Do you often know what you want to say but can’t physically express it? Here’s what it could mean.
Language is a powerful tool. It can convey thoughts, intention, emotion, and knowledge. It isn’t always easy to get the right words out.
When you live with alogia, communication can become frustrating.
You might find yourself avoiding people and situations so you don’t misplace words during a conversation.
Alogia is a symptom, not a stand-alone diagnosis. It’s defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) as “poverty of speech” and “poverty of content.”
When you live with alogia, changes in your central nervous system make it challenging to speak.
Alogia typically presents in two ways:
- You have difficulty speaking spontaneously and may give short replies to questions (poverty of speech).
- You tend to talk extensively but have difficulty communicating information well (poverty of content).
Mild cases may sometimes be referred to as “dyslogia.“
Living with poverty of speech may mean you offer short, single-word answers. Poverty of content could seem like vague, incoherent rambles.
This process of communication isn’t by choice. You’re not simply being blunt or short with your replies. This is something that you can’t control and is linked to your ability to think.
Alogia and disorganized speech are both diagnostic terms seen in the DSM-5, and they’re typically associated with schizophrenia.
Disorganized speech is used to describe a broad range of nonspecific language symptoms.
In general, disorganized speech refers to communication that’s difficult to understand. It can manifest mildly or severely.
Disorganized speech may include:
- repeating words
- using words together that don’t form a sentence
- coming up with new words
- inaccurately using words to describe something
It’s often linked to disorganized thoughts.
Alogia can be considered a type of disorganized speech, but it doesn’t necessarily associate with disorganized thinking. You may want to express something, but words don’t come out as you intend them to.
Poverty of speech and poverty of content are primarily associated with schizophrenia as “negative symptoms.“
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are defined by a lackof something that would typically be present in a person without the condition.
Other conditions can also show signs of alogia, including:
- schizoaffective disorder
- bipolar disorder
- delusional disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- traumatic brain injury
- psychotic disorder
- schizotypal personality disorder
- schizophreniform disorder
- severe depression
- attenuated psychosis syndrome
Some people like to speak to the point. Some add some flair to their stories.
Sometimes, it could be difficult to determine if blunt or to-the-point speech is a communication style or a sign of alogia.
However, alogia is involuntary and related to your ability to think. It’s not a stylistic choice.
It may also appear with other symptoms.
Common signs of poverty of speech include:
- single-word responses
- lack of flowing conversation
- using minimal words
- rambling speech
- failure to respond in conversation
- stopping mid-sentence
- pausing for long periods of time between words
- trouble turning thoughts into the right words
- a flat tone or dull facial expression
Alogia in schizophrenia is considered a “negative symptom.”
In this term, “negative” is not meant as a judgmental label. Instead, these symptoms are called “negative symptoms” because they take away a part of your functionality.
Positive symptoms, on the other hand, add something to your behavior or thought process.
Negative symptoms linked to schizophrenia include:
- limited emotional expression
- avolition (severe lack of motivation)
- anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
- asociality (lack of interest in social interactions)
Positive symptoms can include:
Alogia is considered one of the more common symptoms of schizophrenia due to how schizophrenia seems to affect your central nervous system.
Schizophrenia influences both the structure and functioning of certain parts of your brain. These areas include the ones dedicated to long-term memory.
The exact cause of alogia remains under investigation, but experts think nerve connection challenges in schizophrenia may prevent you from easily retrieving words from memory.
The findings aligned with research from 2005 and 2011, which both suggested disorganized semantic (long-term) memory was directly linked to alogia symptoms in schizophrenia.
Alogia isn‘t always a symptom
Living with schizophrenia doesn’t mean you will always develop alogia. A 2016 review of studies on this condition shows some people experience minimal to no brain changes.
Also, alogia doesn’t always mean you have schizophrenia. It could be a sign of something else.
Overcoming alogia requires treatment of underlying conditions.
The type of treatment you receive will depend on:
- the condition you’re living with
- the severity of your symptoms
- any physical challenges that may affect your overall well-being
Since alogia is routinely seen as a symptom of a mental health condition, your healthcare team may suggest a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Alogia can make it challenging to find effective ways to communicate during therapy sessions.
You may want to work closely with a mental health professional to find ways to work around speech barriers. Art therapy may be an effective alternative.
Many of the conditions associated with alogia, like schizophrenia, are manageable and treatable. As underlying conditions are managed, you may notice speech improvement, too.
Some signs of alogia, like those related to permanent brain trauma, may not improve with treatment.
Alogia is a symptom related to a number of underlying mental health conditions. It’s also referred to as poverty of speech or poverty of content.
When you live with alogia, you may want to communicate clearly but instead find it challenging to think of words or form more than short answers.
Alogia isn’t a reflection of your personality or communication style. It’s a negative symptom, meaning you’ve experienced a loss of function, related to speech and language.
Alogia that’s connected to a mental health condition can often improve as you begin to manage the underlying condition.