MdDS Makes You Feel Like You Are Still on the Boat

What is Mal de Debarquement Syndrome?

As a neurologist and scientist who studies Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS), I have heard countless stories just like this.

MdDS is a brain disorder

The MdDS phenomenon is the natural result of the human brain adapting to environmental motion. It is, thus, the quintessential neurological disorder.

  • attention
  • emotional control
  • pain modulation, and
  • tolerance to sensory stimuli like light and sound.

What physicians need to know about MdDS

What physicians need to know to distinguish MdDS from other disorders of vertigo or dizziness is that affected individuals feel less of this internal motion when they are actually in motion.

Contributing factors may be triggers for MdDS

Research into MdDS has shown that factors related to the aging brain, hormonal changes, and stress contribute to the vulnerability of triggering an episode. One could take 15 cruises in a lifetime and have no problems, but the 16th one could trigger persistent MdDS.

The bottom line

Physicians must play a central role in recognizing this disorder by doing the following:

  • providing counseling,
  • avoiding unnecessary tests, and
  • making appropriate referrals.

[EDITOR’S NOTE] Additional reading from the scientific literature on MdDS

Cha Y, Cui Y, Baloh R. Comprehensive Clinical Profile of Mal De Debarquement Syndrome. Frontiers in Neurology (May 2018) Vol 9, article 261. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5950831/

Yoon-Hee Cha, MD

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