Sudden severe stuttering

Good morning Sir or Madam, My name is Jakub, I am a 25 years old recent uni graduate and I started working for an investment bank 2 months ago. Reason why I am writing you is that I roughly a year ago, I suddenly developed a habit of severe stuttering, which really complicates my life. I do know that this has been stress-related (brain scans did not reveal any tumour or any other possible physiological cause), and I attribute this to a bad period of life I was going through at that time (death of a close person, break-up with a long-time girlfriend, inability to find a job for months etc.). Problem is that I believe that I got through and sorted out all of these stress-factors, but stuttering stayed. For this reason I would like to ask you for a piece of advice or any recommendation on what to do, as this has become a major obstacle in both my professional and personal life. I have tried psychological counselling and even hypno-therapy before, however it brought only short-term improvements. I do have your private insurance too, so I would be more than grateful if I could see some specialist about this, or at least if you could recommend me some resources from where to start. Many thanks and I wish you a nice day. Best regards.

22 September 2016

Stammering or stuttering as it is also known as, is a speech disorder. When a person stammers, the person’s speech does not have a smooth flow to it and it may be forced with lots of stopping and pauses to it. There may also be repetition of syllables and sounds.

Stammering can be mild to severe and may cause anxiety around public speaking but general confidence is not affected. Stammering typically starts in childhood and is known as developmental stammering, but may also develop in adulthood from the following issues:

  • Head injury
  • Stroke
  • Neurological diseases
  • Emotional or psychological issues
  • Medications or drugs


When stammering starts in the pre-school years an early assessment and treatment of the disorder with the help of a speech and language therapist improves the success rate of treating this disorder significantly.

It is also worth noting that the majority of children who have developmental stammering, which is stammering that starts in childhood will grow out of this disorder as they become an older child or adult. A commonly quoted statistic for the number of adults who stammer is 1 in 100, with more men affected then women.

There are a number of different approaches for treating stammering and these include:

  • Indirect therapy – which includes talking slowly and the avoidance of criticism, together with positive social interactions
  • Direct therapy such as the Lidcombe Programme
  • Feedback devices and Apps (applications). Feedback devices work in a number of ways to help a person control their speaking
  • Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), to reduce anxiety and the experience of frustration around public speaking

It is a relief to hear that your consultant has not found any neurological causes for your stammering as an older adult with the brain scan that you mentioned; and that you have not experienced any direct trauma to your brain through a head injury or stroke.

You have said that this is beginning to affect your personal and professional life and therefore it would be worth confirming with your consultant or General Practitioner that they feel there is a psychological or emotional cause to your stammering.

Your consultant or general practitioner would need to confirm that it would be beneficial to receive speech and language therapy from a therapist.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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