Can anxiety cause stuttering

The Link Between Social Anxiety and Stuttering | Heuser Hearing Institute

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Recent research has shown a link between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and childhood-onset fluency disorder (stuttering), with a rate of overlap as high as 75 percent.

What Is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder is more than simply being nervous or shy. SAD, also known as a social phobia, causes people to avoid all social contact because certain aspects of everyday interactions, like small talk and eye contact, make them so uncomfortable.

Symptoms of SAD are triggered by social interactions, and may include:

  • Fear of being judged, embarrassed, humiliated or offending someone
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms may occur when thinking about social interactions, during social interactions or even after social interactions have passed.

What Is Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder?

Stuttering is a speech disorder that causes problems with fluency and speech flow. People who stutter know what they are trying to say but have a difficult time getting the words out. While common in young children learning how to speak, the condition can persist into adulthood without early intervention.

Symptoms of stuttering include:

  • Trouble starting a word, phrase or sentence
  • Prolonging sounds within a word
  • Repetition of a sound, syllable or word
  • Silence between syllables or words
  • Addition of filler words
  • Tension or tightness in the face

While less common, stuttering can be accompanied by:

  • Rapid eye blinks
  • Tremors of the lips or jaw
  • Facial tics
  • Head jerks
  • Clenched fists

The Link Between Stuttering & SAD

It is important to note that, while feelings of stress, anxiety or embarrassment are common for people who stutter, SAD is not diagnosed unless these symptoms are debilitating to some degree and occur for reasons beyond the stutter.

While the nature of the link between these conditions is unclear, studies have shown that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a role in both stuttering and SAD. In fact, a higher rate of SAD has been found in people with Parkinson’s disease, a disorder involving dopamine production.

Neuroimaging has also shown that people with SAD and a stutter have abnormalities in their dopamine D2 receptor and process dopamine differently than people without these disorders. The amygdala may also play a role in SAD and stuttering.

Treatment Options

Speech therapy with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is the standard treatment for stuttering and other speech disorders. SAD is often treated with medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). People with both conditions benefit greatly from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

For more information about the link between stuttering and social anxiety disorder, contact the experts at Heuser Hearing Institute today at (502) 584-3573.  

Learn More About Speech Disorders

  • What is a Speech Disorder?
  • Breaking Down the Different Speech Disorders
  • When Should You See a Speech Pathologist?


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Stuttering in relation to anxiety, temperament, and personality: review and analysis with focus on causality

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. 2014 Jun;40:5-21.

doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Feb 8.

Per A Alm  1



  • 1 Department of Neuroscience, Speech and Language Pathology, Uppsala University, Sweden. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 24929463
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2014.01.004


Per A Alm. J Fluency Disord. 2014 Jun.

. 2014 Jun;40:5-21.

doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Feb 8.


Per A Alm  1


  • 1 Department of Neuroscience, Speech and Language Pathology, Uppsala University, Sweden. Electronic address: [email protected].
  • PMID: 24929463
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2014.01.004


Anxiety and emotional reactions have a central role in many theories of stuttering, for example that persons who stutter would tend to have an emotionally sensitive temperament. The possible relation between stuttering and certain traits of temperament or personality were reviewed and analyzed, with focus on temporal relations (i.e., what comes first). It was consistently found that preschool children who stutter (as a group) do not show any tendencies toward elevated temperamental traits of shyness or social anxiety compared with children who do not stutter. Significant group differences were, however, repeatedly reported for traits associated with inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, which is likely to reflect a subgroup of children who stutter. Available data is not consistent with the proposal that the risk for persistent stuttering is increased by an emotionally reactive temperament in children who stutter. Speech-related social anxiety develops in many cases of stuttering, before adulthood. Reduction of social anxiety in adults who stutter does not in itself appear to result in significant improvement of speech fluency. Studies have not revealed any relation between the severity of the motor symptoms of stuttering and temperamental traits. It is proposed that situational variability of stuttering, related to social complexity, is an effect of interference from social cognition and not directly from the emotions of social anxiety. In summary, the studies in this review provide strong evidence that persons who stutter are not characterized by constitutional traits of anxiety or similar constructs.

Educational objectives: This paper provides a review and analysis of studies of anxiety, temperament, and personality, organized with the objective to clarify cause and effect relations. Readers will be able to (a) understand the importance of effect size and distribution of data for interpretation of group differences; (b) understand the role of temporal relations for interpretation of cause and effect; (c) discuss the results of studies of anxiety, temperament and personality in relation to stuttering; and (d) discuss situational variations of stuttering and the possible role of social cognition.

Keywords: ADHD; Anxiety; Social cognition; Stuttering; Temperament.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Speech anxiety and fear of speech.

Children's fears, as a rule, are quite specific and for the most part are related to what threatens the life of the child or someone on whom his life depends, for example, parents. With speech, the child develops a more complex relationship. Since speech is not given to a person along with life, the child cannot feel the loss of what else; does not own or owns only to a small extent. In addition, the quality of speech has little effect on the ability to satisfy his vital needs. Only as new, purely human needs are formed, including the need for communication, in obtaining new knowledge, the value of speech increases significantly. nine0003

The emergence of feelings about the quality of one's own speech can be detected already in young children.

But even those who do not have speech impairments may be concerned about the quality of their speech.

Anxiety about one's speech can change in stutterers depending on different circumstances. So, for example, with increasing age, it is observed; growth, however, as well as the growth of general anxiety.

The severity of speech anxiety depends on the severity of the speech disorder: the more pronounced the stuttering, the higher the anxiety. nine0003

Many stutterers, as they develop anxiety about their speech, begin to identify this anxiety with stuttering itself. But with additional questions, it usually turns out that fear is not caused by stuttering itself, but by a possible attitude towards them due to bad speech. Therefore, the degree of experience is largely related to who is the communication partner. And here fear can be very selective, individual.

There is a classification of stuttering according to the degree of fixation on its defect. Fixation on its defect; this is a reflection of an objectively existing speech defect (speech stuttering) in all the psychological activity of a stuttering person. This is the result of the processes of obtaining and processing information about speech difficulties and related troubles, transformed in the mental processes, states and properties of a stutterer and manifested in his interaction with the surrounding social environment. nine0003

There are three degrees of painful fixation on one's defect:

(zero) Indifference to one's defect, combined with a lack of willpower in the fight against it.

At this degree, they do not experience infringement from the consciousness of their inferior speech or even do not notice this inferiority at all. These stutterers willingly come into contact with acquaintances and strangers.

There are no elements of embarrassment, resentment for one's wrong speech. nine0003

(moderate) Moderately restrained attitude towards one's defect, combined with the presence of strong-willed efforts in the fight against it.

At this degree, unpleasant experiences are experienced in connection with stuttering, stuttering is hidden, compensated by speech tricks.

Nevertheless, awareness of one's own shortcomings and experiences do not result in a constant painful feeling of one's own inferiority.

(expressed) Hopelessly-desperate attitude towards one's defect and the presence of such strong-willed efforts in the fight against it, which develop into obsessive actions and states.

With this degree, stutterers constantly focus on their speech failures, deeply and for a long time experience them. These stutterers make all their activities dependent on speech failures. They are characterized by withdrawal into illness, self-abasement, morbid suspiciousness, obsessive thoughts and a pronounced fear of speech. nine0003

With age (or with the experience of stuttering) in stutterers, the degree of fixation on their defect tends to become more complicated.

The positive results of speech therapy work with stutterers are naturally inversely related to the complexity of their fixation on their defect (the greater the fixation, the lower the result). It is the different degree of fixation on one's defect, and not the experience of stuttering, not its severity, that determines the different results of speech therapy work. nine0003

The severity of stuttering is adequate to the degree of fixation on one's defect.

Fear of speech communication with an obsessive expectation of speech failures - logophobia.

A kind of vicious circle is formed when convulsive hesitations in speech cause strong negative emotional reactions, which intensifies speech disorders. In the end, for most stutterers, speech becomes a source of constant mental trauma. All this causes increased exhaustion (both mental and verbal), fatigue and contributes to the development of pathological character traits. nine0003

Gradually, some stutterers begin to avoid speech loads, sharply limit speech contacts (passive form of compensation), others, on the contrary, become aggressive, obsessive in communication (hypercompensation phenomenon).

With age, logophobia in some cases acquires a particularly significant place in the picture of stuttering, is of an obsessive nature and arises at the mere thought of the need for verbal communication or with memories of verbal failures in the past. In this state, stutterers often do not say what they would like to say, but only what is easier to say. nine0003

Sent by Natalya Bakumova.

‹ Why stuttering is corrected when singing Top

How can one overcome the fear of speech? Is this provided for in the work according to the method of L.Z. Harutyunyan?

How can one overcome the fear of speech? Is this provided for in the work according to the method of L.Z. Harutyunyan?

You are here: [email protected]

Your city is Moscow?


We work in the center and online. Meeting with a speech therapist by appointment, please leave a request on the website. nine0003

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Select city: Moscow Izhevsk Nizhny Novgorod Novokuznetsk Tolyatti Ufa

Speech center "Arlilia"

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Publication date: 07/29/2022

“In order to understand how to get rid of the fear of speech (logophobia), you need to understand the causes of its occurrence. Logophobia is a natural human feeling that arises as a response to a negative communication experience, and arises as you become aware of yourself as a stutterer, therefore, in the early stages, when the child has not yet realized the problem, there is no fear of speech.

The reason for awareness is any remarks about imperfect speech, forcing attention to be fixed on the act of speech. This can be an offensive reaction of classmates to an answer in class, or even a completely friendly request to calm down and take your time from loved ones, and sometimes just anxiety in their eyes at the moment of stuttering. All this causes a strong emotional reaction: "I'm not like everyone else, I look funny, I can't cope with the situation." In this regard, there is a completely natural desire to hide the defect, which becomes the main reason that supports logophobia. Indeed, when there is a desire and need to hide something, and a person is not able to hide, there is a feeling of excitement, tension, shame for one's speech and, as a result, fear of speech. nine0003

Fear of speech cannot be considered a manifestation of the weakness of the personality, one should not be ashamed of it, one should not be afraid of fear and scold oneself for fear. Despite stuttering, you should try to lead an active lifestyle as much as possible. Sports, studies, hobbies, communication with friends - all this helps, despite stuttering, to practice communication and resists fear, helps to reduce its level. Western experts, for example, are following this path. They do not aim to defeat stuttering (they do not have such means), but they try to teach a person to live fully, to communicate, despite the speech problem. This work is bearing fruit, because reduces the level of fear and, as a result, makes the problem less acute. nine0003

We are going the other way. Complex technique L.Z. Harutyunyan (Andronova) aims to defeat stuttering completely and forever. In the concept of “overcoming stuttering”, we put not only the fight against speech inconsistencies (stammering, spasms, stupor), but with the internal psychological component of stuttering (the desire to hide the defect, tricks, fears, obsessive thoughts). We understand that it is the inner, hidden from the eyes, component of stuttering that is truly dangerous and, if not eradicated, can lead to a relapse of stuttering. Speech work is built in such a way that gradually, step by step, a person wins back not only his speech from stuttering, but he certainly overcomes fears, and in return accumulates a sense of peace at the moment of speech, instead of an "anxiety reflex" forms a "calm reflex". This direction is the basis of the work of stuttering specialists in our speech center.” nine0003


Lilia Zinovievna Harutyunyan (Andronova)

(author of the methodology, professor, supervisor and consultant of the Arlilia Center)


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