Tourette Syndrome Overview and Facts

by Bill Nguyen

Introduction

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by the presence of tics, which are rapid and repetitive movements made involuntarily by an individual with the syndrome. Tics can be categorized into two groups: motor (e.g., blinking, shrugging, arm jerking) and vocal (e.g., humming, shouting, grunting). Symptoms usually begin during early and late adolescence and may gradually disappear as an individual ages. However, the disorder has been known to persist throughout adulthood as well.

Causes

While the exact cause of TS is currently unknown, research has suggested that the disorder may be inherited genetically or may be a result of abnormalities in one’s genetics.

Treatment

As the cause of the disorder remains unknown, there is no cure for TS. Medication can be offered to temporarily repress symptoms, allowing individuals with TS to function normally throughout the day. However, these medications come with side effects and do not offer a lasting solution. Although not a cure, behavioral therapy can help individuals suffering from TS cope with their symptoms as well as help reduce the severity of tics. Ultimately, it is recommended that individuals with TS visit a certified physician or specialist to consider which treatment is best suited to them.

Notable Facts

  • It is estimated that 1 out of every 160 children in the United States ages 5 to 17 suffers from TS.

  • Individuals with TS have a higher risk of other mental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, and depression.

  • Males are more likely to suffer from TS than females are.

Below is a video containing interviews with actual individuals diagnosed with TS.