Is it BPPV or anxiety and stress?

I just feel like I am absolutely going crazy and can't seem to get answers. I have had GAD for many years, all stemming from panic attacks in my teens.

Six years ago I suffered from major anxiety while living alone and developed vertigo. This off-balance feeling and an inner rocking sensation. It dissipated after two weeks.

Then I met my now husband and we moved in together and the off-balance feeling returned. I slowly forgot about it, reclaiming my life and felt fine. In between all of these times, however, GAD was there. I would focus on health and had major health anxiety.

I recognize that I have GAD, I am not in denial. But at the same time, I just don't understand why this is happening. I am 10 months post-partum and in the last couple of years have become self-employed. When I was 2 weeks postpartum I started to work again. I have been going non-stop ever since.

Now in the last 3 months this crazy anxiety constant vertigo feeling is back. My day starts off normal, but then while at the computer or just sitting speaking to clients, I can get this drowning feeling. Like not enough oxygen and my head begins to spin. I quickly look away, start deep breathing trying to not to panic and the feeling subsides. This happens like 4-5 times a day. And in between, I am so anxious, scared, confused and looking for answers.

Then, when I finally think I have it figured out, ( a chiropractor thinks its cervicogenic dizziness) I start analyzing thinking it couldn't be that! So I start doing some physiotherapy and think I feel better until last night. I am in bed on the computer doing some work. I shut the computer, lie down and start taking deep breaths. I turn my head and all of a sudden I am whirling like I am on a violent roller coaster. I sit up, deep breath and panic. It goes away. I sit in bed depressed.

This morning I wake up, plagued by the events of last night, wondering what could it be?? How can this be anxiety, how can this by neck?? How??

So, I watch a Youtube video of physiotherapists talking about BPPV. It kind of sounds like me. I do the activity and immediately get the spinning sensation, so I think, "Ok, it's BPPV".... I do feel unsteady after each episode! So I tell my doctor and she says it does sound like it (She doesn't know my anxiety history).

So then, I get to work, meeting with people feel fine. They leave, I am on the computer not turning my head and all of a sudden i feel the rush coming so I turn away and start deep breathing!!

Does this sound like BPPV? How can anxiety make your head whirl on change of position even when you feel everything is ok and are not particularly anxious at that time.

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4 Replies

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  • I know what you mean, Saccoluci, we know that dizziness is a symptom of anxiety, we know we have anxiety, but is our vertigo due to anxiety or a separate issue? Like you I've had BPPV and often have a feeling of unsteadiness. I ask myself is it anxiety or is it physical or (in my case) the side effect of the statin or the low dose blood pressure tablet I take?

    Has your doctor ever given you a prescription for the vertigo? If so, did they help? If they did, then the vertigo is a separate issue. If it didn't then it could well all be down to anxiety. If you haven't been given a prescription for the vertigo the best one is called Serc, maybe ask your doctor for those.

    Whether or not your vertigo is due to anxiety or recurring BPPV it would be a good idea to free yourself of the anxiety as you've had it on and off for quite a long time. Anxiety occurs when our nervous system becomes over sensitised as a reaction to too much stress and worry. Once it becomes sensitised you can start to experience all sorts of symptoms which usually mimic real organic illness. It's important to understand that the fake symptoms we feel from anxiety are not the same as the symptoms of real illness which can cause usvphysical harm. This knowledge should bring some reassurance and answer your bewilderment, anxiety won't kill you, disable you or send you crazy.

    Left to our own devices the normal reaction to netvous symptoms is fear and panic. The problem is that your over sensitive nerves thrive on fear so you only perpetuate your anxiety state. The way to recover from anxiety is to stop adding more fear to iur nervous system every time we get a bad feeling and we do that by temporarily ACCEPTING the fake symptoms of anxiety disorder for the time being. If you can learn through practice and persistance to accept the symptoms for the time being then you stop the cycle of fear producing symptoms producing more fear producing more symptoms and so on ad infinitum. Once you break the cycle you are on the road to recovery - and if your vertigo is anxiety in origin then you will recover from that too.

    I recommend that in the face if all the symptoms your sensitised nerves can throw at you, including panic attacks, you simply accept them with the minimum of fear and you will have taken the first important steps to recovery.

  • Thank your for your reply. I've had this before and not even an ENT suggested I have BPPV. I was only given anti depressants by my family doctor. Do you think this can be just anxiety causing actual spinning?

  • It's quite possible that it is, but the only way I know to find out is to take anti vertigo medications such as Serc available on prescription. If they work then it's vertigo and you need a referral to a 'dizzy doctor', if it doesn't work then it must be down to anxiety alone.

  • I was given Serc today. I will give it a try to see if it helps.

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