Dizziness is a very common physical symptom of anxiety. If you’ve lived with anxiety for any length of time then I’m sure you’ve had at least a few episodes of severe dizziness.
When you experience dizziness it can be annoying at best and terrifying at worst, and it can be hard not to think there’s a serious medical problem that’s causing the dizziness.
During the lowest points in my time with anxiety, it was dizziness that forced me to go to my doctor more times than anything else. My doctor reassured me that it was all caused by anxiety, but I used to find that very hard to believe.
What helped me to overcome my dizziness was to learn more about it. I’d like to share what I learned in this post so that you can overcome your own dizziness.
The best place to start is why anxiety causes dizziness in the first place.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?
There are 4 main ways that anxiety causes dizziness:
- your anxiety may turn into a panic attack, which will cause an adrenaline rush. This will speed up your breathing and your heart rate and increase your blood pressure and your temperature. So many significant physical changes can overwhelm your body and leave you feeling dizzy
- your anxiety, if severe, may cause confusion and disorientation. Confusion and disorientation, in combination with your anxiety, can lead to overwhelming dizziness
- your anxiety may cause visual disturbances. This can lead to a “seasickness” type of dizziness where the world seems to move independently around you
- your anxiety may cause you to breathe too quickly or too shallowly, causing an imbalance in the oxygen levels in your blood. This imbalance can affect the levels of oxygen in your brain and cause severe dizziness
With so many potential ways for your anxiety to cause dizziness, it shouldn’t be too surprising that this symptom affects you from time to time.
So even though extreme dizziness can be unpleasant and scary, the next time it happens to you, find reassurance in the knowledge that its root-cause is your anxiety and that almost everyone else with anxiety is experiencing the exact same dizziness.
What Does Dizziness Caused by Anxiety Feel Like?
A big part of dealing with any physical symptom of anxiety is becoming familiar with how it feels. This will help you recognize the symptom when it happens and find reassurance that it’s your anxiety causing the symptom and not something more worrying.
If your anxiety causes dizziness, here’s a list of what you might experience:
- you feel as if your head is spinning
- you feel faint
- you feel like you might pass out
- you feel like you’re going to lose your balance
- you feel confused
- you feel disoriented
- you feel like the world is spinning around you
- you feel like everything around you is moving too fast
- you feel sick or disoriented if you look at moving objects
- your dizziness gets worse when you move your head up or down
You can see that dizziness can affect you in many ways, and they’re all unpleasant. These are significant physical changes and it’s often difficult to believe that they’re being caused by nothing more than anxiety.
But this kind of horrible dizziness really can be caused by anxiety, and knowing that should offer you some reassurance.
How to Stop Dizziness Caused by Anxiety
As I mentioned earlier, anxiety can cause dizziness in 4 different ways:
- as a result of adrenaline released during a panic attack
- as a result of disorientation and confusion during severe anxiety
- as a result of visual disturbances
- as a result of incorrect breathing
The first 3 causes are out of your control. Once anxiety gets bad enough to cause panic attacks, disorientation, or visual disturbances, the dizziness will almost always follow, and by that time it’s too late to stop. So you just have to wait for it to pass.
That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that dizziness caused by anxiety is almost always a result of the 4th cause: the incorrect breathing. That’s something you have the power to change.
There are 2 problems with the way you breathe when you’re anxious:
- you breathe too quickly
- you breathe too shallowly
Breathing too quickly is a very common problem with anxiety, and at its extreme becomes full-blown hyperventilation.
Breathing too shallowly is also a common problem with anxiety, but it’s one that most people aren’t aware of. Breathing too shallowly means you don’t take deep, full breaths. Instead, you take short, quick breaths.
The result of both of these breathing problems is that your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide become imbalanced, and either too much or too little oxygen ends up in your system.
And that means you’ll probably feel dizzy.
There are 2 simple techniques you can use to overcome these breathing problems that lead to dizziness:
- every couple of hours, take slow and controlled breaths for a couple of minutes. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8. This controlled breathing will normalize your oxygen levels if they’re low
- anytime you feel anxious, breathe slowly into a paper bag for 30 seconds. This will prevent your moment of anxiety from leading to shallow breathing, and your oxygen levels will remain in the normal range, hopefully preventing dizziness from happening
Remember to make use of both of these breathing techniques throughout your day, and your chances of experiencing dizziness will be reduced significantly.
Like most symptoms of anxiety, dizziness is horrible and it can also be scary.
But now that you’ve learned more about it, you should hopefully feel reassured that your dizziness is purely a result of your anxiety and nothing else.
You should also feel more confident now that you now have the power to control your dizziness by using the 2 simple breathing techniques I’ve shared with you.
These 2 techniques work surprisingly well at preventing dizziness, and if you can remember to use them consistently then your dizziness should become a much smaller problem in your day-to-day life.