Somatoform vertigo: Vertigo without physical cause

Sometimes, no physical cause of vertigo can be found, even though the physical symptoms are severe. Here, we talk about somatoform vertigo (from Greek: soma = body) or psychogenic vertigo, which basically is a group of vertigo afflictions where the psyche plays an important role.

Somatoform vertigo: Vertigo without physical cause

Somatoform vertigo can manifest itself as non-directional rotational and/or postural vertigo. If associated with typical mental or emotional disorders, symptoms other than vertigo itself could be e.g. rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea or shaking (in the case of anxiety disorders and phobias) or sleep disorders and headaches (in the case of depressions). Neurological and balance tests are often without any significant findings, but it is a general feeling of uncertainty in movements that leads to a subjective fear of falling.

A sub-type of somatoform vertigo is phobic postural vertigo. It falls into the category of the more frequent types of vertigo – 15 percent of all vertigo patients suffer from this type, where a host of additional symptoms can appear. People between the ages 30 to 50 are particularly susceptible to this type of vertigo. The symptoms are often triggered by a previous organic disease with attacks of vertigo. The reason being that the fear of the next attack lingers on even after the underlying cause has been treated and thus aids chronification.

The symptoms of somatoform vertigo can be treated with behavioral therapy. Depression can be treated with medication.