Remenyi says vertigo results from error messages being sent between the ears, eyes, limbs, and brain—so any lifestyle factor that leads to fatigue or overwhelm can trigger vertigo.
Here’s something to think about: like an endless loop or vicious cycle, stress influences vertigo as much as vertigo influences stress, according to Remenyi. “Vertigo symptoms can make patients feel anxious, stressed, self-critical, or stuck in rigid thinking, and all of those feelings are valid.”
In addition, Horowitz says that when we’re stressed, our hormone cortisol increases, which in turn impacts our vestibular system, the part of the brain that controls balance and makes us feel off-kilter, as if we’re on a boat while grounded.
It may seem as though the relationship between stress and vertigo is clear-cut, but Elrakhawy explains why it’s a little more nuanced than experts previously thought. He says the stress response is complex, in that it involves various organs and chemical mediators that are secreted at various times depending on the body’s current state.
He cites a few studies that looked into the relationship between the vestibular system and stress, specifically various stress hormones such as cortisol: