I'm starting to stutter. Should I be concerned?

Mods, my apologies in advance if this belongs Someplace Else.

So, I’m a 26-year-old guy in reasonably good health (okay, so I’m overweight, but hitting the gym for the past few months has definitely helped!) but I’ve noticed that for about the past year or so (prior to, and so I’m assuming, unrelated to the gym thing), I’ve started to pick up a bit of a stutter. I’ve never had problems with this in the past, but recently I’ve inexplicably started tripping over words – it happens maybe 2-3 times/day. I’ll be chatting with somebody at work and then all of a sudden I won’t be able to get a series of words out. I pause, recompose myself, and then I’m able to say whatever was tripping me up without issue.

I haven’t been munching on paint chips or entering myself into carnie boxing matches, and I can’t recall any major traumas that would be obvious factors.

What can cause this? My doc said that it’s probably nothing to worry about, especially with this low a frequency, but I’m a hypochondriac… and I’m also starting to get a bit of a reputation as a stutterer. :frowning: What do you guys think?

Stuttering is a normal reaction to unspoken, unconsious stress. Or very outspoken, rip your hair out stress. I would think it is nothing to worry about. Maybe a time to reflect upon yourself, and current happenings in your life.

And thank you for the word for the day. Carnie - I haven’t heard that word since watching Robert Redford in The Natural.

No. The University of Iowa professor (his name escapes me at the moment), who was a stutterer and one of the leading experts on the subject had a good method for helping stutterers. He recorded the speech of so-called normal speakers and played them back to stutteres to show them just how much stuttering is done by “normal” speakers in ordinary conversation. Its just that they don’t worry about it and so it isn’t a problem.

It was Wendell Johnson

I go through periods (of two or three weeks at a time) like that. Generally it’s just that my thoughts are getting a little too far ahead of my mouth and then I’ll hit a “speed bump” and start stuttering or stammer. Usually a product of stress, excitement, fatigue, or lack of focus (like when I’m doing several things at once so I’m a bit preoccupied).

Sometimes it’ll happen if I’m a touch dehydrated ('cause it fatigues me a bit).

Weirder still is I’ll jumble the word order in a sentence. So “I like the Straight Dope!” will turn into “Dope dope I like Straight Dope.” Makes me feel like an idiot.

It usually goes away when I make a conscious effort not to work so hard for a couple of days and get extra sleep.

If your doctor isn’t worried (you’re not slurring or displaying any other suspicious symptoms) then it’s probably not something to worry about. Take a moment to compose yourself and gather your thoughts. It may just be that you’ve become so aware of it you’re getting alittle worried about it and are perpetuating the cycle.

You can always ask your doctor to reasses you if it persists (and certainly if anything else like slurring speech, numbness, heachaches, or funky neurological stuff starts to happen.)

Get some outdoor excercise.

Stress may be messing with you, & a long walk can help with that.

Started any new meds before the onset?

Yeah, I should probably de-stress more. I’m up to my eyeballs with wedding plans (my own wedding) in, well, 117 days (but who’s counting?) so that’s probably not helping.

Just so that I can kick into full hypochondriac mode, what would the addition of slurry speech, headaches, etc. be indicative of?

On preview, no new meds, KidCharlemagne.

The need to go see a doctor.

Speech interpretation and formation are controlled by two main centers in the brain. Wernicke’s area (located on the left hemisphere, near the junction between the paritial, occipital and temporal lobes) is associated with interpretation of words and language, i.e., if you see a word, the image is recognized by Wernicke’s area, and translates the visual info into an interpretation of what the word stands for. If you want to say a word, the association is stored as a memory, and recalled by this area. The word is then forewarded to Brocca’s area (Located in the left parietal lobe, ventral to the Wernikes), which is responsible for the muscle control necessary to say the word. Stuttering most likely originates in this area. Something in the translation between Wernicke’s and Brocca’s causes brain to get caught on a particular section of the sentence. By retraining the brain to reset the association or practicing to ignore extraneous information transmitted to Brocca’s or from Brocca’s, stuttering can probably be overcome.

That’ll do it.

Could be stress. Could be like me, and have brain damage. (Seriously)

My sister says I could have saved a lot of money on MRIs if I had just asked her.

The post by Eats Crayons, above, is correct. I’ve had a speech dysfunction off and on for thirty years. Recently I’ve started visiting a speech therapist. This is what she says: People with a (speech) dysfunction usually think very quickly; … they’re usually ten words ahead of themselves; … when they think they’re going to stumble on a word or a syllable it can result in them changing their words and the substance of what they are trying to say; … diet affects your speech, sometimes alcohol [in my case, the toxins found in just one glass of red wine will affect my speech - d*mn it.]

“Fact is,” she says, “no-one knows why people stammer.”

Raise your chin, it makes breathing easier. Make and keep eye contact. Decide you will speak more slowly. If you stammer, lack of sleep will exacerbate it.

1% of males stammer; less women stammer.

Stammering sets you apart as a creative thinker, she says.

I stuttered as a child and then it came back when I was around 30. Once I started stuttering again it was a case of “circular cumulative causation”; the more I stuttered the more nervous I became, the more nervous I became the more I stuttered. I went to a speech pathologist who taught me some tricks to use (such as takin a big breath before speaking and letting a little escape before the first word). It quickly cleared right up and has not come back. Just having a bag of tricks at the ready was enough to lower my anxiety.

As I said above, Wendell Johnson pointed out over and over and over that nobody pronounces every word perfectly in ordinary conversation. Everybody hems and haws and mumbles and stumbles. The main difference between you, at age 30, and me was that I don’t worry about it.