Anxiety can cause a wide range of physical symptoms, including dizziness and lightheadedness.


Dizziness is a common physical symptom of several anxiety disorders. Anxiety-related dizziness may be severe enough to cause fainting.

This article explains the link between anxiety and dizziness. It also covers other anxiety symptoms and available treatment options.

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The relationship between anxiety and dizziness is complex. Some people experience dizziness due to their anxiety, while others get dizzy and then feel anxious about it.

Anxiety can cause dizziness in several ways:

  • Vasovagal syncope: This common cause of fainting happens when blood pressure suddenly drops, causing a person to feel dizzy and confused.
  • Subjective sensations: Anxiety may make a person feel emotionally unsteady, which may cause the subjective feeling of dizziness.
  • Hyperventilation: Some people may hyperventilate when anxious. This unnatural breathing deprives the brain of oxygen and can cause a person to feel dizzy or even faint.

Dizziness may also increase the risk of anxiety. When a person feels dizzy, they may worry about their health or fear fainting. These concerns can cause or intensify anxiety.

Anxiety symptoms vary between individuals, and a person’s anxiety may change with time. If someone has an anxiety disorder, the specific diagnosis may determine how their anxiety manifests.

For example, people with panic disorder may experience intense panic attacks, while those with generalized anxiety disorder may notice persistent, excessive anxiety.

Common symptoms include:

Learn more about the symptoms of the different anxiety disorders in our dedicated hub.

Dizziness can be an alarming sensation that may trigger anxiety in some people.

Chronic dizziness vs. acute dizziness

Anxiety may cause both chronic and acute dizziness.

When a person always feels dizzy or frequently experiences bouts of dizziness, they have chronic dizziness.

Acute dizziness is a brief episode that may occur during a panic attack or after standing up too quickly.

Vertigo

Vertigo is a type of dizziness that can cause a person to feel as though they are moving or falling, even when standing still.

This sensation can be a very alarming experience, increasing the risk of anxiety. People with anxiety disorders have an increased risk of some types of vertigo.

Anxiety can feel overwhelming, and a person may feel like they have lost control of their body and mind. However, anxiety is treatable. While some people have to try several treatments before something works, most can get relief with the right support.

Treatment options for anxiety include:

The most effective treatment for dizziness depends on its cause.

Learn more about medications for dizziness.

The vestibular system helps regulate balance and enables a person to be aware of their location in space. The brain and inner ear work together to give a person a sense of balance. Disorders that affect these organs may also cause dizziness.

People with a vestibular disorder may have anxiety when dizzy rather than getting dizzy due to feeling anxious. They may also have other symptoms, such as a lack of balance.

A wide range of medical conditions, including Ménière’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, may affect the vestibular system.

In many cases, it is possible to treat dizziness with medication, physical therapy, or surgery.

The right strategy for preventing dizziness depends on the underlying cause. Some strategies that may help include:

  • Wearing compression stockings: People who faint from anxiety may be able to prevent their blood pressure from dropping by wearing compression stockings.
  • Gentle breathing: Controlled breathing may prevent hyperventilation and ease anxiety.
  • Lying down: This reduces the risk of fainting from dizziness.
  • Anxiety awareness: For some people, simply being aware that anxiety is the reason for dizziness can prevent a panic attack. Avoiding triggers and seeking anxiety treatment can also help.

In most cases, anxiety-related dizziness is not a major cause for concern. However, it is possible to have anxiety and a serious underlying condition that causes dizziness. Therefore, people with chronic dizziness and anxiety should not dismiss their symptoms.

When anxiety is the primary cause of dizziness, the dizziness may come and go. Acute episodes usually get better on their own, though a person may continue to experience dizziness relating to their anxiety. Treating anxiety often helps.

A person should consult a doctor if they:

  • develop dizziness after taking a new medication
  • experience severe and chronic dizziness
  • experience other symptoms, such as vomiting