Balance dysfunction in childhood anxiety: Findings and theoretical approach

Orit Erez, Carlos R. Gordon, Jonathan Sever, Avi Sadeh, Matti Mintz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

A recent special issue of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, reviewed the experimental and clinical findings related to comorbidity of balance disorders and anxiety [J. Anxiety Disord. 15 (2001) 1.]. The studies mentioned in that issue were based mostly on adult subjects but prevalence of balance disorders in childhood anxiety is yet to be established. We have tested a small sample of children diagnosed for general or separation anxiety disorder and a control group of normal children. Extensive neurological examination revealed no clinically relevant vestibular impairment. Nevertheless, detailed questionnaires and balance tests confirmed an excessive sensitivity of anxiety disordered children to balance-challenging situations. Moreover, balance-challenging tasks triggered more balance mistakes and slower performance in anxiety versus control children. These findings support the notion of subclinical balance disorder in childhood anxiety. Results are discussed in terms of the two-stage theory of learning, which predicts that anxiety disorder may be an offshoot of lasting balance dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-356
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2004

Keywords

  • Balance disorder
  • Balance tasks
  • Childhood anxiety
  • Classical conditioning
  • Emotional conditioning
  • Motor conditioning
  • Two-stage theory of learning
  • Vestibular impairment

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