Dyslexia, Stress, Anxiety. How Are They All Connected?

By Morgan Kimball

Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with pressure. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or uneasiness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is a state of worry about what might be, and stress is a reaction to what is.

How are stress and anxiety connected to dyslexia? Stress and anxiety increase when put in a difficult situation. Many individuals with dyslexia worry about reading, writing, and math. Afraid that they might make a mistake in front of others. Everyone experiences stress and anxiety, but those individuals with dyslexia are particularly vulnerable. Because many individuals don’t fully understand the nature of their learning disability and tend to blame themselves for their own difficulties, which can lead to stress and anxiety. A little stress is healthy; it keeps us on our toes and gets us ready for any challenges ahead. The DE-STRESS model can help us deal with stress and anxiety: 

  • Define: Professionals working with the person need to analyze and understand the way dyslexia presents itself in that individual.
  • Educate: Based on the information given, the child or adult needs to be taught how dyslexia has an impact on their performance in school, workplace, or social situations.
  • Speculate: Encouraging individuals with dyslexia to look ahead and anticipate the problems they might encounter because of their condition as they face new challenges. 
  • Teach: It’s important to teach everyone developmentally appropriate strategies, techniques, and approaches that will maximize success and minimize frustration and failure. 
  • Reduce the Threat: Create learning and social environments that reduce, remove or neutralize the risk of stress.
  • Exercise: Regular and vigorous physical activity is known to reduce stress. 
  • Success: Providing successful opportunities gives individuals with dyslexia a chance to learn how to replace the language of self-doubt.
  • Strategize: Encouraged to use what they have learned about minimizing and managing stress and the relationship between stress and dyslexia.