Aphasia Therapy Can Help Anxiety Related to Aphasia

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Aphasia Therapy Can Help Anxiety Related to Aphasia


Aphasia is a communication disorder that makes it difficult for a person to find the words they wish to use. It can also impact their ability to understand what others are saying. Reading, writing, following conversations, and comprehending numbers can all be affected by aphasia. Yet emotions can also be affected by aphasia including anger, sadness, anxiety and frustration. Aphasia therapy can help.


The families that come to Therapy Works Together for aphasia therapy have often described that there are a lot of emotions that occur with their loved one who is suffering with aphasia.

They have often asked the speech therapists:

  • Can anxiety cause aphasia to get worse?
  • Can aphasia cause anxiety?


Research has shown that there is a definite relationship between aphasia and anxiety. So the answer our speech therapists have to both of those questions is yes. And there is a way that aphasia therapy with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help. In this article we will go deeper into the topic and provide some helpful information on how to understand and treat aphasia as well as to understand how emotions and aphasia are related.


The Three Types of Aphasia


Broca’s Aphasia – When blood flow to the dominant frontal lobe of the brain is disrupted by a stroke, Broca’s region is damaged. Broca’s aphasia is a type of expressive aphasia and is a condition in which a person’s ability to produce intelligible words or sentences is impaired. However, it has little or no impact on one’s ability to comprehend what others are saying.


You could be frustrated or angered if you have Broca’s aphasia because you can’t put your thoughts into words. You know what you want to say but the words just don’t come out. Some stroke survivors with aphasia may only express themselves with a few words. Telegraphic speech is the term used by speech therapists to describe this form of language production.


As a result, Broca’s aphasia frequently occurs in conjunction with other symptoms following a stroke. Weakness or paralysis on the right side of the body, alexia (not being able to read), and agraphia (not being able to write) are some of these difficulties. Speech therapy for expressive aphasia is what helps people with this condition.


An example of a person with Broca’s aphasia trying to speak would be: they are looking at a cup, reaching for it and looking at it to ask for help in getting the cup but not able to say the word “cup.”


Wernicke’s aphasia – This type of aphasia affects the temporal lobe. When people with Wernicke’s aphasia talk, they are unable to understand others or even themselves. It is not difficult to imagine that this type of aphasia can severely increase frustration on the part of the listener and speaker.


When a person with Wernicke’s aphasia is speaking it is almost impossible to comprehend what they are trying to say. Wernicke’s aphasia is a type of aphasia in which stroke survivors compose phrases with words arranged in what appears to be a random order. Logorrhea is a term used to describe this type of verbal pattern.


An example of a sentence from someone with Wernicke’s aphasia would be: “My into sat door the flying.”


When people with Wernicke’s aphasia talk, they often believe that others should be able to understand them. This is due to their incapacity to comprehend that their language has deteriorated.


Patients with Wernicke’s aphasia may discover that others are unable to understand what they are saying. As a result, they may feel enraged, suspicious, or depressed. After a stroke, Wernicke’s aphasia is one of the most emotionally draining experiences. Again, it is not so difficult to see how this type of aphasia can increase anxiety in a person who is attempting to communicate in their everyday lives.


Global aphasia – This is a kind of aphasia that arises when brain injury is so extensive that both Broca’s and Wernicke’s language regions are affected. Survivors suffering from global aphasia are unable to understand or talk at all. People with global aphasias may be able to communicate through written language in some situations. Aphasia therapy for this type of disorder is the most complex.


What is the Most Common Cause of Aphasia?


Aphasia can develop quickly, as in the case of a stroke (the most common cause), a head injury, or brain damage, or slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor, brain infection, or a neurological illness like dementia.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Aphasia?


The signs and symptoms of aphasia differ depending on which part of the brain is affected, how large the affected area is, and if the type of aphasia is expressive aphasia or one that affects comprehension.


Symptoms to look out for include:


  • Having a hard time naming items, locations, people they know even though they are familiar to the person
  • When speaking or writing, difficulty expressing oneself (finding the correct words).
  • Conversation is difficult to grasp
  • Trouble reading or spelling
  • Omitting small words like “the,” “of” and “was” when speaking
  • Disorganized sentences
  • Being oblivious to errors in one’s spoken language
  • Only using short phrases that take a lot of effort to develop


There are other symptoms of aphasia which can be reviewed here.


aphasia therapy can help with emotions like anxiety and depression

Is Anxiety or Other Emotion Related to Aphasia?


We looked at some of the possible medical causes of aphasia, and anxiety was not one of them. At the same time, worry is frequent following strokes, especially in patients who have aphasia. It’s understandable that many individuals are curious about the link between anxiety and aphasia.


It’s also worth noting that anxiousness might exacerbate pre-existing speech and language issues including aphasia. We frequently think of anxiety as a mental illness, but the truth is that anxiety affects the entire individual, not just one component of their personality. Anxiety is associated with tense muscles, racing thoughts, and general feelings of nervousness, as well as increased difficulty processing information which is needed for understanding and producing language.


RELATED: Online Speech Therapy. What is it and who is it for?  


Can Aphasia Therapy Help with Anxiety Related to Aphasia?


Consider this: You’re going about your daily routines, with all of its ups and downs. Then one day, you have a stroke and you lose not only your movement and freedom but also your ability to speak and communicate with others. You’re the same person on the inside, but you’re not the same person on the outside.


You are a prisoner in your own mind. You are intelligent despite your inability to clearly articulate your thoughts and ideas. Worse, you are unable to discuss your issues, difficulties and emotions with others you care about. You’re depressed. You’re starting to feel lonely. You may even feel anger or anxiety.


During aphasia therapy, the speech language pathologist often acts as a counselor to the person needing therapy or to the family.


As experts dealing with people suffering from this disorder, we recognize the impairments and the need to help manage the impacts it has on a person’s whole life, not just the specific issue they have come to therapy for. Those who suffer from aphasia are dealt a harsh blow. They must first deal with the communication issue itself, which frequently renders individuals unable to talk or understand as they formerly did. Furthermore, they are unable to participate in typical aphasia therapy to process the emotional component of their losses due to the illness.


People with aphasia, therefore, might endure a lot of distress and the emotions that go along with it like anger, frustration, sadness at a loss of a previous life and anxiety at what the future might hold. They often have to deal with it alone and in silence. Speech therapists often teach a patient who is suffering from aphasia to use communication prompts, photos, art, and music to express some of the psychological symptoms and help to alleviate some of the anguish expressed during aphasia therapy.


Some of our speech therapists have even sat with patients during sessions to simply let them cry. This is where being a counselor more than a therapist comes in. We need to be present with the patient’s grief and know that there is nothing to fix. We only need to be a witness to their pain.


How Can Technology Help During Aphasia Therapy?


Speech therapy online (sometimes called teletherapy)  is a one-on-one speech therapy session with an SLP (speech-language pathologist) who is not in the same room as you. They might possibly be in another city, state, or even country. Speech therapy online for aphasia  is a method of bringing a speech therapist to you via technology.


Aphasia therapy online allows the person with aphasia to receive the same level of care from a speech therapist from the comfort of their own home.


This method of service delivery for aphasia allows the therapist and patient to use materials that are online and provides them with a greater variety of resources.


For example, there is an excellent YouTube channel online called Aphasia Channel which provides video information for people with aphasia, family members, and health professionals who work with aphasia. There is a playlist with personal stories of stroke survivors who talk about their difficulties.


This is an important online resource for a person with aphasia who is dealing with the emotional aspect of their disorder. It allows them to know and understand that they are not alone in dealing with this issue.


What Else Can We Do to Decrease Negative Emotions In People with Aphasia?


There are several ways that caregivers and family members can help people with aphasia so that there is less potential for negative emotions. Our speech therapists suggest the following:


  • When talking or listening to a person with aphasia, minimize distractions like noise from a TV
  • Try to include the person with aphasia in conversations; modify how they are included (e.g., let them write) and ask for their opinions
  • Ignore mistakes and do not correct the person when they speak
  • Search for local support groups and activities the person can participate in. This helps a person with aphasia know that they are not alone

Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults


We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.

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