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Feature Article

Managing tic disorders: an update on Tourette syndrome

Valsamma Eapen, Perminder Sachdev

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Abstract

Tourette syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by multiple motor and vocal tics. Often seen in school-aged children, the syndrome can mimic many hyperkinetic disorders, making diagnosis challenging. Prompt and early diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment can improve the quality of life of affected individuals.

Key Points

  • Tourette syndrome is a relatively common disorder affecting up to 1% of the population, but the diagnosis can often be missed.
  • Characteristic features of Tourette syndrome include both multiple motor tics and one or more vocal tics that have been present for more than a year.
  • Tics can be successfully treated with dopamine antagonists, alpha-adrenergic agonists or atypical antipsychotic agents.
  • Common comorbid conditions include obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which may necessitate treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and stimulants (with caution), respectively.
  • Although counselling, supportive psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy for Tourette syndrome and associated symptoms may be beneficial, formal psychotherapy is not recommended for patients with tic disorders.

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