How can a Tourette’s diagnosis impact your mental health?

7th June is Tourette’s Awareness Day. Tourette’s syndrome, commonly referred to as Tourette’s, is a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. The condition is named after Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, a French neurologist who first described the syndrome in 1885.

Tourette syndrome primarily presents through involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations called tics, which typically appear in childhood between the ages of 5 and 10.

These tics are categorised as motor tics, such as eye blinking, facial grimacing, or shoulder shrugging, and vocal tics, such as throat clearing, grunting, or repeating words.

The severity and frequency of tics can vary widely among individuals and may change over time. Many people with Tourette syndrome also experience co-occurring conditions like ADHD, OCD, and anxiety, which can further impact their daily functioning and quality of life.

Tourette syndrome can significantly impact mental health in various ways, both directly and indirectly. Here are some ways it can affect an individual’s mental well-being day-to-day.

  1. Anxiety and Stress:
    • The unpredictability and uncontrollability of tics can cause considerable anxiety and stress, particularly in social or public situations where individuals may feel self-conscious, or fear being judged.
  2. Depression:
    • Persistent tics and associated social difficulties can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and depression. The chronic nature of the condition and its impact on daily life can contribute to these feelings.
  3. Social Isolation:
    • Children and adults with Tourette syndrome might face bullying, teasing, or social rejection due to their tics, leading to social isolation and loneliness.
  4. Low Self-Esteem:
    • The social challenges and misunderstandings about the condition can result in low self-esteem and poor self-image. Individuals may feel embarrassed or ashamed of their tics.
  5. Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders:
    • Tourette syndrome is often associated with other mental health conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and anxiety disorders. These co-occurring conditions can compound the impact on mental health and complicate treatment.
  6. Behavioural Problems:
    • The frustration and emotional stress caused by tics and their social implications can lead to behavioural issues, such as acting out or withdrawing from social interactions.
  7. Academic and Occupational Challenges:
    • The presence of tics and associated conditions can interfere with concentration and performance in school or at work, leading to additional stress and mental health issues.
  8. Sleep Disturbances:
    • Tics can interfere with sleep, leading to sleep deprivation, which can exacerbate mental health problems, including mood swings and increased anxiety.

Addressing the mental health impacts of Tourette syndrome often requires a comprehensive approach, including behavioural therapy, counselling, support groups, and, when necessary, medication to manage both tics and associated mental health conditions. Providing education and support to family, friends, and peers is also crucial in creating a supportive environment for individuals with Tourette syndrome.

On the 7th June, people around the world will be helping raise awareness about Tourette’s Syndrome. To find out more about TS Awareness Day, visit


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