Can Anxiety Cause Slurred Speech?

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Experiencing slurred speech can be alarming, especially when it happens unexpectedly. While it’s natural to think that the cause could be a serious health issue like a stroke, anxiety can also affect your speech.

How does anxiety affect speech at any given time?

When you feel nervous, slurring your words can be common. This happens due to the following body responses:

Increased muscle tension

  • When you’re anxious, your body often responds with increased muscle tension. 1
  • This includes the muscles involved in speech. Tense muscles can affect your ability to articulate words clearly, leading to slurred speech.

Rapid breathing

  • Nervousness can cause you to breathe faster than usual. Rapid breathing affects the rhythm and control of your speech, making it difficult to pronounce words correctly.
  • This irregular breathing pattern can result in slurred or hurried speech.

Dry mouth

  • Anxiety often leads to dry mouth, which can make it difficult to speak clearly. 2
  • Saliva helps with the smooth movement of your tongue and lips, and a lack of it can cause slurred speech.

Cognitive overload

  • Feeling nervous often means your mind is racing with thoughts.
  • This cognitive overload can distract you from focusing on speaking clearly.
  • Your brain might struggle to coordinate the complex speech process, resulting in slurring.

Fight-or-flight response

  • Anxiety disorders trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, releasing adrenaline. 3
  • This response can interfere with fine motor skills, including those needed for clear speech.
  • The adrenaline rush can make it difficult to control your voice and articulation, causing slurred speech.

How do I know that my slurred speech is caused by anxiety?

Determining if your slurred speech is due to anxiety involves recognizing specific signs and patterns:

Occurs during stressful situations

  • If your slurred speech happens mainly during or after stressful events, it’s likely linked to anxiety.
  • Notice if it worsens before presentations or social gatherings.
  • Consistently experiencing slurred speech in these scenarios points to anxiety as the cause.

Accompanied by other anxiety symptoms

  • Anxiety-induced slurred speech often comes with other symptoms like sweating, rapid heartbeat, trembling, and shortness of breath.
  • Noticing these signs together can indicate that anxiety might be the cause.
  • If you frequently experience these symptoms along with slurred speech, anxiety is likely affecting your speech.

Improves with relaxation

  • You may notice your speech improves when you engage in relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or taking a break.
  • This improvement suggests that anxiety might be the underlying cause. 

Normal speech at other times

  • If you speak clearly and normally in relaxed, familiar settings but notice slurring in stressful environments, anxiety is a probable cause.
  • Consistent, clear speech when calm indicates that anxiety affects your articulation.
  • Watching how your speech changes in different situations can give you helpful information.

Feedback from others

  • Sometimes, friends or family might notice that your speech slurs when you’re anxious.
  • Their observations can provide valuable insights and confirm the link between your anxiety and speech issues.
  • Paying attention to feedback from those around you can help you better understand your condition. 

How do I fix slurred speech from anxiety?

Fixing slurred speech from anxiety involves managing anxiety and improving speech clarity. Here are some helpful methods:

Practice relaxation techniques

  • Engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety.
  • These practices calm your nervous system, which can improve your speech.
  • Regular relaxation exercises can make a noticeable difference in speaking under stress.

Slow down your speech

  • When anxious, you might speak faster, leading to slurred words.
  • Consciously slowing down your speech can help you articulate words more clearly, which can be beneficial if anxiety affects your speech pattern.
  • Take your time to pronounce each word, which can reduce the impact of anxiety on your speech.

Stay hydrated

  • Anxiety can cause dry mouth, which affects speech clarity.
  • Drinking water can keep your mouth moist and help you speak more clearly.
  • Carrying a water bottle and sipping regularly can be simple but effective.

Use positive visualization

  • Visualizing yourself speaking clearly and confidently can boost your actual performance.
  • Before engaging in stressful situations, take a few moments to imagine successful communication.
  • This mental preparation can reduce anxiety and improve speech clarity.

Practice mindfulness

  • Mindfulness exercises can help you stay present and reduce the impact of anxious thoughts on your speech.
  • Focus on your breathing and the present moment to keep anxiety at bay.
  • Mindfulness can help you control your speech even when you’re nervous.

Seek professional help

  • If anxiety significantly impacts your speech, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor.
  • They can provide techniques and therapies specifically designed to manage anxiety.
  • Professional guidance can offer personalized strategies to improve both your anxiety and speech.

Join a support group

  • Connecting with others who experience similar issues can provide support and practical advice, especially when dealing with anxiety and slurred speech.
  • Support groups can offer a sense of community and shared experiences. Learning how others manage anxiety-related speech problems can inspire new strategies for you.

Can speech therapy help with slurred speech caused by anxiety?

Speech therapy can be a valuable tool for addressing slurred speech caused by anxiety. Here’s how it can help:

Personalized assessment

  • Speech therapists conduct thorough assessments to understand the specific causes of your slurred speech.
  • They identify whether anxiety is the primary factor and tailor their approach accordingly.
  • This personalized evaluation ensures that the therapy addresses your unique needs.

Targeted exercises

  • Speech therapists provide exercises to improve speech clarity.
  • These exercises focus on breath control, articulation, and pacing, which can be affected by anxiety. 
  • Practicing these exercises regularly can help you gain better control over your speech pattern.

Anxiety management techniques

  • Many speech therapists incorporate anxiety management techniques into their sessions.
  • They teach relaxation methods, breathing exercises, and mindfulness strategies that can reduce anxiety’s impact on your speech.
  • Combining these techniques with speech exercises can lead to significant improvements.

Building confidence

  • Speech therapy can help build your confidence in speaking situations.
  • Therapists often use role-playing and simulated stressful scenarios to practice clear speech in a safe environment.
  • This practice can make you feel more prepared and less anxious in real-life situations.

Continuous support

  • Regular sessions with a speech therapist provide ongoing support and progress monitoring.
  • They can adjust exercises and techniques based on your improvements and challenges.
  • This continuous support ensures you stay on track and make steady progress.

Holistic approach

  • Speech therapists often work with other healthcare providers to offer a holistic approach.
  • They might collaborate with mental health professionals to address both speech and anxiety comprehensively. This integrated care can lead to better overall outcomes.

Other causes of slurred speech

Slurred speech can result from various underlying conditions beyond anxiety. Other causes include:

Neurological disorders

  • Conditions like stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can lead to slurred speech.
  • These disorders affect the brain and nervous system, impairing muscle control and coordination necessary for clear speech.

Alcohol or drug use

  • Intoxication from alcohol or drugs can impair motor skills and coordination, leading to slurred speech.
  • Substance abuse or withdrawal can also cause temporary or persistent speech issues.

Medication side effects

  • Certain medications, especially those affecting the central nervous system, can cause slurred speech as a side effect.
  • Sedatives, muscle relaxants, and some psychiatric medications are common culprits.

Head injury

  • Traumatic brain injuries can damage areas of the brain responsible for speech and motor control.
  • Concussions and other head injuries often result in slurred speech, which may improve as the injury heals.

Muscle weakness

  • Conditions like muscular dystrophy and myasthenia gravis cause muscle weakness, including the muscles involved in speech.
  • This weakness can lead to difficulties in articulation and clarity.


  • Infections such as encephalitis or meningitis can inflame the brain and surrounding tissues, impacting speech, which can sometimes present alongside physical symptoms of anxiety.
  • These infections require immediate medical attention to prevent severe complications, including potential impacts on motor speech functions.

Metabolic imbalances

  • Imbalances in electrolytes or blood sugar levels, often due to diabetes or thyroid disorders, can affect brain function and lead to slurred speech.
  • Proper management of these conditions can help resolve speech issues.

Mental health conditions

  • Severe mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or severe depression, can sometimes lead to speech difficulties, further complicating anxiety and slurred speech scenarios.
  • In these cases, addressing the underlying mental health issue is crucial for improving speech clarity.

Final thoughts

Slurred speech from anxiety can make daily interactions challenging and affect your self-confidence. It’s important to understand that you’re not alone in this experience, and there are ways to find relief.

Managing anxiety can sometimes help with speech clarity, but it also improves your overall well-being. Our specialized anxiety treatment program offers compassionate support to help you navigate these challenges, leading to clearer communication and a better quality of life.

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  1. 1. Im, S., Rushing, B., Wright, A., & Lakhmani, A. (2023). Muscle tension in generalized anxiety disorder during a stressful mental arithmetic task: Direct original research. Research in Developmental Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, 3(1).
  2. 2. Gholami, N., Hosseini Sabzvari, B., Razzaghi, A., & Salah, S. (2017). Effect of stress, anxiety and depression on unstimulated salivary flow rate and xerostomia. Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects, 11(4), 247–252.
  3. 3. Sissons, C. (2023, July 21). What happens when you get an adrenaline rush? Medical News Today.