feeling of impending doom, constant worry, and feel like you have to always be on the go.
- You might have feelings of restlessness, irritability, and feel like you always have to be doing something.
- You might feel like you’re on edge and easily startled.
- You might have a racing heartbeat and feel a tightening in your chest.
Anxiety can indeed cause dizziness, primarily due to the body’s fight or flight response triggered during anxious moments. The rush of adrenaline and other physiological changes can lead to a temporary sensation of lightheadedness, wooziness, or even a feeling of motion or spinning within the head. While this dizziness is usually short-lived during acute anxiety episodes, it can persist for more extended periods in cases of chronic stress or anxiety.
Managing anxiety-induced dizziness involves addressing the underlying anxiety or stress through various techniques, including relaxation exercises, mindfulness, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Seeking professional help when needed is crucial for individuals experiencing persistent or severe anxiety-related dizziness, as a comprehensive approach to anxiety management can significantly improve overall well-being and reduce the impact of dizziness on daily life.