Who is at risk for ongoing dizziness and psychological strain after a vestibular disorder?

Neuroscience. 2009 Dec 29;164(4):1579-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.09.034. Epub 2009 Oct 12.


Patients with vestibular vertigo syndromes often suffer from anxiety and depression, whereas patients with psychiatric disorders often experience subjective unsteadiness, dizziness, or vertigo. Thus, it has been hypothesized that the vestibular system may be interlinked with the emotion processing systems. The aim of the current study was to evaluate this hypothesis by correlating vestibular and psychiatric symptoms with the course of the disease over 1 year. This interdisciplinary, prospective, longitudinal study included a total of 68 patients with acute vestibular vertigo syndromes. Four subgroups of patients with benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo (BPPV, n=19), acute vestibular neuritis (VN, n=14), vestibular migraine (VM, n=27), or Menière's disease (MD, n=8) were compared. All patients underwent neurological and neuro-otological examinations and filled out standardized self-report inventories including the Vertigo Symptom Scale (VSS), the Vertigo Handicap Questionnaire (VHQ) and the Symptom Checklist 90R (GSI, SCL-90R) at five different times (T0-T4) in the course of 1 year. VM patients experienced significantly more "vertigo and related symptoms" (VSS-VER), "somatic anxiety and autonomic arousal" (VSS-AA), and "vertigo induced handicap" (VHQ) than all other patients (P<0.001-P=0.006). Patients with a positive history of psychiatric disorders had significantly more emotional distress (GSI, SCL-90R), regardless of the specific phenomenology of the four diagnostic subgroups. Finally, fluctuations of vestibular excitability correlated positively with the extent of subjectively perceived vertigo. VM patients are significantly more handicapped by vertigo and related symptoms. They show significantly elevated fluctuations of vestibular excitability, which correlate with the (subjective) severity of vertigo symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Dizziness / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / complications
  • Meniere Disease / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Syndrome
  • Vertigo / complications
  • Vertigo / psychology
  • Vestibular Diseases / complications
  • Vestibular Diseases / psychology*
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / complications
  • Vestibular Neuronitis / psychology