Since writing this post a couple of years ago it has had more than 10,000 people come and read it to help cure the dizziness they are feeling. You are not alone in the way you feel. The original post is below in just a few sentences but before you get to the article I'd like to share with you the shortened version of what helped me feel better:
- The dizziness is caused by stress and emotions. You don't have a physical abnormality (of course make sure this is the case... but once you doctors say you are OK then start focusing on your stress and emotions)
- Yoga helped me for a few reasons. Those are discussed below.
- This book helped me a lot, too. It doesn't seem to be about dizziness, but it addresses the emotional and stress issue that is causing the dizziness (some people get back pain... you get dizzy).
- Lastly- a lot of people have sent me emails asking some further questions. This is totally fine but sometimes I get several a day and it can be hard to write thoughtful responses. For that reason, I added a comments area at the bottom of this page and would love to see you guys help each other.
Now for the original text...
I've been meaning to write this for a while because I've come across a lot of people who have perpetual dizziness and almost all of them feel really frustrated and alone. I felt that same way too when I was dizzy for a little over a year straight. I felt like it would never go away. But with the help of a few people and some luck, I'm now dizzy-free and have been for a few years.
When I was in Costa Rica around 2005, I had a spell of vertigo which I attributed to getting water in my ear from surfing. Vertigo is different from dizziness in that with vertigo the room literally feels like it is spinning. Some people vomit, it can be so bad. Vertigo is different from the dizziness I had for about a year. But let's get back to the story.
After a few days the vertigo went away. But about a year later I started getting just generally dizzy and thought maybe it was related to the vertigo or water in my ear. I'd describe the dizziness as feeling like you're floating or something. It's not terrible like vertigo, but it gnaws at you. When you close your eyes it can feel like you are spinning, but with your eyes open it just feels really weird and bad. Sometimes when you are talking to people or looking at something, it will feel like the room is spinning and moving behind them. It's really no fun.
After a few months of this dizziness, I went to see a series of doctors who couldn't diagnose the problem. I even had cat scans to make sure I didn't have a brain tumor. Nothing seemed to be wrong with me, but I still felt dizzy.
Eventually I figured that I'd just be dizzy forever, so I might as well settle into it. That's when I went to a yoga retreat to learn to relax about it. And it was at this yoga retreat that I started to feel better. (I'll tell you more about that in a sec.)
Long story made short... it was about six months more before I was totally dizzy-free, but everything started getting slowly better almost immediately. And making some sort of progress was really great for my mindset.
Why You're Dizzy:
Doctors aren't going to tell you what I'm about to tell you. For whatever reason they are focused on looking for structural abnormalities or diseases or something that... if your dizziness is like mine... you won't have.
When I went and worked with Madan Bali (this awesome Yoga teacher in Montreal) to just try to get over the depression I had from being dizzy all of the time, he actually showed me how to cure the dizziness. And it's surprisingly easy.
Basically you are dizzy because the blood vessels in your neck are slightly tensed so not quite enough blood is getting through. It's totally benign. Reversing this tension is all you have to do, but can take a little while. Since this tension is mostly stress-induced, it seems that a high proportion of people who suffer from this dizziness are people going through stressful periods in their life or are just generally conscientious people who feel stressed more often.
One of the toughest parts of de-stressing yourself is that the dizziness causes stress. When you get dizzy, your body drops a ton of fight-or-flight chemical which causes stress. So you are literally fighting against your body's chemical reaction. It's tough but it's possible.
How to Fix It:
I had to attack this on two fronts... the physical and the mental.
Per the yoga teacher's suggestion, I started doing shoulder stands (see: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/480). Basically everyone agrees these are good for you for a ton of reasons, but they are specifically good for dizziness.
Madan Bali described it as 'irrigating' those blood vessels. If you are upside down, there is a lot more blood pressure in your head and neck and that makes those vessels expand. So if you do that alot, the idea is that they'll expand (or at least get less tense) over time. I agree that this sounds silly, but it worked. It might take a few months, but I believe this alone can fix the problem. I did about 5 shoulder stands per day for about 2 minutes each.
I believe your mental response is the most important thing you can focus on. You are likely very stressed and tense about this whole dizziness thing, and for good reason. But you have to keep reminding yourself that what you are experiencing is benign and that the best thing you can do for yourself is to stay relaxed. So just try to keep a positive mental outlook and pamper yourself. You may want to deal with stressful stuff going on in your life too. Even if you don't fix the problem, sometimes just starting to deal with it can be a huge stress relief. (There is an EXCELLENT book I suggest you read called Healing Back Pain that discussses this. The author comes from the position of healing back pain- not dizziness- but this dizziness is caused by the same emotional issues as most back pain.)
If you are dizzy right now, I'm really sorry. It sucks. But it can get better over time.
The good news is that when you are done being dizzy, you will be able to handle just about anything that comes your way. You have been through hell and back and just about anything else in life is easier than being dizzy.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor and this is just my personal experience. Please use common sense and your best judgement.
Hi Everyone. It might be helpful for you to read some experiences of others who are now feeling better. Please feel free to contact me to share your story on this page, too!
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge in how you dealt with and how to deal with perpetual dizziness. I came across your website by chance, yet the information you provided about your own personal experience's of perpetual dizziness and your recommendation of Dr Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" has literally transformed my life. Both my Brother and I suffered from perpetual dizziness for 6 months. This happened directly after a very stressful time for both of us. As you correctly say, this is all to do with emotional stress. I purchased Dr Sarno's book from Amazon UK and both my brother and I read it with amazement and relief. It is such a profoundly obvious idea that negative emotion's can cause somatic responses in the body, yet it is an idea that is often denied and ignored. Finding your website and reading Dr Sarno's book has really had a hugely positive and life-long changing impact, on both my Brother and I. Both of our perpetual dizziness is now gone, as you can attest it really is a horrible experience and its impact feels and is overwhelming at the time. By holding what you said in mind, reading and remembering Dr Sarno's words, meditating, thinking profoundly about the cause's of the dizziness, dealing with the cause of the emotional stress and trying to stay calm and focus on the psychological causes, not the physical symptoms all is now well again. By sharing your experiences so honestly and recommending Dr Sarno's book, you have done a great kindness. I am sure you have helped many people like my brother and I, and many more people yet to come, who will chance upon your website just as I did. Thank you once again.
Additional Recommended Reading
Below are some additional reads that might help you.