Adult Affected by Selective Mutism and Coping Strategies

Adult Affected by Selective Mutism and Coping Strategies

Estimates of the incidence of selective mutism, a rare mental illness that mostly affects youngsters, range from 0.2% to 1.6%. On the other hand, it may persist into adulthood if untreated. Although it is often linked to social anxiety, it is a distinct mental health illness with its own special characteristics.

The ins and outs of adult selective mutism will be covered in detail in this article, along with solutions.

Selective Mutism: What Is It?

A psychiatric disorder known as selective mutism causes a person to become silent in certain contexts. It might occur in a family gathering, the workplace, or a school when someone is expected to contribute to the discourse but doesn’t. In every other situation, speaking comes naturally to the individual and they express themselves fearlessly.

Selective Mutism What Is It

What Indices and Manifestations Are Associated with Adult Selective Mutism?

The following indications and symptoms may be seen in an adult with selective mutism:

What Are the Adult Origins of Selective Mutism?

Since selective mutism often manifests in later life, childhood influences are typically connected to the causes of selective mutism in adults. Although the precise etiology is unknown, it is linked to the following frequent triggers.

In addition to these risk factors, particular ideas about the genesis of selective mutism exist [2*] . Let’s just go over them.

How Is Adult Selective Mutism Diagnosed?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) formerly included selective mutism under the heading of “Disorders of childhood and adolescence.” Due to its worrisome aspect, selective mutism was included to the category of anxiety disorders in the most recent version of the DSM (5). The restrictions on its diagnosis being limited to children have also been lifted, allowing adults to be assessed and diagnosed [4*] with this illness.

An adult must possess the following traits in order to be classified as selectively silent:

In certain social contexts, adults who suffer from selective mutism don’t strike up a discussion or react to others. When evaluating a patient with selective mutism, clinicians most often also diagnosis an anxiety illness, most frequently social anxiety disorder.

Mental health experts may provide the following questions to the patient or family members in order to determine whether or not they exhibit selective mutism:

Adult Selective Mutism Test

Standardized testing to determine if an adult is selectively mute are nonexistent. Selective mutism may only be evaluated and diagnosed using DSM criteria by a mental health professional after a thorough interview with the patient or their family members. By using the SmartCare symptom checker to complete our brief exam, you may get a rough overview of your mental health.

What Distinguishes Selective Mutism from Other Conditions?

Health care providers find it difficult to differentiate selective mutism from other psychiatric disorders thathave similar traits. As a result, it is typical to be diagnosed with both selective mutism and another mental illness. Nonetheless, selective mutism differs from other situations in a few minor ways:

Typical ConductParticular Mutism
Mutism that is electiveCapable of speaking, yet in certain 
circumstances prefers to keep quiet.
wants to talk in public but 
finds it difficult to do so.
Mutism caused by neuronsdue to a brain damage that is underlying.classified as psychogenic mutism and brought on by psychological problems without a biological cause.
Anxiety in Social Situationsis the fear-based avoidance of social encounters.Is quiet conduct brought on by nervousness in certain circumstances.
Insecurityfeels relieved after acclimating 
to a certain social environment.
is not alleviated, not even after the first period of adjustment.
Disorders of CommunicationSpeaking issues are universal in all social settings.Only a few societal paradigms prevent people from speaking.
Autismis characterized by communication impairments as well as behavioral problems.There is no behavioral component to the diagnosis.
Mutism brought on by traumapause for a while after a severe experience.Relentless quiet under certain circumstances could or might not be brought on by prior trauma.

How is Selective Mutism Treated in Adults?

Adults with selective mutism get multimodal therapy. The main treatments for this mental health issue are counseling and medication, much as for the majority of anxiety disorders.

Treatment for Selective Mutilation

To address speech difficulties in certain contexts, several treatments are being used. The most successful ones are as follows:

Therapy based on cognitive behavior (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT [5*] , is a problem-solving, action-oriented talking treatment that aids in patients’ understanding of the disease. Under the supervision of a licensed therapist, adults may acquire a variety of coping mechanisms to handle stressful events that cause selective mutism. Several behavioral strategies are used to enhance speech abilities in certain contexts, such as:

Psychodynamic Counseling

The main emphasis of psychodynamic therapy is on in-depth examinations of the personal elements that influence and determine behavior. The aim is to assist the patient in seeing how memories from the past impact behavior in the present. It assists in resolving internal issues that may have originated from a difficult upbringing. Psychodynamic treatment may provide light on the ingrained childhood factors that may be the main contributor to adult selective mutism.

Family Counseling

When internal family variables are important in the development and reinforcement of selective mutism, family therapy may be very helpful in instances of selective mutism. Parental and sibling cooperation and understanding go a long way toward helping the youngster overcome avoidance and anxiety. Treatment for avoidant and anxious behavior may be more successful when friends and family are involved.

Therapy for Speech-Language

Individuals with selective mutism are often advised to have speech-language treatment in addition to behavioral therapy. It makes people more at ease while conversing in awkward circumstances.


Adults with selective mutism are often treated pharmacologically with antidepressants such selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs). In some circumstances, these drugs assist people break through the speech barrier by regulating the neurochemical levels in the brain, which enhances mood and cognitive function. When provided alongside therapy and counseling, they are much more advantageous. In some case reports, selective mutism symptoms have been reported to be reduced by SSRIs [6*] . For treating muted behavior, fluoxetine [7*]. and fluvoxamine [8*]  are the most often given drugs.

Self-Help Advice

You may use some self-help techniques to lessen the signs of silent conduct.

Final Words

According to the DSM-V, selective mutism is an uncommon anxiety condition that is often seen in youngsters but may also be diagnosed in adults. Its defining trait is its incapacity to carry on a discussion in a particular setting. If left untreated, selective mutism may have negative effects on one’s social and academic life, as well as emotional and medical assistance.