Vertigo is one of the most frequent complaints in general medical practice and is often linked to psychiatric disorders. A longitudinal study of 67 patients with an acute vestibular disorder was undertaken to clarify if, after experiencing acute vestibular vertigo, certain patients have a higher likelihood of developing chronic, debilitating dizziness despite no evidence of a damaged peripheral vestibular system.
The severity of dizziness was determined in 67 patients with vestibular neuronitis, 6 months after their release from hospital, using the Vertigo Symptom Scale from Yardley et al. The intensity of anxiety directly after vertigo was experienced, body-related cognitions, illness coping, personality structure, and the recovery of the organ of equilibrium were recorded in order to explain the severity of vertigo that occurred after 6 months. The function of the organ of equilibrium was assessed by using a caloric test.
Over a period of 6 months, 13 of the 67 patients (19.4%) reported continuing dizziness after neuropathia vestibularis. Eleven of the 13 patients showed high scores on a scale for measuring vertigo-related symptoms, which can be interpreted as being equivalent to anxiety. The variables of gender, catastrophic thoughts and a dependent personality accounted for 35% of why vertigo became chronic.
Neuropathia vestibularis represents a risk factor for the development of chronic vertigo. Chronic vertigo after neuropathia vestibularis appears to be equivalent to anxiety and is partly conditional on catastrophic thoughts at the beginning.
DIPS = Diagnostic Interview of Psychiatric Diagnoses;
VSS = Vertigo Severity Scale;
SA = somatic anxiety;
VS = vertigo severity;
STAI = State Trait Anxiety Inventory;
ACQ = Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire;
BSQ = Body Sensations Questionnaire;
PSSI = Personality Disorder and Type Inventory;
FKV = Freiburg Coping Illness Questionnaire;
MSP = mean slow phases;
OE = organs of equilibrium.