Anxiety and Dizziness

When you’re dealing with anxiety, you may experience various mental and physical symptoms. Dizziness is a common symptom of anxiety...

When you’re dealing with anxiety, you may experience various mental and physical symptoms. Dizziness is a common symptom of anxiety and it can leave you feeling lightheaded, unsteady, and woozy. While typically harmless, it can be uncomfortable and disruptive, especially without knowing how long the dizziness will last.

There are many different ways to stop dizziness from anxiety, and tactics you can use to manage it. Let’s explore why anxiety causes dizziness and a few practices that can help you stop it from occurring.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting one in eight Canadians.  Anxiety activates your body’s sympathetic nervous system, triggering a fight-or-flight response. During an anxiety attack, your body releases a surge of adrenaline, leading to physiological changes such as an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and shortness of breath which contribute to dizziness.

Another common cause of dizziness is hyperventilation, which often occurs during an anxiety attack. When you hyperventilate, you expel too much carbon dioxide and cannot take in enough oxygen. This reduces blood flow to your brain, leading to feelings of dizziness.

Dizziness may also be accompanied by other common symptoms of anxiety, such as:

  • Feelings of fear or dread
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension

The relationship between anxiety and dizziness is complex. Sometimes they happen together without being directly connected, but they often make each other worse. Dizziness can be caused by anxiety, or it can stem from a physical issue, which then triggers anxiety and more dizziness.

To stop this cycle, it’s beneficial to chat with a mental health professional so you can better understand the causes and symptoms of anxiety.

How Long Does Dizziness From Anxiety Last?  

Dizziness from anxiety can last anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. It largely depends on the person, the severity of their anxiety, and the situation that may be triggering the anxiety. In some cases, individuals may experience persistent dizziness for days, weeks, or even months.

If your dizziness is frequent, severe, and/or accompanied by other symptoms such as fainting, headaches, or seizures, consult with a primary care provider as soon as possible. Dizziness could also be a symptom of a physical health condition that needs immediate attention. A medical professional can suggest a treatment plan, which may involve medication, therapy, relaxation techniques, or lifestyle changes.

How to Stop Dizziness From Anxiety: 5 Tips

Dizziness from anxiety can be alarming, so having coping strategies is important. Here are some short- and long-term strategies to help manage it.

Be Mindful About Your Breathing

One of the main contributors to dizziness from anxiety is changes in breathing. To stop your dizziness, be intentional about breathing slowly and deeply. This can help regulate your oxygen levels and ease feelings of dizziness. 

If your dizziness is a result of a situation that is triggering your anxiety, try to find a quiet place to sit down and focus on your breathing. Many different breathing exercises may help, such as counting your breaths or breathing into a paper bag if you are hyperventilating. 

Engage in Stress-Relieving Activities

Different relaxation techniques can help distract or calm your anxiety and therefore lessen symptoms. Try experimenting with various activities to see what calms you. A few stress-relieving activities you can try are: 

  • Visualization: Imagine something enjoyable or peaceful to calm your mind and body. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense different muscle groups in your body and then release the tension, focusing on the contrast between tension and relaxation.
  • Listen to music: Select a playlist that will help calm your heart rate and bring you peace.

You can also try other relaxing activities, such as meditation, reading a book, drawing or other creative expressions, watching a movie, or walking.

Adopt Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Another way to stop dizziness from anxiety is to adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as:

  • Engaging in regular physical activity: Exercise releases endorphins, a feel-good hormone that helps reduce stress.
  • Getting enough sleep: Adequate sleep can improve cognitive function and resilience.
  • Eating a well-balanced diet: Eating nutritious foods and staying hydrated can help improve your physical health and prevent dizziness from anxiety.
  • Limiting stimulants: Reducing the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other stimulants can help manage anxiety levels and prevent dizziness.

Recognize Anxiety Patterns

To effectively stop dizziness from anxiety, it’s important to understand what may be causing it. After you recover from an episode, make a note about the situation you were in, who you were with, how long the dizziness from anxiety lasted, and when and where you experienced the symptoms. Having a record of these factors can help you become more aware of the root cause of your anxiety and associated dizziness and avoid them.

Seek Guidance From a Therapist

Addressing the underlying cause of anxiety is crucial for reducing symptoms. By working with a mental health professional, you can better understand your anxiety and develop techniques to help reduce the frequency and intensity of symptoms. 

One of the most common methods to treat anxiety is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Through CBT, you can learn to identify the root causes of negative thought patterns, develop skills to navigate anxiety and retrain your brain to lead a happier and healthier life. 

Get Support for Anxiety With Phare Counselling

Dizziness from anxiety can be an overwhelming experience. When anxiety symptoms interfere with your daily life, it’s best to seek professional help. Treating the underlying cause of anxiety can help relieve associated symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

At Phare Counselling, we offer affordable, inclusive, and compassionate therapy with qualified sliding scale counsellors. We can match you with a counsellor who will guide you in overcoming anxiety and achieving a more balanced life. Get started on your mental well-being journey today!

Author Bio:

Wendy Chan is a writer and editor who is passionate about health, wellness, and self-care. She has worked in marketing and communications for nearly a decade, creating educational content for brands and companies across Canada. Since 2020, she has been a writer and researcher for Phare Counselling.

Wendy specializes in authoring informative and accessible content on mental health, wellbeing, higher education, and technology. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. You can find her in Vancouver or Toronto, depending on the weather.

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