Anxiety and chronic dizziness. At different times during my experience with panic disorder, I've gone through periods where I felt dizzy frequently. Unsteady on my feet, even. Like being hungover without having had anything to drink. Imagining at the time that what I was feeling was something akin to vertigo -- some kind of disturbance of my sense of balance -- I'd go to doctors hoping that having my ears cleaned out would eliminate my dizziness. I got to see some really nasty, marble-sized balls of earwax as a result, but clearing out my ears never made the dizziness go suddenly away.
I had no idea that this feeling was at all common among panic sufferers, but as this details, anxiety can cause chronic dizziness. From the article:
“Patients with this syndrome have chronic nonspecific dizziness, subjective imbalance and hypersensitivity to motion stimuli, which are exacerbated in complex visual environments (e.g., walking in a busy store, driving in the rain),” the authors write. Some researchers have proposed the term chronic subjective dizziness for this condition.
Jeffrey P. Staab, M.D., M.S., and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, studied 345 men and women age 15 to 89 (average age 43.5) who had dizziness for three months or longer due to unknown causes. From 1998 to 2004, the patients were tracked from their referral to a balance center through multiple specialty examinations until they were given a diagnosis.
...Anxiety disorders were associated with 60 percent of the chronic dizziness cases.
That "complex environments" thing is spot-on. Even now, when I'm not experiencing any kind of chronic dizziness, the old vertigo-like feeling can kick in when I'm somewhere loud or busy like a shopping mall or a crowded party or driving on certain particularly stimulus-heavy stretches of road.