Dizziness, one of the Top 10 reasons that people visit doctors, is caused by psychiatric disorders in about half the cases, a study of 75 patients has found.
People who had no diagnosable inner ear problem had dramatically higher rates of major depression, panic disorder or somatization, the ability to convert a troubling mental state into a body symptom, said Dr. Michael R. Clark of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore.
These people are no less incapacitated than patients with a physical problem but often they are dismissed by physicians with no treatment, Clark reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
"They don't get better and they keep coming back," he said. "Meanwhile, they suffer and they're definitely disabled -- they may not be able to go to work, to have normal relationships with others.
"If you treat the psychiatric disorder, you find that either their physical complaints are greatly reduced, don't preoccupy them as much or completely go away."