Posted on October 5, 2009 by
Dizziness: anxiety, health care utilization and health behavior–results from a representative German community survey.
Clinic of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany.
BACKGROUND: Due to the lack of epidemiological data on the relation of dizziness and anxiety, we investigated the prevalence of dizziness and anxiety in a representative sample of the German population. We explored the consequences of comorbid anxiety for emotional distress, functional impairment, health care utilization, and health behavior in dizziness. METHODS: By the end of 2006, we surveyed a total of 1287 persons between 14 and 90 years of age in their homes by trained interviewers with standardized self-rating questionnaires on anxiety (Patient Health Questionnaire, Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, Mini-Social Phobia Inventory) and dizziness (Vertigo Symptom Scale). The sample was representative for the German population in terms of age, sex, and education. RESULTS: Symptoms of dizziness were reported by 15.8% of the participants. Of the participants with dizziness, 28.3% reported symptoms of at least one anxiety disorder (generalized anxiety, social phobia, panic). Persons with dizziness reported more somatic problems such as hypertension, migraine, diabetes, etc. Comorbid anxiety was associated with increased health care use and impairment. CONCLUSION: Dizziness is a highly prevalent symptom in the general population. A subgroup with comorbid anxiety is characterized by an increased subjective impairment and health care utilization due to their dizziness. Because treatment options for distinct neurotologic disorders are also known to reduce psychological symptoms, and in order to avoid unnecessary medical treatment, early neurologic and psychiatric/psychotherapeutic referral may be indicated.