Overview of psychologic effects of chronic dizziness and balance disorders

Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2000 Jun;33(3):603-16. doi: 10.1016/s0030-6665(05)70229-2.


Symptoms of dizziness and imbalance often appear to be inexplicable, unpredictable, and uncontrollable. Chronic dizziness frequently leads to psychologic problems, such as panic and anxiety, preoccupation with health, avoidance of activities that seem to cause dizziness, and avoidance of situations in which dizziness might result in physical harm or social embarrassment. Paradoxically, anxiety and avoidance of activity can exacerbate and perpetuate dizziness, resulting in a vicious cycle of persistent disorientation and distress. Excessive anxiety and handicap can be pre- vented by providing patients (and their families) with a simple but detailed explanation of how symptoms are provoked and the process of adaptation following a balance disorder. This information enables patients to understand, anticipate, and manage their own symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Vertigo / psychology*