Cognitive and psychological issues in postural tachycardia syndrome

Vidya Raj, Morwenna Opie, Amy C. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is one of the most common forms of chronic orthostatic intolerance. In addition to orthostatic symptoms, many POTS patients report incapacitating cognitive dysfunction or “brain fog” even while lying down or seated. Consistent with these subjective reports, there is accruing objective evidence of specific cognitive difficulties in POTS, with studies showing mild to moderate cognitive impairment using standardized neuropsychological assessment batteries. The precise profile of cognitive dysfunction in POTS patients has been shown to vary among these studies potentially due to the neuropsychological tests used, postural position, comorbidities and length of illness, inclusion of adolescent versus adult patients, and sites of recruitment. The extent of the impact that this cognitive challenge has in patients justifies ongoing investigation and research into lifestyle and pharmacological treatments. Psychologically, patients face challenges congruent with many chronic illnesses, perhaps especially early in adjusting to the condition. POTS patients often exhibit mild to moderate depression symptoms as well as symptoms of anxiety disorders. Since even low levels of anxiety can exacerbate symptoms, and a high number of patients experience sub-clinical low mood and sleep disturbances, there is a likely role for psychotherapy in helping control adjustment-related issues, and possibly aberrant physiology, in POTS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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