More Than Just Tourettes

More than Just TourettesA number of the conversations I’ve had with individual with Tourettes have been about comorbid (coexisting) disorders. When people with Tourettes have perhaps gotten used to their tics, the symptoms of other disorders, such as ADHD, OCD, rage, or depression can often bother people who don’t know why they’re there. Hyperactivity, obsessions, compulsions, rage tantrums, and anxiety attacks can be disturbing when they seem to come out of nowhere.

Technically, a Tourettes diagnosis does not include any of those symptoms. According to the Center of Disease Control, the DSM-V requires that Tourette Syndrome can only be diagnosed when an individual:

  • has developed the symptoms by the age of 18
  • has at least 2 motor tics and at least 1 vocal tic (although they don’t need to be present at the same time)
  • has had tics that last more than a year
  • the tics cannot be due to a medication or another medical condition

Obviously, these requirements don’t say anything about any of the other symptoms we listed above, so why do so many individuals with Tourette Syndrome struggle with symptoms from other disorders?

The Psychiatric Times article, “Tourettes Syndrome,” says, “Tourette Syndrome is rarely At Least one other disorder than Tourettesconsidered in isolation; its clinical picture is often influenced by closely related conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, impulse discontrol, and affective disorders.”

Dr. Leslie E. Packer wrote the article, “Tourette’s Syndrome: Comorbid or Associated Disorders.” In it, she opens with, “The vast majority of children and teens with Tourette’s Syndrome who are seen in clinical settings also have symptoms of other disorders or conditions. Community samples also indicate that the majority of individuals with TS do not have ‘just TS.'”

They’re not sure why individuals with Tourettes are so likely to have co-occurring disorders, but the facts are there. I personally have symptoms of OCD and free-floating anxiety, and my struggles are mild in comparison to other individuals I’ve spoken with. The Oxford Journal article, “Tourette syndrome, associated conditions, and the complexities of treatment,” says that while comorbid conditions are constantly being described, experts aren’t sure whether the associated behaviors truly represent the “genetic expression of the TS ‘gene.'”

Tourette syndrome is rarely considered in isolation: its clinical picture is often influenced by closely related conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, impulse discontrol, and affective disorders. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/tourette-syndrome#sthash.c3xTiGGB.dpuf
Tourette syndrome is rarely considered in isolation: its clinical picture is often influenced by closely related conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, impulse discontrol, and affective disorders. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/tourette-syndrome#sthash.c3xTiGGB.dpuf
Tourette syndrome is rarely considered in isolation: its clinical picture is often influenced by closely related conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, impulse discontrol, and affective disorders. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/tourette-syndrome#sthash.c3xTiGGB.dpuf
Tourette syndrome is rarely considered in isolation: its clinical picture is often influenced by closely related conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, impulse discontrol, and affective disorders. – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/tourette-syndrome#sthash.c3xTiGGB.dpuf

What are the disorders most found with Tourette Syndrome?

  1. ADHD – According to the Science Daily article, “Tourette Syndrome And ADHD Frequently Occur Together,” from the University of Calvary says that ADHD is the most common disorder to occur with Tourette Syndrome.
  2. OCD – Psychiatric Times says that OCD could possibly occur in up to to 80% of people with Tourettes. An interesting fact, however, is that OCD that occurs on its own is different from OCD that occurs comorbidly with Tourettes.
  3. A study done by the National Centers of Disease Control and Prevention showed that 49% of the participants had anxiety problems (which might or might not include OCD), and 26% had behavioral problems such as ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or Conduct Disorder.

Something to consider is that while there are many other disorders found that occur with tics, is that the Tourettes might not be the main disorder. Rather than some of the other disorders occurring with the Tourettes, Tourettes or tic disorders might occur with the other disorders. Psychiatric Times also says there might be a referral bias in diagnosing comorbid disorders; because doctors are on the watch for other disorders in children with Tourettes, they’re more likely to pick up on smaller symptoms that might have gone unnoticed in children with Tourettes otherwise.

So What’s the Point?

It’s important to take all of this with a grain of salt. Just because a child is diagnosed with Tourettes doesn’t necessarily mean a child will have severe learning or behavioral problems. There are some children who don’t have any symptoms of other disorders at all. It’s just good to know that if other symptoms to show, it’s not unusual. You or your child isn’t alone.

Do you have an experience or advice you’d like to share? Please post it in the Comment Box below. And don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to receive extra resources I don’t include in my blog, encouragement, and a gift as a thank you for signing up. Thanks for reading!

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5 comments

  • Jeannine on August 7, 2014 at 1:18 pm said:

    Brittany,
    I recently stumbled across your blog while digging up information to present to my child’s school as I prepare him, and them, for the new school year for my son who has Tourette’s. What a beautiful blog. For a syndrome that causes so much stress and hardship for children, I love that you include God, His peace, and plan into your space! Your information is presented very well, is informative and accurate. I think you are definitely fulfilling HIS plan and helping others along the way:) Thank You!!

    • brittanyfichterwrites@gmail.com on August 8, 2014 at 4:29 am said:

      Thank you! That is exactly why I work on this blog. When I got into college and wanted to learn how to explain my tics better, I realized it was a lot harder to research than I thought it would be. God has blessed me with a very supportive husband who encourages me to write. If you ever have a request for a blog idea, please send it over because I’m always looking! If you don’t mind, what grade is your son in? Sounds like a pretty brave guy to me!

  • TGG on July 1, 2017 at 12:07 pm said:

    Leslie E. Packer comes off willing to help her patients, however her biggest weakness is that she is unaware how she comes across in sessions. There have been times when the conversations have gotten borderline inappropriate and mean. When it was addresses, it came across that I do not know what I am talking about and I am the one with the problem, not her, and that is the reason why I am in therapy.

    I do not think Leslie E. Packer has a mean bone in her body or has ill intentions. It is very obvious she has the best intent to work with her patients. However, when you are unwilling to listen to a patient(s) on how the therapist is coming across, make promises to patients and then go back on the promise, and do not follow through, it doesn’t come off well to the patient.

    She really needs to be aware on how she comes across and be willing to listen to the patients without shutting them down, thinking its best for the patient. Sometimes it is best to not be so harsh and Albert Ellis with a patient because it creates worse effects.

      • TGG on August 3, 2017 at 8:09 pm said:

        Not personally.

        I think she tries to have the best intentions but doesn’t really her delivery is way off and can be inappropriate. It is very obvious she is passionate about what she believes in. I think she gets too carried away.

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