Mixing up words when you speak can be a symptom of anxiety. You may find that when you go to speak, your thoughts are clear, but that when you speak the words come out jumbled, mixed up, flipped around or backwards. This might happen even if you knew what you wanted to say, and you may not even realise that you have jumbled up words until someone points it out.
Why Can Anxiety Cause Me To Mix Up Words When Speaking?
As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases the stress chemicals cortisol and adrenaline and activates the stress response called the fight, flight or freeze response.
The stress response changes your brain function by increasing the activity of the parts of the brain which deal with danger and decreasing activity in the part of the brain that deals with processing information. As a result, your awareness and sensitivity to danger is increased, but your ability to rationally think clearly and act clearly is reduced. This is why, when we are anxious or stressed, we can jumble up words.
Also, if you experience stress and anxiety frequently, you can develop chronic stress, also known as hyperstimulation, which is when your stress response is on high alert for a prolonged period of time, long after the perceived threat has passed. This means that you may jumble up words even if you don’t think you’re anxious and stressed, because you are in a hyperstimulated state.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
As this symptom stems from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing, adopting anxiety-reducing breathing techniques, such as controlled diaphragmatic breathing or box breathing. This should calm our central nervous system, distract our mind from the perceived threat, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our rational brain to kick back in and regain a semblance of control and feel the black cloud lift.
Though this will help short-term, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety and stress occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety and stress. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.