Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Slurred Speech?

Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Slurred Speech?

Stress and anxiety are things that many Americans deal with every single day. While some of the effects of stress and anxiety on the body are well known, such as loss of sleep and weight loss, not everyone knows that when stress and anxiety become severe, it can also affect one’s ability to communicate effectively. One of the most common ways that speech can be affected is that speech becomes slurred.

Slurred speech, also referred to as dysarthria, occurs when an individual’s words become jumbled or bleed into each other which can make speech difficult to understand. When the body is under significant distress, the ability of muscles to effectively and efficiently function can be affected. These muscles include those responsible for producing speech and language. In addition, when stress and anxiety are present, the function of the brain to produce coherent thoughts can also be affected.

For many people living with chronic anxiety, slurred speech, as well as issues that resemble slurred speech can be common. If you or someone you love is struggling to communicate as a result of stress and anxiety, get help now by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

How Do Stress and Anxiety Affect Speech?

Some of the potential links between stress and anxiety and slurring of words are:

Overactive Thoughts: One of the most common reasons that some people slur their words is because stress and anxiety can make it hard to focus. Stress can also affect recall and mental accuracy, and severe anxiety can cause an individual to be so far “in their head” that it becomes extremely difficult to get words out and express thoughts and feelings. In some ways, anxiety causes your brain to work too hard, and when it does, some of the other functions your brain needs to execute are negatively affected – such as speaking.

Muscle Tension: Anxiety can also result in significant muscle tension. Muscle tension can make it more difficult to move and manipulate the mouth muscles, which is one of the main causes of slurred speech found in many other conditions that affect speech.

Over-Awareness: stress and anxiety have the ability to make one hyper-aware of what would otherwise be subconscious or automatic behaviors. Over-awareness can be experienced in other areas of life as well – for instance, anxiety can make it more difficult for some people to walk because they’re hyper-aware of the movements in their legs. In the same sense, the movements of the mouth and clarity of speech can also be affected. Speech is considered to be an automatic movement, and during intense bouts of anxiety, the movements of the mouth may be controlled by the individual rather than their subconscious mind, making these movements much harder to execute.

Anxiety Medications: Slurred speech is a common side effect of many different types of medications that are used to treat anxiety and depression. In most cases, this is because these medications also work as muscle relaxants, which in turn can make it harder to effectively move the muscles in your mouth and face.

These are just a few of the reasons that anxiety may be responsible for slurred speech. It is important to note that some occasional slurred speech is normal even in those who don’t experience anxiety. Slurred speech can be remedied through the support and guidance of an experienced speech and language pathologist. Get started on the path to clearer speech by scheduling your free introductory call today! 

Why Do I Slur my Words When I’m Nervous?

Anxiety is a common cause of racing thoughts and faster speech, both of which can make communicating effectively more difficult. People who are anxious or nervous may feel like they can’t keep up with their thoughts and may speak much faster as a result. Speaking at a higher rate of speed often causes one to trip over their words or begin stuttering or slurring.

Can Tiredness Cause Slurred Speech?

Those that are very tired can be more prone to slurred speech simply because their brain is not functioning as optimally as normal. Tiredness (as well as a lack of caffeine for those who consume a lot of coffee or caffeinated products or other issues that may affect alertness) slows the brain down to the point where muscles may not be able to work effectively. A lack of sleep can alter the brain to such a point that an individual may sound intoxicated and significantly slur their words when they speak. 

How Do I Fix Slurred Speech?

When trying to improve the clarity and fluidity of speech, it is important to identify the underlying cause. If anxiety or stress is the culprit, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about what might help these conditions. Taking time to see an experienced speech and language pathologist is also an incredibly valuable resource when it comes to improving speech and communication, regardless of the cause. 

Does Depression Cause Slurred Speech?

Depression can affect speech in several ways. Studies have shown that depression can change patterns of speech in individuals. Often their speech may become deeper in tone, monotone, more labored, and may have more starts, stops, and pauses. As depression progresses, speech may become more gravelly, hoarse, or less fluid. Research has also shown that as individuals respond to treatments and medications, their speech patterns often return to normal. It is important to note that the underlying issue of depression should always be addressed as a top priority while working to regain speech.

How Can Speech Therapy Help with Slurred Speech due to Stress and Anxiety?

While it’s very important to talk with your doctor about what is causing slurred speech, slurred speech as a result of anxiety is not dangerous. A speech-language pathologist will be able to help you improve and strengthen your communication abilities. By developing a custom treatment plan that may include:

  • Increasing movement of the tongue and lips.
  • Strengthening of speech muscles.
  • Slowing the rate of speech.
  • Improving breathing for louder speech.
  • Improving articulation for clearer speech.
  • Practicing social and group communication skills.
  • Role-playing and testing your communication skills in real-life situations.

It is important to note that there isn’t a specific treatment for slurred speech simply because slurred speech can be a response to many underlying conditions. One thing that is very important to do, however, is to avoid forcing the words out. If your speech is slurred, forcing yourself to speak or get the words out can add more stress. Speech and language pathologists are experts when it comes to helping people improve the quality of their speech. You don’t have to struggle with the clarity and fluidity of your speech on top of challenges with stress and anxiety. Get help today by scheduling your free introductory call now!