Dizziness can be psychological
Persistent dizziness, in the morning in the evening or all day: For those affected, this condition is hardly bearable. The causes of persistent dizziness can be very different. There are often physical complaints such as neck tension. But just as often, psychological stress or anxiety can also be the reason for dizziness. Doctors at the vertigo clinic at the Stuttgart Citizens' Hospital are currently investigating the reasons for vertigo attacks. They found that mental problems are a common cause of dizziness.
Dizziness is almost a widespread disease: "Dizziness is widespread and occurs in Germany about as often as a headache," reports Prof. Annegret Eckhardt-Henn, medical director of the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy in the Stuttgart Citizens' Hospital. About 12 percent of the German population suffer from dizziness and balance problems at least once in their life. "Around 30 percent of all forms of vertigo can be attributed to psychological causes," says Eckhardt-Henn.
Fear triggers dizziness
Dizziness can occur in the context of many mental disorders, such as depression, pyschoses and especially anxiety disorders. Vertigo and other specific phobias, agoraphobia with or without panic attacks, are often accompanied by dizziness, which is usually described as diffuse and unsystematic dizziness. It often takes a long time for a person to accept a psychogenic cause. After all organic causes have been ruled out, the recommendation for psychotherapy is often made with the medical diagnosis of "phobic dizziness".
Dizziness "without findings"
Many sufferers go to the doctor over and over again, but in many cases no clear diagnosis can be made. They move from suspicion to suspicion. Sometimes patients are told that there may be blockages in the cervical spine or that there are problems in the cardiovascular system. Others are told that they suffer from circulatory disorders. Many patients also easily get the diagnosis "without any findings". It takes several years for those affected to find out the reasons for the complaint. "Most patients with somatoform vertigo run from suspicion to suspicion, do unnecessary therapy after another, and swallow lots of unnecessary medication," says Dr. Mark Obermann, head of the vertigo center in Essen. For many people, a cycle of fear begins, because most are afraid that a serious illness is the cause. "The fear of having something really bad is growing inexorably." In many patients, the dizziness is so pronounced that they hardly leave the house out of fear. "At the beginning of the problem are phobias, depressive or dissociative disorders," explains Eckhardt-Henn.
It becomes clear that fears can lead to a psychological dizziness. Affected patients hardly dare to go to public places, to events such as cinema or theater or department stores. "It can also be the fear of escalators or going to the cinema that triggers the dizziness." Anxiety patients sweat at such moments and their hands start to tremble. In some situations, vertigo attacks begin in some patients: "The vertigo is then experienced as the primary problem, not the fear behind it."
Prof. Michael Strupp, head of the dizziness clinic at the Großhadern Clinic in Munich, recognizes dizziness patients from their sometimes very similar characteristics: "They are very dutiful people who are very careful to have a grip on themselves." With the negative experiences The first dizziness sensitizes the patient to the inside. Those affected have an intense sense of self regarding the information of the sense of balance.
No one is "free from vertigo"
No one is really dizzy. No one can stand 100 percent straight and without movement. However, anxiety patients pay close attention to how their bodies slide back and forth. Every little movement is recorded very precisely and interpreted as a hoax. This creates a spiral of fear, which intensifies the dizziness and reproduces it again and again. However, the feeling of dizziness can subside if those affected are distracted and do not concentrate too much on their own balance. If, for example, the person affected is explained in the form of psychotherapy that such a spiral exists, this is the first step to tackle the vertigo. Step by step, it is then possible to desensitize the patients and provide them with methods to deal with the psychological dizziness. (sb, 07.10.2010)