Depression and Dizziness: What is the Link?

In this article, I discuss how depression and dizziness can be related.

Depression can Contribute to Dizziness and Imbalance

Patients who are experiencing depression may present with self-neglect and may fail to take medications properly. People with depression also may eat and drink inconsistently and reduce their activity levels.

Many of these specific problems with self-care that arise from depression can contribute to dizziness and imbalance.

Depression is common among older adults, ranging from mild to major depression. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling depressed.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing depression, be sure that all medications are taken as prescribed. Also, seek appropriate medical care for symptoms of depression.

In half of all clinical trials for older adults with depression, anti-depressant medications were found to be no better than placebo. This suggests that strategies besides meds to relieve depression may be needed for older adults who are suffering.

You can find local support groups to talk about what you are going through. It is important to overcome social isolation by calling a friend or attending a group activity.

Exercise at least twice a week to improve serotonin levels. You can also participate in laughter as an exercise for mood elevation.

Patients with depression are less likely to adhere to a medical treatment plan. This leads to worse outcomes with medical care and physical therapy.

For my patients who are suffering from vertigo and dizziness, I recommend that a dedicated family member or caregiver is involved with their care. This strategy will ensure compliance with the home exercise program and attendance at all scheduled appointments.

Depression should not be overlooked or ignored, since it can contribute to dizziness, imbalance, and a reduced quality of life in general.

Dizziness and Imbalance can Contribute to Depression

Depression may also result from chronic complaints of dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance, especially in patients without a proper vestibular assessment due to prolonged general discomfort and reduced activity levels.

If untreated, depression in patients with dizziness, vertigo, and persistent imbalance may lead to suicidal ideation.

If you are caring for someone with chronic complaints of depression, remain alert for signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation. Patients expressing suicidal ideation require emergency medical intervention.

You can call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room for help with suicidal ideation. You can also call your local suicide prevention hotline, if you need help or guidance regarding severe depression or suicidal thoughts.

In order to reduce the likelihood of depression in patients with chronic dizziness, I recommend consulting a Vestibular physical therapist or doctor.

This article may help you find a vestibular provider in your area.


This blog is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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