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The Psychology Behind Excessive Talking

Talking too much can be socially uncomfortable, but it may be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Here’s what excessive talkers should know. Speech is a part of how our brains are programmed to socially connect and survive. But some people may talk excessively. Excessive talking is the practice of overtalking or compulsively talking. Someone may talk excessively due to a mental health

  • Posted on 27th Apr, 2022 22:45 PM
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Speech is a part of how our brains are programmed to socially connect and survive. But some people may talk excessively. Excessive talking is the practice of overtalking or compulsively talking. Someone may talk excessively due to a mental health disorder, such as bipolar disorder, or to personality or behavioral characteristics.

Read on to learn more about the psychology of excessive talking, categories, disorders that cause it, and how to handle an excessive talker.

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Excessive Talking and Personality

Excessive talking can occur due to personality traits or characteristics.

People who are more extroverted will recharge by engaging socially with others in conversation, while introverts recharge by having time alone. Extroverts often think out loud, while introverts process more internally through deeper thinking.

To a more reserved, less talkative introvert, an extrovert may seem to talk excessively, when the issue could be due to a difference in personality traits.

When Talking Too Much Is Something Else

Often, the person who is talking excessively may not know they are doing it. Excessive talking can be caused by the following mental health conditions:

  • Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder may talk excessively with pressured or rapid speech when their brain is in a manic state.
  • Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that affects the brain and often affects how someone talks, causing pressured (rapid and urgent) speech and disorganized (difficult-to-follow) speech.
  • Personality disorders: People with personality disorders, particularly narcissistic personality disorder, may talk excessively.
  • Anxiety disorders: Anxiety can cause someone to speak excessively. While many with social anxiety may avoid social interactions, some may inadvertently talk excessively when in social situations out of nervousness and anxiety.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): People with ADHD may talk excessively and interrupt frequently.

Categories of Excessive Talking

Assessing a person's speech is a part of a mental status exam, which is a type of assessment that mental healthcare providers often perform during appointments. The quality of a person's speech can often give indications of their mental status.

The following are categories of excessive talking.

Pressured

Pressured speech is rapid, urgent speech to the point that others may find it difficult to interrupt or get a word in. This can occur when someone is having severe anxiety, has schizophrenia, is under the influence of substances, or might be experiencing a manic episode, which can occur with bipolar disorder.

Hyperverbal

Hyperverbal speech is talking fast with an increased rate or number of words. This type of speech can indicate anxiety or that a person is currently experiencing a manic episode.

Disorganized 

Disorganized speech moves rapidly from one idea to the other in ways that can be hard to follow.

Disorganized speech may also include ideas that do not connect to each other or are out of context. Disorganized speech can occur due to schizophrenia.

Examples include the following:

  • Neologisms are made-up words or slang that can be fun to use and indicate shifts in a language. But in the context of disorganized speech, the use of neologisms is unclear or out of context.
  • Sentences with words that do not connect
  • Echolalia, or repeating exactly what someone else says
  • Rhyming words (words that rhyme but do not connect as concepts)

Compulsive

Compulsive talking is when someone feels they cannot stop talking or they compulsively keep talking nonstop. This can occur for several reasons, including severe anxiety, the impact of substances, and ADHD.

With ADHD, the brain will jump quickly from concept to concept. People with ADHD already have poor impulse control, and they can often feel anxious enough to talk excessively, have difficulty taking turns in conversations, and frequently interrupt others.

Sometimes people talk compulsively because it's actually a way of avoiding painful emotions. They are so busy talking, they can push away their feelings to avoid dealing with the pain or anxiety that may come with the emotions.

Treating Excessive Talking in Mental Health

People who talk excessively may benefit by seeing a healthcare provider in order to explore the cause and find the best possible treatment options.

Self-Management Skills for Excessive Talking

Research indicates that up to 40% of a person's speech is about themselves. Talking about oneself can activate the reward centers of the brain. So while socially it may be necessary to cease talking excessively, it may be challenging to go against the wiring of the brain.

Here are a few strategies for managing excessive talking.

  • Listen more than you speak: Take a moment of silence and hold off on speaking to improve your listening skills. Try taking time to notice details as the other person talks that might normally be missed.
  • Think of tennis: Conversations shouldn't be a one-way experience, but more like a tennis match, with the conversation, like the tennis ball, going back and forth between people.
  • Set a mental timer: In the first few seconds of a conversation you have someone's full attention, but the longer you go on, particularly as you get closer to a minute, you may start to lose their attention, or even worse, become aggravating.
  • Notice social cues: If you have a tendency to overtalk, pay extra attention to social cues while you're talking. If people start to look around, fidget, check their watch or their phone, you may have overstayed your verbal welcome.

Therapy Options 

Excessive talking can create a burden on social interactions. Therapy may be beneficial as a treatment.

The following therapy options may help for excessive talking:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT has proven effective for treating many causes of excessive talking, including anxiety and ADHD.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of CBT often used to help people with personality disorders (which can be a cause of excessive talking). It focuses on gaining emotional control and regulation skills, which may be helpful in treating excessive talking.

Tips for Handling Excessive Talkers 

Here are a few tips for handling excessive talkers:

  • Put a limit on it: Let them know you are only available to talk for a set amount of time, such as 15 or 20 minutes. It may help to remind them as the time gets closer to the end that there are only a couple of minutes left.
  • Excuse yourself: You may have to interrupt them to excuse yourself from the conversation.
  • Plan for it: If you're heading into a situation in which you know you'll encounter excessive talkers—or if you'll be in a situation in which you don't have an easy way to exit the conversation—it may help to occupy yourself with a craft or activity to keep yourself busy and out of the conversation.

Summary

Excessive talking is when a person talks compulsively or excessively. Reasons that someone may talk excessively include mental health disorders, personality characteristics, and personality disorders.

Excessive talking can create a social burden for both the talking person and their listeners. There are things you can do to avoid overtalking, like setting a time limit on conversations, paying attention to social cues, or seeking the help of a mental health provider.

A Word From Verywell 

Though it can be frustrating to deal with an excessive talker, try to remember that it likely isn't their fault. It may be due to a mental health disorder or an uncontrollable personality trait. You can keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by an excessive talker by setting a time limit on conversations, excusing yourself, and planning ahead for encounters with that person.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • At what point does talking too much become a problem?

    Ideally, conversations should be an equal balance between two people or a back-and-forth exchange. Noticing social cues, resisting the urge to talk, and taking time to listen can help. After 20 to 40 seconds of talking, notice whether your listener is still attentive to what you are saying. If not, it may be time for someone else to speak.

  • Does excessive blinking go hand in hand with excessive talking?

    Research does indicate that when talking, the blink rate goes up significantly. While previously researchers thought this was due to the thinking processes in the brain, one study indicates it actually has more to do with the motor activity or movements of the mouth.

  • Do people with ADHD talk a lot?

    People with ADHD often do talk a lot. There are several reasons for this. With ADHD, the brain is constantly seeking stimuli. People with ADHD may talk excessively when nervous because they want to be part of the conversation, or instead of getting quieter, social anxiety may actually propel them to talk more. They may also talk excessively from a desire to fill the silence, because silence can be challenging for a person with ADHD.

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