Utility of psychological screening for the diagnosis of pediatric episodic vertigo.


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Childhood episodic vertigo has been reported to be associated with migraine or childhood periodic syndromes such as benign paroxysmal vertigo of childhood. There is discrete evidence that unexpected recurrent vertigo is associated with a high level of depression and anxiety in adults. However, only a few studies describe the frequency and characteristics of psychiatric comorbidity in vertiginous children. The aim of this study is to evaluate the incidence and characteristics of emotional and behavioral problems using outpatient-based psychological screening tools in children with episodic vertigo attacks. METHODS: A total of 105 patients and 138 controls, aged 4 to 17 years, were enrolled. All were identified with a primary complaint of recurrent episodic vertigo. All patients received a complete battery of audiological and vestibular tests. Psychological assessment was performed using standardized questionnaires, including Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI), and Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED). RESULTS: Compared with community controls, children presenting vertigo attacks had significantly higher mean scores on almost all scales of SDQ, CDI, and SCARED, except two parameters, namely, prosocial behavior and separation anxiety. About half of the patients, compared to 10 to 11% of the controls, had significant levels of distress that could adversely impact treatment outcomes and might need psychiatric consultation. Significant distress or impairment in social interactions was more prominent in older ages. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that children/adolescents with recurrent episodic vertigo should be screened for possible associated psychological symptoms.