Anxiety and Hyperventilation
Complaints of anxiety and dizziness commonly go hand in hand. Whether dizziness leads to anxiety or vice versa is open to discussion. The truth is both can occur.
Anxiety Leading to Dizziness
Anxiety, stress or panic creates chemical changes in the body. We all have a “fight or flight” response to stress. This surge of adrenaline gives your body what it needs to either “fight” the source of the danger (anxiety) or run away from danger (“flight”).
When adrenaline is released into your body, your heart rate, blood pressure and rate of breathing increase. When your heart rate and respirations are elevated, you bring more oxygen into your body than needed. The oxygen level in the blood stream gets too high and the relative carbon dioxide level becomes too low. This causes pressure in the cerebral blood vessels, leading to feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
Other common symptoms include:
- Tingling around the lips and fingertips
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
Dizziness Leading to Anxiety
Patients with chronic undiagnosed inner ear disorders often have a variety of anxiety reactions that can affect quality of life.
In addition, inner ear disorders are more bothersome for patients when they are exposed to unfamiliar or moving visual settings. Since these patients may rely on visual information for balance, busy settings (like a grocery store) may be stressful and unsettling. This may result in agoraphobia, or anxiety about being away from home or in public places that cause panic or discomfort.
Counseling on the connection between anxiety and dizziness may break the cycle and provide relief.