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Mixing Up Words When Speaking Anxiety Symptoms

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Updated March 20, 2019

Mixed up words when speaking anxiety symptoms description:

Anxiety disorder can cause many problems, including getting words mixed up with speaking. Here are some descriptions of the mixed up words anxiety symptom:

  • When you go to speak, even though you are thinking clearly, it seems when you say the words they come out mixed up, backwards, or flipped around.
  • When speaking you notice that your words get mixed up even though you knew what you wanted to say.
  • Sometimes you find that you mix up your words or that what you said didn’t make sense.
  • You unintentionally mix up your words when speaking.
  • Your words get mixed up frequently and it seems there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
  • When you’ve mixed up your words, others found it funny but you may have become concerned that you might have a mental problem developing.
  • Even though you think through your thoughts carefully, your words get mixed up when you speak them.
  • You find that you are frequently mixing up your words, and this is beginning to bother and worry you.
  • Others may point out that you are mixing up your words when speaking, which you didn’t seem to be aware of.
  • You are getting your words backwards, mixed up, jumbled, and out of correct order.

And so on.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom can affect only certain topics, many topics, or everything you are talking about.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may get your words mixed up once in a while and not that often, get them mixed up off and on, or get them mixed up all the time.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

This mixing up words anxiety symptom can seem much worse when overly stressed, overly anxious, when tired and fatigued, and/or when sleep has been disrupted and/or short.

What causes the mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptoms?

Anxiety (behaving apprehensively) activates the stress response. The stress response (also often referred to as the Emergency Response) immediately causes a number of physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is also often referred to as the fight or flight response.

A part of the stress response changes include a change in brain function where the areas of the brain responsible for dealing with danger increase their activity and the areas of the brain responsible for rationally processing information become suppressed. This change is designed as part of the body’s survival mechanism because it’s better that we react to danger quickly rather than remain in the middle of danger trying to figure things out.

Recovery Support members can read more about the exact physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the ‘Hyperstimulation And Its Effects’ section in Chapter 14.

As a result of these emergency response changes, our awareness and sensitivities to danger are heightened and our ability to rationalize, think clearly, and act clearly are diminished. This is often the reason people seem like they are stunned or like a ‘deer caught in the headlights’ when they are in dangerous situations and/or when overly anxious. It’s not because they are experiencing some sort of mental issue but that being afraid has caused this emergency response change in brain function.

When stress responses are active, we can experience a wide range of abnormal actions, such as mixing up our words when speaking. Many anxious and overly stressed people experience mixing up their words when speaking. Because this is just another symptom of anxiety and/or stress, it needn’t be a need for concern. Mixing up words is not an indication of a serious mental issue. Again, it’s just another symptom of anxiety and/or stress.

Similar to how mixing up words can be caused by an active stress response, it can also occur when the body becomes stress-response hyperstimulated (overly stressed and stimulated). So even though you may not feel anxious or stressed, this symptom can still occur if your body is stress-response hyperstimulated.

Again, Recovery Support members can read more about why anxiety symptoms occur, persist, and why they can take so long to get rid of in the ‘Hyperstimulation And Its Effects’ section in Chapter 14, among other chapters in the Recovery Support area.

How to get rid of the mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptoms?

When the mixing up words anxiety symptoms are caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this symptom should subside and you should return to your normal self. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When the mixing up words anxiety symptoms are caused by hyperstimulation, eliminating the body’s overly stressed state will cause this symptom to diminish and eventually disappear.

Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered from an active stress response or stress-response hyperstimulation, ALL anxiety symptoms diminish and eventually disappear, including the mixing up words when speaking anxiety symptom.

Since mixing up words when speaking is just an indication of stress, an active stress response, and/or hyperstimulation, it needn’t be a cause for concern. It will subside when you’ve successfully addressed your anxiousness, your body’s stress, or your body’s hyperstimulated state.

You can speed up the recovery process by reducing your stress, practicing relaxed breathing, increasing your rest and relaxation, and not worrying about this symptom. Sure, mixing up words when speaking can be unsettling and even bothersome. But again, when your body has recovered from the stress response and/or sustained stress, it will completely disappear.

Tips for more immediate relief from the mixing up words symptom.

In the meantime, there are some things you can do to minimize the mixing up words symptom. For example:

  • Calm yourself before speaking. Calming yourself can bring a reverse to the changes brought about by the stress response. This will allow brain functioning a better chance of returning to normal functioning, which can make it less likely to mix up words.
  • Slow down the pace of your speech so that your words are more deliberate.
  • Speak slowly and evenly when speaking.
  • Take a deep breath and exhale slowly before speaking. This can trigger a natural tranquilizing effect that can reverse the effects of the stress response.
  • Deliberately slow your thinking down. This can result in more deliberate speaking.
  • Take your time with your words. The more rushed and thoughtless you are when speaking, the more likely it is that you might mix up your words.
  • Pause before you speak. Pausing can help you collect your thoughts, which can reduce the likelihood of mixing up words when you speak.
  • Keep your focus on what you are saying rather than thinking of the next thing to say or imagining what the other person will say.
  • Cut yourself some slack. Everyone mixes up words from time to time. This is just part of our imperfect humanness.

While the above tips may not eliminate this symptom entirely in the short-term, it can minimize its effect until the body has returned to normal, non-hyperstimulated health.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry, you may want to connect with one of our anxiety disorder therapists, coaches, or counselors. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to overcome what seems like unmanageable anxiety and symptoms.

For a more detailed explanation about all anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


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