Anxiety Related Fainting &Vasovagal Syncope
It is not uncommon for people to feel light-headed when they are anxious but, in most cases, this is due to the effects of increased respiration and is associated with an increase in blood pressure. In this form of anxiety actually fainting or passing out is extremely rare despite the fact that the vertigo or dizzy feelings can make the person fear they will.
Nonetheless there is a unique form of anxiety which is seen primarily in “Blood-Injury Phobia” which can lead to an opposite reaction (i.e. decreased respiration and decreased blood pressure) and where an individual will sometimes actually faint from their anxiety reaction. This opposite effect is the result of a process known as “vasovagal syncope”. Blood-Injury Phobia refers to a condition where people fear the sight of blood, injections, or seeing others injured etc.
This form of anxiety can be very effectively treated with a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) involving a combination of desensitisation techniques and “Applied Tension”. Applied tension is a procedure opposite to the sort of relaxation techniques used in other forms of anxiety such as panic attacks (see panic attacks). Instead of teaching people to relax their body in response to anxiety. sufferers of vasovagal syncope are taught to apply tension and increase blood pressure in their feared situations.
However some individuals experience both forms of anxiety – i.e. increased physiological arousal (such as a panic attack) in some situations and vasovagal syncope in others. Hence it is important that they consult an experienced CBT-trained psychologist to learn the appropriate techniques to apply in specific contexts.
Rebates of $110 per 50 minute consultation are now available to those with appropriate referrals. See “Fees & Medicare” section.
For CBT treatment of anxiety-related fainting problems in the Sydney area please call:
(02) 9621 7775 or make an appointment online.
Disclaimer: This page provides general information only and should not be relied on for treatment. You should speak to a Psychologist to clarify the nature of any problems you have and the most appropriate treatment.