Mind out of balance, body out of balance

January 22, 2009,

Many of the 40 million American adults who suffer from anxiety disorders also have problems with balance. As increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with anxiety, Tel Aviv University researchers have discovered that the link between balance and anxiety can be assessed at an early age - and that something can be done about it before it becomes a problem.

Dr. Orit Bart at Tel Aviv University's School of Health Professions, and her colleagues, have found that a simple course of physical treatment for balance problems can also resolve anxiety issues in children. Her work offers new hope for normal social and emotional development for children with both disorders.

Establishing the Connection

Anxiety has a significant impact on children's personal and academic well-being. While not all kids with anxiety have balance problems, all those with balance problems do exhibit symptoms of anxiety, pointing to a link between the two conditions.
"This is a breakthrough in the field of occupational therapy," says Dr. Bart.

Her study -- done in collaboration with TAU researchers Yair Bar-Haim, Einat Weizman, Moran Levin, Avi Sadeh, and Matti Mintz, and to be published in Research in Developmental Disabilities -- investigated the anxiety-balance connection in young children for the first time. Dr. Bart tracked children between the ages of five and seven who had been diagnosed with both problems to see how treatment would affect each disorder.

After a 12-week intervention of sensory-motor intervention, the children in Dr. Bart's study improved their balance skills. The therapy also reduced the children's anxiety to normal levels, she reports. As their balance and anxiety issues improved, the children's self-esteem also increased.

Treating the Mind Through the Body

"You can't treat children with anxiety in a cognitive way because of their immaturity and lack of operational thinking. Working with the body may be the answer," Dr. Bart explains. The treatment therefore focused on letting the children use equipment to experience their environment and move in space. Dr. Bart found that by working with their bodies, children could work through their emotional problems, including anxiety.

Dr. Bart is now working on expanding the initial results through a larger study with more control groups. The goal is to explore the exact nature of the relationship between balance and anxiety in children, and to focus the results on more specific treatment types.

"Young children who have anxiety should first be assessed for balance issues to see if that is the source of the problem," says Dr. Bart. "We can now treat these children because we have a better understanding of the relation between these disorders."

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Explore further: Helping teens turn off in a world that's 'always on': The links between technology and depression

Related Stories

Helping teens turn off in a world that's 'always on': The links between technology and depression

December 27, 2017
The problem with teens and smart phones, experts say, is "they're always on."

Parents' demanding jobs put children's mental health at risk

December 6, 2017
Jobs that are overly demanding at the expense of family time put the mental health of employees' children at risk, a new study led by ANU has found.

Potential new autism drug shows promise in mice

November 14, 2017
Scientists have performed a successful test of a possible new drug in a mouse model of an autism disorder. The candidate drug, called NitroSynapsin, largely corrected electrical, behavioral and brain abnormalities in the ...

Helping children manage back-to-school anxiety

August 30, 2013
For children, August means the end of summer and the start of a new school year. That can make many kids nervous and worried.

Kids' anxiety, depression halved when parenting styled to personality

August 1, 2011
When it comes to rearing children, just about any parent will say that what works with one kid might not work with another. Parents use all sorts of strategies to keep kids from being cranky, grumpy, fearful or moody, while ...

Tight family budget may lessen impact of food commercials on children

May 12, 2015
Young children in households with no financial restraints may be at risk for poor eating habits by watching television commercials about fast food, sugary drinks and salty snacks.

Recommended for you

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.