Life Stressful Events

Hi Everyone,

Does anyone here believe that a Stressful event contributed to your dizzy illness? I have always believe Stress either played an indirect or direct roll in it. I worked in a job that was very stressful for me and some unfair things happened and i took it personally. Then i decided to change jobs within the same company and it ended up being way over my head and i struggled but could not master it. After 3 months of severe stress i decided to return to my old job. Within 6 months i began to expeirence a Vertigo episode (twice a year) and it always happened at night and would wake me up while sleeping. Then gradually it became worse. Within 3 years the motion became chronic. I have heard many times throughout my life time that stress can bring on illnesses. Anyone have a similar experience or believe that this is possible?


I’m not sure I can point to one specific incident. Over the past ten years my husband went on dialysis, had a kidney transplant, my mother-in-law (whom I loved very much) died, & my mother almost died - well actually she did die but they brought her back. Add to the mix the fact that my husband & I made (& spent) an ‘upper-middle class’ salary before his inherited disorder got the better of him - only to fall to barely enough income to make our bills. I’m a mom - 12 yr. old girl & 20 yr. old boy - they’re pretty good kids, so I don’t feel like they’ve contributed above-&-beyond the usual amount of stress, however, my husb & son did a lot of head-butting in his teens which was pretty stressful for me - always trying to play the referee. (My son’s from my first marriage.)

I expect stresses of the previous years have at least added to my problems. Headaches (w/migraine diagnosis) began in 2000 which is right after I left the Lutheran Church of my childhood & joined a Southern Baptist Church. That was an extremely stressful time because my mom didn’t … well … let’s just say she didn’t accept my decision with excitment. (That ‘stress’ did bring about a reoccurrence of my psoriasis which, regardless of hokey commercials spouting the “heart break of psoriasis”, is not a joking matter or pleasant disease.)

Husb was on the kidney transplant list at that time (2000) & went on disability that year, too. (Looking back, it sounds like I had plenty of reasons to be sick :lol: )

Vertigo started right before Christmas 2005 … nothing comes to mind as standing out stress-wise then.

Why on earth would this stuff come on at night when we’re asleep?? Seems like that would be one of the least stressful times. I’m not at all doubting your experiences, just curious.

And my job’s probably the least stressful thing in my life. One-person office (comprised of ME), boss is stationed in Rome & only comes to see me 3-4 times each year for a couple days at a time. He’s a very nice man & is always polite & considerate. I think if I had to change jobs or stay at home now, I’d really go nuts.

For me, a stressful event DIRECTLY caused my dizziness in my opinion. I went through 2 months of tough stress, then 2 weeks of acute stress with horrible axiety attacks, and when this all came to a head, I woke up like this and it never went away. To me, that shows a direct correlation as nothing else was different in my life. That’s why I believe that to heal this, brain chemistry must be balanced. I’m extremely anxious and depressed so I’m starting on an anti-despressant to see what it does. What else can I do right?


There is no doubt that my MAV was triggered by a serious stressfull situation. My wife was pregnant and went into labor 8 weeks early. She spent a week trying not to have our son, and everytime I walked into the hospital room, she had another pump, IV, monitor or something hooked up to her. Our son is fine now, but I started having some odd hearing problems that first week, and over the next month that he was in the hospital everything got worse. By the time we had brought him home, I was virtually deaf in what I call my bad ear. Things just got worse from there and continued getting worse over the next 5 or 6 years until I got an accurate diagnoses. Once we started a proper treatment, things started getting better almost right away.

Joy…you really have been thru alot with death in the family and other issues. The big question is if these difficult life events prompt our illness why is other people go thru difficult times…maybe worse and don’t get sick? I wonder if it is how we manage it? When i was going thru extreme stress at the job i had a number of years back…trying to learn and comprhend it all but no matter what i did i just could not grasp it…and i would go home feeling like i failed and having difficulty sleeping. It was like a tape in my head of all the negativity that was going on at work. I could tell the boss was not impressed with me. I should have quit earlier but stuck with it. Since my condition began started out similar to Benign Positional Vertigo…my doc said it is possible that is what i had at first then it evolved into Migraine. Who knows for sure.

Rich…your condition began directly instead of gradually?? For some of us our illness begin over night and others it’s gradually. So many questions…not enough answers.

Brian…i remember in the past you shared with me that stressful event regarding your wife and her pregnacy. It must have been extremely stressful! But you have made some progress since then?? How much progress have you made?

Thanks everyone for sharing.


I tend to be skepitcal when it comes to the “stress connection”. It seems like we’re always under some kind of stress and when somthing weird like this starts happening and we can’t find a reason there is a natural tendency to blame the stress. Having said that, I am begrudingly comming around to the idea that stress may have contributed to me developing this condition. At the time all this started I was in a high stress job and (after several miscarriages) my wife was pregnant with our first child (wonderful but stressful). I definitely think the high stress levels may have pushed me over the edge.

Interestingly I’ve had several mini-remissions over the last three years - one of these lasting several months - where the symptoms improved and I thought I was finally going to get over this thing. I’m always trying to pin down what has been different during these times. Was I eating better, exercising more regularly or did I just have a generally lower stress level? My current theory is that perhaps I was doing a better job at getting regular cardiovascular exercise during these time periords and of course exercise is a fantastic stress reliever. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else who tried a regular exercise program and wheather or not it seemed to help.

If I get this figured out I’ll be sure and post so we can all get this behind us.

Good luck.


I also try and figure out what temporal vs. causal relationships exist between my symptoms and what I do. I agree with you that stress is ubiquitous, and often cumulative stress can have consequences.
When I feel better, I play tennis as much as possible, and it really helps. I knew I was getting better when I could look up at my serve.
Because I flared this last month, no tennis. But I’m going to hit the ball with my husband now that it’s getting warm out, to take away the stress of a game. Vestibular rehab made me much worse, but tennis has been a life saver. Especially doubles, because you can back off if needed.
We know with migraines, that a trigger can occur 72 hours before a migraine–they’re stackable and the hypothalamus keeps track for 72 hours, so that trigger you had three days ago, causes the headache–yet you’ve almost forgot it…(From Heal your Headache/Buccholz)
I don’t get headaches, just dizzy.
Part of trying to regain control is to figure out how to self manage this and avoid triggers.

Hey Kira,

Great to hear from a fellow tennis player. I plan to start getting 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise everyday no matter what else is going on in my life. At the end of a month I’ll see if its made any difference. I figure even if I get no vestibular benefit from it, its got to be good for the rest of me.

LIke you I don’t get headaches, at least not headaches that I would have ever called migraines. I have noticed that when I’m having a lot of disequilibrium I often also have a vague background headache going on. Kind of hard to describe - not exactly painful - sort of like my head is 3 sizes too big… But the whopping, pulsing, one sided headaches that I’ve alway associate with migraine…I never have anything like that.

I know exactly what you mean, I get a vague headache–sometimes pressure in my temples, but more a weird feeling in my head. No classic migraine headaches.
You’re going to motivate me now. Part of flaring for a month has meant that I’ve been limiting my activity severely. I think the exercise, especially if there’s no stress involved will be good. And my dog will appreciate the walks.
It’s weird how I can be dizzy, but pull it together on the tennis court. I’m not a great player, but I really enjoy it, especially if I play with people who just love the game. Before the recent set back, I was in a league and got to play with some of the 4.0 players, and ironically I play better if they’re on the court–it keeps me focused.
I’m hoping to resume soon–just no overheads…

Kira & Chaz,

I may have similar symptoms as you. I also don’t have the classic painful migraines. What i do have is also hard to describe. If i sit still i can feel a slight THROBBING going on inside my head…with that said… it comes with TENSION and with those two symptoms working together i get the WAVY ROCKING MOTION. Feels like my heart is inside my head rather than my ches. I know i keep talking about “inside my head”…sounds like a broken record. but since it’s more of a Silent Migraine (throbbing, tension, motion) i guess that is why i want to be sure i’m clear to you guys about where the bulk of the symptoms are at. If someone has a Classic Painful Migraine…they don’t have to refer to “inside there head” because we all know where all the discomfort is. Also…inside my head feels like it’s kind of swollen inside. Another way to describe it would be like Tension-Energy moving every which way throughout my head. Likes it out of control. Without the Anti-anxiety medication all of these symptoms become out of control and i am not able to function well. The medication basically helps me to keep Stationary.


Hi everyone :),

Thanks for this good discussion.

Thinking back, I started getting dizzy when I got really stressed out at work about 4 years ago (management change), continuing for more than a year (that was a big year - change job, went back to uni, move house…).
Once things settled down, the dizzies seems to settle down a bit. I still get ‘episodes’ (2-3 weeks every 2-3 months), and occasional ‘mini episodes’ lasting a few hours. Nothing to bad - I can still continue working.

In the last few month, I got stressed out again at work (a major restructurisation leading to a lot of disssatisfactions), and started to get really dizzy again (+ a few ‘mild’ migraine attacks), which has been going for about 8 weeks now.
Still OK to work, although people would notice that I’d walk into things… I do need to leave early a couple of times.

I am not on any prescribed medication - I take some OTCs when it gets bad (Australian Panadeine - paracetamol + codeine)

Anyone with similar experience? Just wondering if, for you, the symptoms get better when the stressful event has passed?


My big crash occurred in 2003 due to an episode of BPPV that violently erupted in a yoga class–but there had been stress in my life. Since then, I made some improvement, and have been working at a job that requires very long hours in a windowless room. All along I told them about the vertigo, and was completely ignored. I was realizing that it was exhausting me, and then about a month ago, I was at work, had sensitivity to sound/light/smell and became really dizzy–and the dizziness has hung around. It has forced me to reduce my hours, and insist on an office with a window.
My symptoms are at their greatest at work due to the stress, and my otologist told me that it’s been proven that dizzy people spend so much mental energy staying balanced that when you add another mental task, balance suffers.
So, in retrospect, I kept giving in to the demands of work and increased my hours and knew it was too much. The recent setback has given me a way to reduce my hours and get the natural light that I need.
Stress makes the symptoms worse, definitely.
Here’s the irony, I feel guilty and embarrassed about reducing my work hours, and I feel stigmatized–there are those who support me at work (“your health comes first”) and those who feel that I’m somehow getting away with something, or damaged goods.
My otologist has told me for several years that I push my limits and need to acknowledge them, but it’s so hard to let this control your life.

I know this is off topic, but I am so struck by the term “damaged goods.” Last summer, anytime I would go out, which was only to doc appts, people (health professionals!) looked at me like I was a freak. It’s like they couldn’t deal with me being sick. I commented more than once - “I thought you people dealt with dizzy patients!” Once I was having an EEG and having to sit and look at things and all kinds of things I wasn’t capable of doing. When we were done, she told me to go to the waiting room. I told her I couldn’t sit in the waiting room. (at that point, I would sit in the car with the seat all the way back, let my husband check me in and not go in until they had a table for me) She got sassy with me - she had another patient and i needed to go to the waiting room. I lost it. “I’m here because I’m SICK! Don’t you know how to take care of sick people?! Could you please have a little compassion?! I AM NOT going to the waiting room!”

It still makes me ill to think about the bad treatment I got. Only once, during my MRI, did a technician treat me with kindness. As I was leaving, she said “I hope this goes away as fast as it came on.” You could see the empathy on her face. I’ll never forget that one.

One day I was looking out the window and for some reason a van had pulled over to the side of the road. The driver got out and opened the back door to let out a girl with palsy. She was hysterical and the driver was letting her into the front seat with her. I thought - there but for the grace of God go I. Inside, I cried for her. I don’t know what kind of awareness she has of her condition, but I have some sense of what it’s like to be “damaged.”


Having just read that, I can only say I sit here with tears in my eyes. How true. How absolutely true.

I’m gonna keep going off-topic here, but your post brought forth alot of hurt for me. I actually have close family members who don’t believe I am sick. I don’t “look” sick, so how can I be? I have a sister who suffers badly with migraines, but because I don’t have the head pain that she does, there is nothing wrong with me. She’s never been dizzy a day in her life, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve secretly wished she would have vertigo for just one day. Just one day!!! I love her dearly, she was a huge financial help to me when all of this hit, and I couldn’t work. I was a newly single-parent and couldn’t support my daughter. I was SICK!

I’ve since been blessed to be able to start my own business. I work my own hours. I HAVE to. I can’t punch a time-clock. I don’t know from one minute to the next how I’m gonna feel. She doesn’t get it. She sees me struggling financially and just doesn’t get it. Can’t understand why I just don’t go out and get a “real job”.

Anyway, you mentioned your MRI. When I went for mine, I was a basket-case. I’m very claustrophobic, refused to take the valium they offered me beforehand (I can’t take stuff like that ), and layed there the whole 40 minutes just waiting to scream because I knew when I started into a spin it was gonna be all over and they would have to start over. I made it through, only to be told somebody screwed up (apparently my Doctor) and I had to go back the next day to be injected with the dye and do it all over again. When I got off the table the 2nd day, I had double-vision and I was scared, because I couldn’t see. The Technician just shrugged her shoulders, handed me my clothes and said “well, its nothing we did here”. I just about crawled out to the waiting room, crying, and bumping into walls. I will never have another MRI as long as I live.

People don’t get it.


To continue the off topic conversation:

People don’t get it–and we get no credibility.
Even my husband is both sympathetic and frustrated, and over and under-estimates my abilities–but he’s trying.
I continue to try and work–and with my last set-back (I told them from day 1 about the vertigo–yet accepted a move to windowless office, and 12 hours days), I needed official “notes” from my doctors to cut back to half days, using an office with a window. I get so many hostile comments from the “professionals” I work with, while the support staff literally are supportive.
I completely understand the desire to have someone else experience this.
People, and physicians, get frustrated when we don’t get better as planned.
There is a site, written by a woman with lupus, called “But you don’t look sick”–it’s for people with hidden disabilities. She’s written an essay about rationing herself due to her limitations, called the spoon theory–

I’m always amazed, Julie, that offices that are set up to treat dizzy people aren’t set up with wide, uncluttered hallways, little visual clutter, and sensitivity. Amazing how a little kindness goes such a long way.

Thank goodness for the MRI tech who wished you a rapid recovery.


I know what you mean about family members not believing we have a chronic illness. My late brother who i loved very much…at the beginning of my dizzy illness in 1992…he was supportive and compassionate for the first 4-5 years or so but gradually began to become frustrated with me and asked me why i’m not getting better? Plus he would say “Your just like mom was…your looking for attention”. This use to upset me because that is the farthest thing i wanted was attention. Even when he passed away 2 years ago…he continued to believe that i was making all of this up.

I continue to work Part-Time as a Substitute at a Non-Profit Agency working with Mentally Challenged Adults. Many of my Co-Workers every now and then continue to ask me…“why don’t i apply full-time”? I have told them numerous times about my condition and yet it’s like they keep forgetting i have this dizzy condition. We have an invisible illness…so people just don’t get it. If you have a broken arm with a cast…you will get more compassion.


You are so right!
Ironically, when I saw my ENT a couple of weeks ago, I told him I’d rather have a broken leg with a cast: I’d get sympathy, no one would expect more from me than I can give, and there would be an expected healing.
I think people run out of sympathy, and it’s so painful and adds to the frustration.
I also have the constant pressure to work more and get better–from work.
We are doing the best that we can.

Walk with a cane. Then it won’t be invisible.


:slight_smile: or we could design t-shirts

Tatoo it on our foreheads??? :oops: