Otology Semina
Psychogenic Dizziness
R3 林正民
 Simpson : Psychogenic dizziness—a clinical syndrome characterized by vague,
persistent sensation of dizziness, subjective imbalance, lightheadedness, or
fullness in the head without evidence of vestibular dysfuntion on NE or balance
function tests.
Bath: 20~25% patients with chronic dizziness psychogenic dizziness.
Jacob: Psychogenic dizziness is significant related to panic disorder with or
without agoraphobia. Some related to hyperventilation.
Robichaud: Hyperventilation-induced nystagmus is significant related with
retrocochlear pathology than with end-organ pathology.
Murphy: Mal de Debarquement syndrome (MDDS)—an imbalance or rocking
sensation lasts for 6-12 months after prolonged exposure to motion (most
commonly after a sea cruise or a long airplane flight).
Brandt: Phobic postural vertigo (PPV)—a somatoform disorder characterized by
a chronic and subjective imbalance and short attacks of dizziness.
Panic disorder with/without agoraphobia
Diagnosis criteria for panic attacks in DSM-IV (≧4 symptoms)
Symptoms develop abruptly and reached peak in 10`mins.
1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
2. Sweating
3. Trembling or shaking
4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
5. Feeling of choking
6. Chest pain or discomfort
7. Nausea or abdominal distress
8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
9. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from
10. Fear of losing control or going crazy
11. Fear of dying
12. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
13. Chills or hot flushes
Agoraphobia: Axiety about being in places or situation which escape might be
 64% of dizzy patients need of psychological help. 8% had panic disorder.
 Co-morbid dizziness and anxiety is 11%.
The concept of psychogenic dizziness
Psychoanalytical view: Psychic conflicts can manifest as somatic symptoms.
 Psychogenic vertigo is often diagnosed as an anxiety concomitant, or an
anxiety equivalent.
Conflicts or stress in the life  dizziness  psychic defenses collapse  trigger
regressive mechanisms  chronic dizziness
The onset of Phobic postural vertigo (PPV) coincided with psychological
conflicts associated with the feelings of existential threat.
 Bridges, empty rooms, the crowds
 concomitant anxiety and autonomic symptoms
 personality disorder, especially obsessional traits
Revised taxonomy for vestibular disorders and for psychiatric dizziness
Dizziness is either organic or psycogenic?
Categories of dizziness etiologies:
 Syndromal vestibular disorders
 Non-syndromal vestibular disorders
 Subclinical vestibular disorders
 No vestibular disorder
“Psychiatric dizziness”, on if it is part of a recognized psychiatric symptom
complex, and cannot be explained by a vestibular disorder.
Behavioral effects on vestibular (dys)function
Psychological factors on vestibular function:
Attention, cognitive activities, mental stress, and hyperventilation
 After hyperventilation, significant increase in body sway of normal individuals.
 Hyperventilation reductions in somatosensory input
 Hyperventilation induced nystagmus in patients with vestibular disorders
 Hyperventilation affects both affected nerve and central compensation.
 Caution us: Hyperventilation-induced dizziness not always psychogenic
Somatopsychic effects:
Can vestibular symptoms result in anxiety?
 Space and motion discomfort visual influence on balance Autonomic
anxiety symptoms, including sweating, dry mouth, hot flash.
Can a reduction of the symptoms/signs of vestibular dysfunction lead to a reduction in
 Vestibular rehabilitaion and cognitive behavior therapy can improve patients
with agoraphobia and vestibular dysfunction independently.
Treatment of Panic Disorder with and without Agoraphobia
 Medication: anti-depressant (SSRI), anxiolytics(eg. Ativan, Xanax)
 Education about physical and mental symptoms (cognitive restructuring)
 Breathing retraining
 Interoceptive exposure (repeated hyperventilation to produce physical
symptoms); and real life (In-vivo) exposure to feared situations.
1. Bath AP, Walsh RM, Ranalli P, et al. Experience from a multidisciplinary “dizzy” clinic.
Am J Otology 2000;21:92–97.
2. Yardley L. Overview of psychological effects of chronic dizziness and balance disorders.
Otolaryngol Clin N Am 2000; 33:603–616.
3. Staab JP. Diagnosis and treatment of psychologic symptoms and psychiatric disorders in
patients with dizziness and imbalance. Otolaryngol Clin N Am 2000;33:617–633.
4. Jacob RG, Furman JM, Durrant JD, Turner SM. Panic, agoraphobia, and vestibular
dysfunction. Am J Psychiatry 1996;153:503–512.
5. Jacob RG, Furman JM. Psychiatric consequences of vestibular dysfunction. Curr Opin
Neurol 2001;14:41–46.
6. Kapfhammer HP, Mayer C, Hock U, et al. Course of illness in phobic postural vertigo.
Acta Neurol Scand 1997;95:23–28.
7. Nagarkar AN, Gupta AK, Mann SB. Psychological findings in benign paroxysmal
positional vertigo and psychogenic vertigo. J Otolaryngol 2000;29:154–158.
8. Bance ML, O'Driscoll M, Patel N, Ramsden RT. Vestibular disease unmasked by
hyperventilation. Laryngoscope. 1998 Apr;108(4 Pt 1):610-4. Erratum in: Laryngoscope
1998 Jun;108(6):948.
9. Jacob RG, Whitney SL, Detweiler-Shostak G, Furman JM. Vestibular rehabilitation for
patients with agoraphobia and vestibular dysfunction: a pilot study. J Anxiety Disord.
2001 Jan-Apr;15(1-2):131-46.
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