Understanding the cause
July 27, 2012 2:26PM
Updated: August 29, 2012 6:01AM
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Speechless in Omaha,” whose friend, “Sharon,” wouldn’t stop talking. I am a physician and also the mother of an adult son with a serious mental illness. Sharon’s speech is suggestive of “pressured speech,” which is a hallmark of bipolar mania or hypomania. It also could be caused by extreme anxiety, certain drugs and occasionally schizophrenia and other illnesses. The person talks rapidly, nonstop, loudly and with urgency, interrupts and is hard to interrupt, and can be tangential (off topic).
People with mental illnesses often do not perceive that there is anything wrong with them. If “Speechless” knows her friend’s doctor, informing him or her of her observations would be very helpful. Though a provider can never divulge anything about a patient without consent, it is perfectly legal and often invaluable for them to receive information about a patient.
Dear Vermont: Thank you for your expertise. Our readers were eager to weigh in on the various possibilities of dealing with Sharon. Read on for more:
From Florida: Sharon sounds like she may have ADHD. I have a friend like that: very bright, entertaining and a mouth going a mile a minute, unable to contain herself. I love her, and she drives me nuts. She now can focus more if I remind her.
Texas: There is a good possibility that Sharon is on diet pills or uppers.
New York: Sharon has a compulsive disorder. Maybe an intervention is necessary. Cut a piece of duct tape about 6 inches long, and the next time you see her, place the tape over her mouth with a big smile and say, “Now maybe someone else can talk for a change.” If she gets angry and decides to “unfriend” you, you haven’t lost much. She is too self-centered to be interested in you anyway. (Dear Readers: We don’t recommend this one. — Annie)
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