Tourette Syndrome Part 1: Overview and Experiences
Co-authored by Harshita Parmar and Alexandra Fuhs
Hi everyone! Welcome to our first partner article! This article has two parts: the first being an overview of Tourette's Syndrome, and the latter acknowledging real-world individuals with Tourette's.
What is Tourette’s?
Tourette Syndrome is a condition of the nervous system that results in tics. Tics are repeated sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that are not controllable and can include squinting, grunting, or exclaiming a word. There are simple tics, which only involve one muscle group (like blinking, shrugging, or twitching), and complex tics (such as hopping, repeating phrases, or touching things). Tics are usually worse during times of stress or excitement and are less prominent during calm moments. Before the onset of a tic, many people experience an uncomfortable bodily sensation, relieved by the expression of the tic. In most cases, tics decrease as a person enters adulthood, but many people with Tourette’s Syndrome continue to be afflicted with tics into adulthood.
In order to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a medical professional evaluates the person for the following criteria: whether they have at least 2 motor tics and 1 vocal tic, if the tics have been occurring for at least one year (but can change in frequency), whether the tics started before the age of 18, and whether or not they’re caused by substance abuse or another medical condition. Along with Tourette Syndrome, many people have co-occurring conditions. Among those diagnosed with Tourette’s, 85% have been diagnosed with at least one of the following conditions: ADHD (60%), OCD (50%), anxiety (30%), and behavioral issues (30%). These co-occurring conditions may result in more obvious problems than the tics themselves. Approximately 0.6% of children have been diagnosed with Tourette’s, which affects all ethnicities equally, but is more common in males than females.
Currently, there is no cure for Tourette Syndrome. Treatment is designed to help people manage their tics, especially those that interfere with everyday activities. Various medications, including those used for ADHD such as Ritalin and Adderall as well as antidepressants, are sometimes used for more severe cases. In addition to medication, many people seek out behavioral and psychotherapy in order to reverse tic habits.
Thanks for reading and stayed tuned for Part 2 or our Tourette's series!