Dyslexia and anxiety

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in B2B on June 27, 2022
Wondering how dyslexia and anxiety are connected? Read this article to learn more.

    Dyslexia is often described as a learning disability because it negatively impacts the skills necessary for accurate spelling, reading, and even speech. In severe cases, however, dyslexia has far-reaching mental health consequences.

    Learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD can cause self-esteem issues, especially in dyslexic children and adolescents. When their special needs remain unaddressed, dyslexic individuals could develop anxiety disorders that affect their overall quality of life.

    How is dyslexia linked to anxiety?

    Reading is a vital life skill that helps us navigate the modern world. For children with learning difficulties, reading activities are usually stressful situations.

    While dyslexia is a learning disorder that doesn’t affect overall intelligence and creativity, dyslexic learners typically feel like they’re falling behind their peers. These dyslexia struggles increase a child’s anxiety, leading to poor self-image and self-esteem.

    Although anxiety isn’t always a symptom of dyslexia, people with learning difficulties can struggle with anxiety disorders. Children who don’t understand their learning differences are dissatisfied with their performance in school and can go through years of self-doubt.

    Over time, school becomes the least of their worries. Daily social situations involve a lot of reading. Reading a birthday card, book, pamphlet, or receipt sounds simple, but that’s not always the case for dyslexic individuals. Without adequate support, they lose confidence in their abilities and experience feelings of low self-esteem.

    But anxiety is only one of the emotional problems dyslexic children face. The condition is also tied to stress.

    Stress isn’t necessarily bad. It’s the brain’s way of alerting us to a psychological or physical threat. Consequently, we go into “fight or flight” mode. This response means we’ll either tackle the problem head-on or flee from the situation. If we feel confident in our abilities, we’ll start searching for the most effective solution. But feelings of anxiety and inadequacy tied to dyslexia make people think they lack control of the situation. In psychiatry, this is known as the dyslexia-stress-anxiety connection.

    The signs of anxiety to look out for

    Different types of anxiety disorders have various symptoms that prevent people from successfully participating in daily activities.

    The most common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are:

    • Fatigue
    • Restlessness
    • Periods of hyperactivity
    • Trouble concentrating
    • Physical problems like headaches and stomachaches
    • Lack of quality sleep

    Dyslexic children with overwhelming feelings of anxiety are at risk of developing a panic disorder. The signs of a panic attack include:

    • A sense of a lack of control
    • Periods of extreme discomfort or fear
    • Chest pain
    • Racing heart

    Those with panic disorders actively avoid stressful situations to prevent panic attacks. For dyslexic children, this typically means avoiding reading tasks.

    Another condition people with dyslexia may experience is social anxiety disorder. It has several intense symptoms:

    • The fear of being judged by others
    • Avoidance of social situations
    • Trembling or sweating
    • Stomachaches
    • Extreme self-consciousness

    Genetic factors play a part in the development of anxiety disorders. However, researchers believe environmental factors are equally as important. Dyslexic people are at higher risk of developing anxiety because of:

    • Feelings of shyness and nervousness during childhood
    • Low self-esteem
    • Exposure to highly stressful situations

    While there’s no cure for learning disorders like dyslexia, professional help is vital for alleviating stress and managing anxiety symptoms.

    Strategies for coping with anxiety

    Anxiety can be overwhelming, and people sometimes think there’s no way out of their situation. Fortunately, there are several effective strategies for overcoming a negative self-image and leading a fulfilling life.

    Here are a few suggestions to keep you calm during high-stress events:

    • Focus on your breathing.
    • Remember that your negative thoughts aren’t true.
    • Experiment with aromatherapy and find a scent that soothes your mind.
    • Take a short walk or do a 15-minute yoga session.

    Consider trying a long-term coping method to bolster your mental health for the best outcome. Here are some of the most helpful long-term strategies:

    • Keeping a journal
    • Professional help like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
    • Meditation
    • A healthy diet
    • Regular exercise

    Consult a psychiatry expert to determine which strategy fits your symptoms best.

    For dyslexic people, anxiety symptoms usually become less intense when they have the tools to address their learning needs. Dyslexic children should work with a special education teacher who understands how to make the learning material more approachable. Additionally, they should have access to assistive technology to help them keep up with their peers. Thanks to innovations in assistive technology, many dyslexic people have successfully tackled their learning challenges and excelled in later life.

    Speechify – making reading easier for dyslexic people

    Text to speech (TTS) reading apps like Speechify allow dyslexic people to enjoy reading. Speechify is easy to use and meets the unique needs of people with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and other learning disabilities.

    The program allows users to listen to PDF files, websites, papers, documents, and any text they’ve saved in an electronic format. It’s available as a mobile app for Android and iOS devices and as a Chrome and Safari extension.

    Let’s look at a few reasons why Speechify has become the go-to app for dyslexic individuals:

    • Highlighting features for improved concentration
    • Supports over 20 languages, including Hindu, Portuguese, and Spanish
    • Provides over 30 voices to match your personal preference
    • Helps improve reading fluency
    • Boosts motivation

    Parents and educators can use the program to create a stress-free learning environment for children. It’s also an invaluable resource for adults who want to improve productivity at work.

    The truth about dyslexia is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Dyslexic people deserve access to tools they can easily incorporate into their lifestyle. And Speechify checks all the boxes. Try it for free today to fall in love with reading and improve your mental health.


    Does dyslexia cause anxiety?

    While dyslexia doesn’t cause anxiety, anxiety-related disorders are a common side effect of many learning disabilities.

    Does dyslexia get worse with anxiety?

    Chronic feelings of anxiety can prevent dyslexic people from addressing their issues. But professional help can help manage symptoms of both anxiety and dyslexia.

    Does dyslexia affect your mental health?

    Dyslexia can significantly impact a person’s mental health and lead to low self-esteem.

    Are dyslexics socially awkward?

    Dyslexic people are sometimes socially awkward because they’re embarrassed by their issues. This problem typically affects young children who try to hide their learning disability from their friends.

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    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

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    I have been flailing due to an eye injury on top of Lyme disease on top of long-covid and a herniated disc with neuropathy. Sitting hurts and propping a book while lying down is stressful. Anxiety over not keeping up, ADD with medication fluctuation and nystagmus of one eye, stigmatism with the other eye both before the retina injured has caused duress as an exam approaches in 35 days. I just need to get through these 500 pages and at least try the assignments. I believe this app will be the key.. thank you ever so much! It’s never too late to find a key and unlock the door to a new world!

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    “I am a student who had dyslexia so is very very very helpful for me. A reading assignment that would normally take me 30+ minutes took 10! I will be using this very often.” - CHAMA NORLAND

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    “Congratulations for this lovely project. Speechify is brilliant. Growing up with dyslexia this would have made a big difference. I'm so glad to have it today.”
    - Sir Richard Branson
    "Speechify lets me listen to Goop blog posts out loud in the car and gets my friends through grad school. It's amazing for scripts."
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