Balance and Bipolar – Are They Connected?

New research may have found a link between motor function and mood. Previous studies have shown that people suffering with mental issues such as bipolar, schizophrenia and other mood problems, often have difficulty with postural control and balance. The findings from this new research may determine a clear connection between the two and may lead the way for preventive screenings that could predict if someone will develop one of these psychological issues.

“For a number of psychological disorders, many different psychiatric treatments and therapies have been tried, with marginal effects over the long term. Researchers are really starting to look at new targets,” said Bolbecker, research scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Our study suggests that brain areas traditionally believed to be responsible for motor behavior might represent therapeutic targets for bipolar disorder.”

The study addressed the brain regions responsible for motor control and mood. Researchers evaluated participants’ postural sway, the minor adjustments made while trying to stand in one position, while they maintained various positions with eyes closed and with eyes open. “It appears that people with bipolar disorder process sensory information differently and this is seen in their inability to adapt their movement patterns to different conditions, such as eyes open vs. eyes closed or feet together vs. feet apart,” said Hong. “The different conditions will cause people to use the information their senses provide differently, in order to allow them to maintain their balance.”

The results showed that those with bipolar had increased postural sway with their eyes closed, and had less control over side-to-side posture, which uses the hips rather than the ankles. The researchers believe that people with bipolar may have underdeveloped side postural control involving their hips, which is in alignment with developmental markers for the presence of bipolar.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • oliver


    May 27th, 2011 at 4:32 AM

    What an interesting theory to pursue. I am often amazed at the studies that one comes up with to look into. I am the one always wanting to know who even thought first that there could be enough of a connection between these two areas to study them so intensely?

  • Meg


    May 27th, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    My aunt has bipolar and after a major bipolar episode she developed vertigo-dizziness–and she still has it. The neurologist couldn’t find any cause and we wondered if it was tied to her mental condition. I have also heard from two other people with bipolar that they have had vertigo episodes.

  • Mary Young

    Mary Young

    May 27th, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I have been diagnosed w/ BPD and have always had multiple bruises due to running into things. I’m very accident prone.

  • LUKE


    May 27th, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    More trouble for people with bipolar.Not only are they less understood for their problem but now we realize that they have even more problems than we may have known in the past.I just hope this problem of posture can be negated through maybe physiotherapy or something.

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