Distressing but Never Dangerous
Dizzy spells are one of the most common complaints when dealing with anxiety symptoms. For many, sudden dizziness was their first physical sign that something was "wrong" with them.
These feelings of dizziness come suddenly and can happen anywhere at anytime. When they happen "out of the blue" it is extremely scary because you don't really understand what happening to you or why it's happening to you. Your thoughts begin to race and then you begin wondering about all the possible causes. Sudden dizziness can easily lead you into a panic.
I don't know about you, but it was a sudden dizzy spell that triggered my fight or flight response.
Although sudden, frequent dizzy spells can be a signal that something more serious is wrong, the dizziness that is associated with stress and anxiety is not dangerous!
Most times the dizziness associated with stress and anxiety has everything to do with our breathing patterns. It's very common and yet many of us are unaware that stress and anxiety is causing us to breathe differently. Hyperventilation is the most common culprit.
Since there are real physical reasons for sudden dizziness, it's important to see your doctor to rule out more serious causes.
Some common physical reasons for dizziness, other than stress and anxiety, are:
- TMJ - Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
- Blood Pressure Abnormalities
- Sinus Problems
- Meniere's Disease
- Injury to the Head or Neck
Through specific testing, your doctor can rule out more serious reasons for your dizziness.
It's important to note that sudden dizziness, although distressing, is almost never a reason to rush to the Emergency Room.
Don't delay - call and make an appointment with your doctor if you haven't done so already! Once more serious issues have been ruled out, you can then focus all your energy on stress management so that you can keep a healthy mind and body.
Important things to remember when dealing with the dizziness that is associated with anxiety:
1. Don't Panic - Give yourself permission to accept how you are feeling. If you become afraid of your feelings of dizziness, you will only increase your anxiety. This means more uncomfortable body symptoms, including feelings of depersonalization.
If you are in public when your dizzy spells happen, stay calm. Find a place to sit, but do not leave your situation. Leaving can only contribute to agoraphobia. If you do panic, remind yourself of those panic attack facts.
2. Use Breathing Exercises - By using your breathing exercises you will bring balance to your oxygen levels. Simple 2-4 breathing should do the trick. Remember, these exercises promote physical relaxation and they will help your physical symptoms, however, regular practice at home is encouraged. Be patient with yourself!
3. Use Positive Thought Replacement - Use your positive thoughts to remind yourself that your feelings are distressing but not dangerous. If you are having a hard time saying them to yourself, write them down.
4. Get Up and Get Moving - When you feel better, get up and finish your task. If it happens again, repeat those steps again and again. It is only through repetition that you will learn and make it stick. I can't stress this enough. The only way to win the battle with anxiety is to press on even when things are uncomfortable.
This might sound funny but.......
One of the things I did that helped me overcome fear of these dizzy spells was to deliberately spin in circles and make myself dizzy on purpose.
I know for some, that sounds outrageous. Those feelings are so distressing. Why would anyone deliberately cause them?
Well, I guess my thinking at the time was that I wanted nothing more than to overcome my anxiety and I knew I had to face the feelings that were bringing me the most discomfort.
For me, those dizzy spells produced so much anxiety. They also provoked the fight or flight response and I have even had panic because of them. Making myself dizzy was my way of facing these sensations and teaching myself not to be afraid of them anymore. I had full control which is another reason why I believe it was so successful in helping me.
This exercise, no matter how silly you might think it is, helped me to convince myself that my sensations were no real cause for alarm.
I was able to desensitize myself to those feelings. So when those sensations would come at the most inconvenient of times, I knew how to shake them off. I learned to accept them for what they were and I did not add more fear by analyzing them. This would have done nothing but make my situation worse.