Psychiatric morbidity and comorbidity in different vestibular vertigo syndromes. Results of a prospective longitudinal study over one year

J Neurol. 2009 Jan;256(1):58-65. doi: 10.1007/s00415-009-0038-8. Epub 2009 Feb 7.


Objectives: High rates of coexisting vestibular deficits and psychiatric disorders have been reported in patients with vertigo. Hence, a causal linkage between the vestibular system and emotion processing systems has been postulated. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of vestibular function and vestibular deficits as well as preexisting psychiatric pathologies on the course of vestibular vertigo syndromes over 1 year.

Methods: This interdisciplinary prospective longitudinal study included a total of 68 patients with vestibular vertigo syndromes. Four subgroups were compared: benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo (BPPV, n=19), vestibular neuritis (VN, n=14), vestibular migraine (VM, n=27), and Menière's disease (MD, n=8). All patients underwent neurological and detailed neurootological examinations as well as two standardized interviews and a psychometric examination battery at five different times (T0-T4) over 1 year.

Results: The prevalence of psychiatric disorders at baseline (T0) did not differ between the four subgroups. Only patients with VM showed significantly higher rates of psychiatric disorders (p=0.044) in the follow-up over 1 year. Patients with a positive history of psychiatric disorders before the onset of the vestibular disorder had significantly increased rates of psychiatric disorders compared to patients with a negative history of psychiatric disorders (T1: p=0.004, T3: p=0.015, T4: p=0.012). The extent of vestibular deficit or dysfunction did not have any influence on the further course of the vestibular disease with respect to the development of psychiatric disorders.

Conclusion: A positive history of psychiatric disorders is a strong predictor for the development of reactive psychiatric disorders following a vestibular vertigo syndrome. Especially patients with vestibular migraine are at risk of developing somatoform dizziness. The degree of vestibular dysfunction does not correlate with the development of psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / diagnosis
  • Meniere Disease / epidemiology*
  • Meniere Disease / physiopathology
  • Meniere Disease / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Syndrome
  • Vertigo / diagnosis
  • Vertigo / epidemiology*
  • Vertigo / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Function Tests / methods
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / diagnosis
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / epidemiology*
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / physiopathology
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / psychology
  • Young Adult