The Longitudinal Effect of Vertigo and Dizziness Symptoms on Psychological Distress: Symptom-Related Fears and Beliefs as Mediators

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Abstract

Despite the frequent observation that vertigo and dizziness (VD) disorders may trigger or exacerbate secondary psychiatric comorbidities, there is limited understanding of the mechanisms underlying this development. To address this gap, we investigated whether symptom-related fears and cognitions as indicated by questionnaire-based measures are mediators of the longitudinal effect of VD symptoms on anxiety and depression after 1 year. We analyzed data from a large study with patients of a treatment center specialized in vertigo (N = 210). Simple and multiple parallel mediation models strengthened our hypothesis that fear of bodily sensations and cognitions about these symptoms play a mediating role in the relationship between VD symptoms and psychopathology at follow-up after baseline scores of the outcome were controlled for. Results are discussed within a cognitive theory framework and point to the potential benefits of interventions that modify symptom-related beliefs and fears via cognitive psychotherapy in this therapeutically underserved population.

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