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Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry

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What is Tourette’s Syndrome?

Tourette’s Syndrome is a disorder that can affect 1 in 162 people and can easily affect a person’s social life. This disorder is characterized by several “tics” that happen daily. These tics are actions that a patient repeats over and over again over the course of their life. These tics can manifest in either actions or vocalizations. 

Involuntary Actions

Some tics take the form of involuntary actions that happen several times a day. These can take the form of:

  • Shrugging
  • Various hand gestures
  • Unusual blinking
  • Making faces

These actions can be very minor and barely intrude in a person’s day to day life. They might look strange to others but they can still properly function. Some can be more complex and require a set of muscles working together to perform the tic. Some tics even be dangerous in that they harm the person both directly and indirectly. Tics that cause self harm like punching oneself or biting their own lips makes life hard for a patient.

Tourette’s Syndrome and Speaking Out 

Vocalization tics are less harmful to a person physically. However, they can heavily affect how a person will be viewed by others. These tics can be as minor as throat clearing to as major as uncontrollably swearing in public. This can heavily affect a person’s social life and lead to them becoming outcasts in their community. 

Is There a Cure?

At present, there are no known cures for this disorder. However, the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome can actually go away as a child grows older. The best thing that can be given to a person suffering from it is treatment. These treatment’s goals are to make sure that Tourette tics doesn’t severely affect a person’s day to day life. There are two types of treatment that can be used in helping keep Tourette’s Syndrome in check. These are by using either various types of medication or through therapy.

Using Medication

Medication is the chemical alternative to helping treat Tourette’s Syndrome. These medications can help a person minimize the effects of tics on their life. However, this option does have its downsides. 

Every person’s physiology is unique and different. This means that a medication that works for one patient might not work for another. There is also the risk of side effects that can happen when the treatment does not work as intended. These side effects can include:

  • Perpetual tiredness 
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Body pain
  • Stiffness

It is important to have a licensed professional do a preliminary investigation and tests before going for this option. This makes sure that the patient gets the right treatment for them and to minimize the side effects of a medication approach to Tourette’s.

Therapy

Therapy, like medications, is not a direct cure for tics caused by Tourette’s. Instead of curing it, therapy teaches patients how to properly manage their own tics to prevent the tics from taking over their lives. There are various ways therapy can teach a patient to manage their tics. Two of these are called CBIT or Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention and Speech Therapy. Both of these therapy strategies aim to empower a patient and help them retake control of their lives from Tourette’s Syndrome. 

September 20th, 2019

Posted In: Child Mental Health, Teen Mental Health

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