Ask the Experts

So Anxious I’m Groping for Words

“I have trouble finding words when I try to speak. I’m so anxious about being interrupted by other people that I blurt out words that don’t fit my ideas, are inappropriate, or do not contribute to the conversation. What can I do?”

Social anxiety and stress can worsen our ADHD symptoms. It can make us even more forgetful and tongue-tied!

What many of us don’t realize is that we tend to hold our breath, or breathe faster, and tense up when we are anxious. Stress-management techniques like taking deep breaths while relaxing your shoulders, jaw, or forehead — or wherever you feel tense — can help.

[Panic Buttons: Identifying Anxiety’s Triggers]

You can give yourself extra time to think by saying, “It’s hard to find the words to express my thoughts on that, but my initial reaction was (pause).” By then, the right word may have come, or someone else in the conversation may offer up a word or two, to which you can agree with or respond by saying, “Sort of… but not quite what I mean.”

To participate and feel a part of a conversation doesn’t always require expressing our own thoughts. Asking questions is a great way to keep in the loop — and this can sometimes be easier than finding the right words to convey our ideas.