Psychogenic Vertigo and Dizziness


Vertigo is a scary symptom which can spring up with no warning and make life very difficult. The condition affects people in highly individualized patterns and can last for a short time or a very long duration.

Symptoms of dizziness and light-headedness can prevent people from doing many of their normal daily activities, such as driving or working. Some patients are scared to even be up on their feet, feeling as if they will fall down if an attack comes on suddenly (which they often do). Suffering from ongoing or recurrent versions of the condition may not be directly painful, but the symptoms can still be incredibly life altering until they resolve.

This treatise explores mindbody reasons for vertigo, dizziness and related symptoms.

What is Vertigo?

This frightening feeling is characterized by dizziness, light-headedness or a feeling of being out of sorts with one’s surroundings. Headaches, nauseousness and a surging feeling inside the head can all accompany or replace the traditional symptomology. The feeling might be constant or may come and go.

Very particular symptomatic patterns exist in some patients, with attacks linked to particular positions or activities. Although there are drugs to help control the symptoms, there is often no treatment which can permanently resolve the condition in some unfortunate individuals. This is because diagnosing the exact true source of symptoms can be a very complicated process which often does not go well for doctor or patient.  In these cases, the frustration is just as bad as the symptoms themselves!

Vertigo Causes

The condition can be caused by a variety of anatomical, chemical and environmental sources:

Drug interactions or side effects might create acute or chronic symptoms in many patients.

Some localized or systemic health conditions also create a feeling of being dizzy and light-headed.

Inner ear concerns, such as BPPV, can definitely contribute to sudden symptoms and might resolve just as quickly as they appeared.

One of the more common causes of chronic or recurrent vertigo is certainly the psychosomatic process. The condition is a common back pain substitute symptom and is typically reported in conjunction with anxiety in highly-emotional situations.

Vertigo Experiences

I had a very intimidating experience with this condition in July 2008. I was working out with weights when I suddenly developed a surging inside the left part of my brain, towards the back, at the neckline. This feeling felt as if a blood vessel had burst and I really thought I was having a stroke or embolism of some kind. There was no pain, just a surging and electrical short circuit type of feeling accompanied by a bright flash of light in my left eye.

Well, 10 hours and many tests later, the diagnosis was made: Vertigo. There was nothing structurally wrong with me, although the doctor said I did have water in my ear (very common for me, as I am a real beach fanatic and avid swimmer).

The dizziness condition came back at the end of the year and lasted for months. After a tremendous number of tests by the ear doctor and neurologist, the cause was ruled idiopathic, although "unspecified neurological dysfunction" was located in my CNS. Sounds quite terrible to me, but the doctor did not seem overly worried.

The symptoms are mostly gone now, but in moments of extreme stress and emotional turmoil, or when I am deeply concerned about something below the level of conscious thought, it can return to some degree. I also get it when my neck is very tight and it has been suggested to me that it may be a reaction from tension in the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

This expression may be a pure psychological pain syndrome or may have a solid physical basis in my case. With the many structural issues in my neck, the neurologist is just not sure. I am inclined to think of the symptoms as a combination of anatomical and mindbody factors. It seems that anger especially sets it off.

I guess the symptom imperative is alive and well in virtually all of us, including me. I learned to put these symptoms in perspective, in order to rid myself of their power over me and my life.

If you are suffering from chronic dizziness and light-headedness, you might consider using the same knowledge therapy approach which works so well to resolve stress-related back pain. There are no costs or risks with this approach to care, so I see nothing at all to lose by giving it a try.

Back Pain > Psychologically Induced Pain Syndromes > Vertigo

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