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Can Anxiety Cause Dizziness?


Although the physical symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person, dizziness is quite a common symptom to experience. Whether it’s from standing up too far or not drinking enough water, dizziness can be experienced by everyone whether you suffer from anxiety or not. This being said, if you’re prone to anxiety, your dizziness will normally be accompanied by other symptoms such as increased heart rate or breathing.


These symptoms are often triggered by a release of the stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline in the caveman part of our brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. This puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.


Why Does Anxiety Cause Dizziness?

When our body activates our fight, flight or freeze response, which causes our heart rate to increase and our breathing to become quicker and shallower. This hyperventilation feels as if you’re not getting enough oxygen however the opposite is true, it’s that you’re over oxygenating your blood you’re not getting enough carbon dioxide. 


When this happens, your blood vessels constrict, limiting the blood flow to your brain, causing you to feel lightheaded or dizzy. 


How Do I Stop This Symptom?

The key to stopping feeling dizzy due to hyperventilation is actually pretty counterintuitive. At the time, our instinct is to try and get more oxygen in through short shallow breaths, but the key is to take long breaths and actually hold your breath to allow the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to occur. 


This being said, feeling dizzy can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including dehydration or tiredness so it might be worth thinking about these lifestyle aspects and if you’re concerned, it’s always best to consult your doctor.


Of course, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety, such as dizziness, occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. This is especially important if this symptom occurs alongside the paralysis feelings associated with the freeze panic response. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.