A clinical taxonomy of dizziness and anxiety in the otoneurological setting

J Anxiety Disord. Jan-Apr 2001;15(1-2):9-26. doi: 10.1016/s0887-6185(00)00040-2.


Dizziness can be associated with otologic, neurologic, medical, and psychiatric conditions. This paper focuses on the interface between otologic and psychiatric conditions. Because dizziness often is situation specific, concepts of space and motion sensitivity (SMS), space and motion discomfort (SMD), and space and motion phobia (SMP) are needed to understand the interface. We present a framework involving several categories of interactions between balance and psychiatric disorders. The first category is that of dizziness caused by psychiatric disorder (psychiatric dizziness), including hyperventilation-induced dizziness during panic attacks. The second category involves chance cooccurrence of a psychiatric disorder and a balance disorder in the same patient. The third category involves problematic coping with balance symptoms (psychiatric overlay). The fourth category provides psychological explanations for the relationship between anxiety and balance disorders, including somatopsychic and psychosomatic relationships. The final category, neurological linkage, focuses on the overlap in the neurological circuitry involved in balance disorders and anxiety disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dizziness / complications*
  • Dizziness / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications*
  • Vestibular Diseases / physiopathology