Pressured Speech

Time lapse of hands typing on keyboard Pressured speech is speech at an accelerated or frenetic pace that conveys urgency seemingly inappropriate to the situation. It is often difficult for listeners to interrupt pressured speech, and the speech may be too rapid to understand. Pressured speech may be incoherent. Pressured speech occurs on a continuum and may range from extremely fast talking to completely incoherent, garbled speech.

What Causes Pressured Speech?
Pressured speech may be caused by thought issues referred to as flight of ideas. In flight of ideas, the concepts running through the speaker’s head are moving too quickly or too incoherently for the speaker to intelligently articulate them. Stimulant drugs such as cocaine can cause pressured speech. The phenomenon can also be caused by a number of illnesses, including schizophrenia and mania. People experiencing extreme anxiety may also exhibit pressured speech.

Pressured speech is not in itself a disorder or illness. Rather, it is symptomatic of other mental health conditions. A related condition, cluttering, may cause people to exhibit patterns similar to pressured speech, but is caused by a language disorder and is marked by distinct patterns of speech.

Is There Treatment for Pressured Speech?
Because pressured speech is not in itself a disorder, treatment depends upon the underlying cause. In some cases, the speech pattern is due to a temporary bout of anxiety or extreme stress and may go away on its own. When pressured speech co-occurs with other symptoms, clinicians may conduct evaluations to determine the cause. Clinicians may conduct tests to ensure a brain injury is not the cause. When the symptom is caused by a mental illness, psychiatrists and doctors may prescribe a number of psychoactive drugs in some cases to improve symptoms. Talk therapy can also be helpful for people with anxiety-inducing mental illnesses that result in pressured speech.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Kring, A. M., Johnson, S. L., Davison, G. C., & Neale, J. M. (2010). Abnormal psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Last Updated: 03-24-2016

  • Leave a Comment
  • Judy

    September 20th, 2016 at 11:28 PM

    Hello there,
    My speaking input ,often articulate, tends to be urgent at times depending on the situation or trigger and my anxious need to be heard and understood .
    It is often long winded as iItry to express myself in as few words as possible which is sometimes difficult.
    My father recently made reference to a friend he knew who had a crooked nose When he asked why it was crooked and the friend explained that it was because he was talking when he should have been listening!
    I try to say as little as possible knowing that anything I say,particularly when my brothers are around with or without their reluctantly received or on occassion , ignored.
    I think its the intensity of my voice . So its a vicious circle.
    I have been attending acting workshops in past few years and one of my teachers commented one day , that i waffled. Which upset me a great deal.
    I dont like the sound of my voice. My mother was deaf and there was intensity in her voice also which I believe was a result of my father’s seeming indifference. He was often silent and emotionally distant. A man of few words.
    Nowadays he wears hearing aids but sometimes chooses not to wear them because he doesnt wish to hear. He speaks and says what he needs but then he cant hear any response,often by choice.
    One of my brothers tends to be quite chatty. He can speak as much as he wants. And my father always is happy to hear him.
    I wonder if he told him what he told me about his friend who incidentally hung himself,not sure how long ago that was.
    I do try to be quiet but some triggers make it hard not to respond ,in my defence.
    I see a psychologist who is very supportive and my tendancy for tangental speech may be due to not feeling secure or my worth not affirmed or validated. I have been diagnosed with bipolar spectrum and am on medication which helps manage my condition.
    Cheers for now

  • Nitesh

    October 4th, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Hey Judy..I’m also in a similar situation. My rate of speech over the yrs has become so fast that it’s become difficult to hold even simple conversations let alone talking in groups. I know it’s got to do something with my anxious mind but I’m considering seeking professional help. Do u think it’s worth visiting a speech therapist?

  • Judy

    October 5th, 2016 at 1:06 AM

    Hi. Nitesh
    I think maybe a psychologist could support you more. Especially for underlying reasons that cause the speed at which you speak eg anxiety, it’s the anxiety which is causing the problem or at least exacerbating it. If you can treat the cause your speech may slow down.
    It’s not so much the speed of speech for me, it’s the amount said and the way I deliver it . the tone can be intense at times. And if emotions are involved it’s worse. It sounds like we just need an understanding listener but then we need to listen as well. There is the tendency to interject before the speaker has finished but then if I wait till then, my thought or idea has gone.
    Good luck Nitesh.

  • jane

    December 15th, 2016 at 9:56 AM

    Judy, most of what you wrote is what I am experiencing and it is having a severe effect on my life. I am turning inwards more and more, afraid to make a “scene” by talking a lot and with intensity. I a m married to a very quiet man, but when I do talk, he interrupts and tries to speak while I am still speaking. I KNOW I must learn to wait and listen for other people’s answers/comments, but I have probably developed a sense of what i have to say is more important or at least just as important. I’ve heard of speaking circles, where one is given an allotted time to speak. I need people who are kind and can help me without either ignoring me or criticizing me. When that happens, I lose all self-esteem and hole up for days. Been crying a lot. I used to teach English and was a Reference Librarian….loved the work, but would go off on tangents or lose my place when teaching. Most educators were helpful, not critical towards me. Anxiety played a huge role. Seeing a doctor tomorrow about medication. Tried stuff before, but think I need to be in a support group with like minded people.

  • Judy

    December 15th, 2016 at 5:36 PM

    Hello Jane and Nitesh,
    The problem is there, the fact that we are mindful of it is the most important step although to be too mindful of it can perhaps lead us to not being ourselves as we attempt to stunt our expression.
    The problem maybe not being heard when we were growing up?
    My problem is just that. That I don’t feel accepted but you know if we didn’t care whether we were accepted or not, that would be of benefit because the more we attempt to alter ourselves to accommodate other people’s idea of us, is compromising ourselves. Sure it’s good to respect others views but if caring for and accommodating over critical and inflexible significant other persons is bringing us down and making us less than what we know we are,it doesn’t serve any purpose except that it fills their bag and empties ours.
    So moderation is the thing I guess. If you need to interject with a strong point you can always say ” do you mind if I just but in here, sorry to interrupt but what I’m hearing you say is…….. but really doesn’t it depend on your point of view.?
    I say be yourself. I find that if you smile while you are speaking that can also help the other person to want to listen to you and if you get off the point you can say “sorry where was I? Or where were we?
    And if they’re rude and insult us, just say sorry you feel that way but I need to get going.
    I’m going to try and speak slower with a smile and just apologise for interrupting. And continue on. Then stop and say” what was it you were saying and hopefully you can hear them out. You could then say ” OK this is work in progress on effective communication where both sides are entitled to a view and one is not more powerful than the other. Respect and thoughtful reflection can help.
    My family don’t accept the presence of my support dog companions so I have made a decision to have Christmas with my dogs in preference to them. If they were naughty dogs I’d understand their view but they aren’t they are just there.
    About the speech pressure, if we weren’t so anxious to be around certain people who don’t accept us for who we are ie. kind good-natured people who are actually entitled to use the gift of language as well as anyone else.
    Can you imagine if we talkers all got together? Would anyone be really hearing what anyone is saying? Of course we would. Good Luck guys and never quit! Merry Christmas to you no matter how or where you spend it… Amongst all the words, ideas and obsessive thoughts give yourselves a break and be happy with the things in life that make us happy.. . Then we continue being the good people we know we are. And least we know we’re trying! God bless. 🙂
    😁 😁 😁 😁

  • Nitesh

    October 13th, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    I’ve the exact same problem Judy :( there’s no patience to listen to other people. It’s affecting so much as I’ve grown older. I feel now is the time to get it checked by a specialist. I understand u’ve been visiting a psychologist. How has been ur experience so far?

  • Kavya

    September 6th, 2017 at 10:09 AM

    Hie..tis s me husband experiences rapid and fast speech after he s getting angry…it lasts for some one to two s very much bothering me…he goes on repeating what he s saying and he s too fast too..can someone help me…

  • Sulemanmiga

    December 14th, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    This website is really helpful

  • David

    October 23rd, 2020 at 4:26 PM

    So-called “pressured speech” is a term psychologists and psychiatrists use to deflect when someone is trying to get someone to do something they said they would do. You see, most people have zero sense of ownership or responsibility for pretty much anything at all, so they say they’ll do this thing or that thing but the statement has no “meaning” per se. They may say they’ll do this thing or that thing but that to them does not create any imperative to actually do it.
    So when you try to get them to do something they said they would do, you are being “pressured” and engaging in “pressured speech” and the solution according to the social workers and psychiatrists and psychologists is of course apocalyptic punishment.

  • Judy

    October 24th, 2020 at 12:20 AM

    Wow! That is not my understanding of what “pressured speech” is .
    But am trying to appreciate your description.
    My understanding of “pressured speech” pertains to a very fast,and urgent ,perhaps passionate, communicative attempt made , in order to be possibly understood , validated and heard and may come from a place of anxiety where perhaps, in the past, the person suffering the symptom of “pressured speech” has perhaps not been heard, validated or understood.
    There may be a time factor that is relative also.
    So the person speaks very fast in an attempt to relay enough information in perhaps a short amount of time so as to relay a clear and accurate picture of whatever it is they are attempting to describe.
    They may become tangental and lose the focus completely .

    Apocalyptic punishment?
    What is that?

    I think that having an obsessive need to be understood in the first place shows massive insecurity and vulnerability.
    And the person suffering “pressured speech” may have a need to feel safe.
    Or else they are having a manic episode triggered by a cause or stimulus unknown or known.
    Explaining anything in as few words as possible is ideally far easier to listen one may believe.
    Otherwise the person may be accused of being a waffler, failing to really get to the point and loses the attention of the listener.
    This maybe why the person may not be understood in the first place.🙂

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