Can Stress Cause Vertigo? Here's What To Know
If stress is making you feel dizzy, you might be dealing with stress-induced vertigo. Read on for what you need to know.
Have you ever been really stressed at work, or maybe just got out of a rough argument with your significant other, then all of a sudden felt so dizzy that you almost lost balance? You may have experienced stress-induced vertigo, which while not too common, can really catch you off-guard. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between stress and vertigo.
What Is Vertigo?
Vertigo is a specific type of dizziness that feels uncomfortable and disorienting. It’s relatively uncommon, with only a small percentage of adults self-reporting that they’ve experienced it at some point in their lives. There’s sometimes no noticeable trigger for vertigo, but some people feel it coming on when they are stressed or anxious.
What Causes Vertigo?
Most cases of vertigo stem from an imbalance in your vestibular system. This system regulates your sense of balance, and it’s located in your inner ear.
During a typical bout of vertigo, your vestibular system is thrown out of balance for one reason or another, and this change can make you feel dizzy, sometimes even making it hard to stay standing.
In other cases, vertigo might be caused by intense stress or anxiety. In fact, a feeling of vertigo is a commonly reported symptom during a panic attack. Panic attacks can be triggered by high levels of anxiety, and they’re accompanied by intense physical sensations that resemble a heart attack.
Can Stress Make You Dizzy?
It’s not common, but it can happen — long-lasting, high stress can make you feel like the room is spinning around you. It’s easy to think about stress as “all in your head,” but there’s a real connection between your body and mind, which means all of that stress can affect you physically, too.
Dizziness isn’t the most common symptom of high stress, but it’s not unheard of, either. There are several ways that stress can make you dizzy, including:
Engaging Your Central Nervous System’s “Fight or Flight” Response
When you’re under intense stress, your body may engage the same instinctive response that it would use to help you escape from a life-threatening situation. This response involves the release of chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline in your body which can help you act quickly when you’re in danger.
However, excessive amounts of these stress hormones won’t do you any favors when there isn’t actually a threat to your safety.
When the fight or flight response engages in the absence of real danger, you’re left feeling on edge and overwhelmed. If you’ve ever been in a real crisis situation, you know that feeling of being hyper-aware of your surroundings and everything happening around you. It can be a dizzying and disorienting sensation, and it’s primarily caused by the fight or flight response.
The chemicals that your body releases in response to high stress can certainly make you feel off, and you might even get the sense that the room is spinning and everything is moving faster.
Stress Might Make You Forget To Take Care of Yourself
Chronic stress makes it easier than ever to forget the most essential parts of your life, including eating and drinking. Not getting enough food or water is a surefire way to start feeling dizzy, which adds to the list of links between vertigo and stress.
Living a high-stress life has plenty of drawbacks for your health, and its impact on your eating and drinking routines is just one of them. Habitually relying on iced coffee and going for hours without food is a recipe for disaster, and it can make you dizzy for several different reasons, from low blood sugar to dehydration.
In addition to affecting your diet, stress can also make it harder to sleep – another lifestyle factor that might increase your risk of experiencing vertigo. If you’re not getting enough rest each night, you might feel a sudden onset of dizziness during the day because your body and mind can’t function at 100 percent if you aren’t well-rested. Other accompanying symptoms of sleep deprivation can include headaches and twitchy eyes.
Certain Anxiety Triggers May Cause Vertigo
If you suffer from anxiety that seems to get worse in certain circumstances, you may experience vertigo more often than the average person. Since vertigo can be a symptom of anxiety or panic attacks, it’s often one of the first sensations that lets an anxious person know that they’re in a triggering situation or environment.
Have you ever felt incredibly dizzy when you’re forced to do something that makes you nervous? It might be driving down a busy street in an unfamiliar city or giving a speech in front of a class full of peers. These are common triggers for vertigo in anxious individuals.
How To Manage Your Stress and Stop Feeling Dizzy
If you suspect that stress is the primary cause for your dizziness, it’s time to get some much-needed relief. We’ve devoted the next few sections to helping you formulate a strategy for conquering the stress in your life. Try implementing these tips into your daily routine for a calmer mind and less uncomfortable symptoms like dizziness and vertigo.
Be Careful With Caffeine
Caffeine is one of the most popular stimulants in the world. Some people start the day with a highly caffeinated drink, then have another one a few hours later. You might be one of those people, and there’s no shame in that. However, it’s worth considering that your caffeine intake might intensify the negative effects of stress.
As a stimulant, caffeine helps you feel mentally aware and can keep you focused and motivated. However, the same stimulating power that gives caffeine its benefits is what makes it risky for stress-prone people.
The best way to make sure you’re maintaining a healthy relationship with caffeine is by focusing on moderation. You probably don’t need to eliminate all coffee and tea from your life completely to avoid stress-related symptoms like dizziness. However, sticking to one or two cups a day of your favorite caffeinated beverage may help you stay calmer and keep those feelings of being off-balance at bay.
Drink Enough Water
We’re all about hydration here at ivee. That’s because we know that fluids are essential for a healthy body and mind. It’s also one of your best assets when reducing stress.
Drinking plenty of water each day lays the foundation for lower stress by equipping your body and mind with one of the key components of good health.
If you’re feeling dehydrated, think about how much water you’ve had to drink today. The average adult needs about eight 8-oz. glasses of water.
IV therapy may also help — it’s one of the quickest and most convenient ways to restore your body’s fluid levels, plus you can receive other nourishing nutrients in the same treatment. Learn more by checking out our post on hydrating IV treatments.
Talk to Someone
This is one of the most often-overlooked remedies for stress, but it’s also one of the easiest. Isolation is a common feeling when you’re overwhelmed by the stress in your life, and that isolation can easily push you away from the people you love.
However, reaching out and letting someone know how you feel can be the first step towards stress relief.
Stress often feels worse when you feel alone in dealing with it. That’s why it’s so helpful to be honest with someone who cares about you when you’re having a rough time. That person can help by listening, offering encouragement, and breaking you out of that stress-inducing isolation.
Meditation is one of the healthiest practices for your mind, and its popularity in the West has been steadily growing. If you’ve never practiced meditation before, it’s essentially clearing your mind and giving yourself some time for peace, reflection, and sometimes, just nothingness.
One common goal for a meditation session is acknowledging all of the things in your life that deserve gratitude. Another approach is to clear your thoughts and let incoming thoughts pass on through, giving your mind a chance for some quiet.
Try Some Light Exercise
Exercising has countless health benefits, including managing stress. However, you don’t need to wear yourself out at the gym to harness the positive effects of exercise for your mental health. If you’ve been dealing with plenty of stress in your life recently, even some low-intensity exercise can help.
Low-impact workouts like a short walk or bike ride promote the release of endorphins in your brain, which play a key role in helping you feel calm and content. That’s just one of the many reasons to move your body each day.
Living a stress-free life is nearly impossible, but it’s easier than you may think to live a less-stressed life. If you’re experiencing the negative effects of stress, including dizziness and vertigo, engaging in the healthy habits listed above can make a major difference for your overall well-being. And if you have any questions or need further guidance, your Primary Care Provider can give you some specific insight, especially with your health history in context.
To learn more about living a healthy life and optimizing your physical and mental performance, make sure to check out our blog for more articles like this!
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic
How to Live a Stress Free Life In a Way Most People Don't | Stress.org