Anxiety Tics

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anxiety tics

One thing most of us have in common is the desire to be in control of our own mind and body. When your mind and/or body begins to work against that feeling, it is incredibly frustrating and confusing.

What is causing these involuntary movements?

Why is this happening to me?

Or even worse: Why is this happening to my child?

These involuntary movements are possibly something known as tics.

What Is a Tic?

Tics are sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly. These tics are involuntary, meaning that the person with the tics can’t control them. They can be a symptoms of many anxiety disorders. In Delaware, it is estimated that 1 in 8 people suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. Some examples of common tics include motor tics and vocal tics.

Motor Tics

Motor tics are the tics that are related to movement. These are spasm-like movements that involve the face, mouth, neck, eyes, and shoulders. There are simple motor tics and complex motor tics. Simple motor tics involve moving one muscle group or body part, and some of these tics include:

  • Head twitches or head jerks
  • Squatting and hopping
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Quick eye blinks or eye jerks

Complex motor tics are a series of movements that involve more than one muscle group or even a combination of simple motor tics. Complex motor tics can include:

  • Gyrating movements or obscene gestures
  • Facial grimacing
  • Touching people or things

Vocal Tics

Vocal tics are unintentional sounds that are made by someone. Much like motor tics, there are simple and complex vocal tics as well. Simple vocal tics are utterances of a simple sound. Such utterances can be:

  • Coughing
  • Grunting
  • Sniffing
  • Hissing
  • Barking

Complex vocal tics typically involve words or more complicated speech patterns. These complex vocal tics could be:

  • Yelling
  • Calling out
  • Animal sounds
  • Repeating words and phrases

Tics vs. Twitches

Tics can be overlooked because of the prevalence of other involuntary muscle movements known as twitches. Many times we may see a tic and think it is simply a nerve or muscle twitch.

The difference between tics and twitches is small, but it can be found with some help. When seeking answers, it is best to find the feelings both before and after the involuntary movement.

With the help of a medical professional, you may be able to find the answer in how you feel prior to the tic and how you feel after. If after the movement you find relief, you are likely dealing with a nervous tic that will need further judgment.

Tics can happen due to anxiety, but there are certain conditions that could cause these as well. One of those conditions is transient tic disorder.

Transient Tic Disorder

Transient tic disorder appears most commonly among children. According to research from Texas Children’s Hospital, “up to 24% of children have transient [temporary] tics. It is estimated that between one and 10 per 1,000 children and adolescents have chronic tics.”

This specific tic disorder is marked by a person having one or more tics present in their daily life for at least one month but less than a full year.

A majority of tics caused by transient tic disorder are motor tics, but vocal tics are also possible.

Many times, children that have transient tics will have them multiple times in their childhood. However, the tics may not show up again in their adulthood.

Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorders

Chronic motor or vocal tic disorders are just as they sound. These are more serious than transient tics but can still be treated with professional help.

Chronic tic disorder is marked by the presence of one or more tics happening for a long-lasting period of time. Essentially, they last longer and are more persistent than what was described above under transient tics.

These tics may be either motor or vocal, but not both.

Tourette Syndrome

The most known disorder involving tics is Tourette syndrome (TS). This condition is a nervous system disorder that can be confused with chronic tic disorder.

While chronic tic disorder shows up as motor OR vocal tics, Tourette syndrome is marked by the presence of both motor tics and vocal tics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TS affects more children than adults, just like other tic syndromes.

We do not know exactly how many children have TS, but it is estimated that one in every 162 children has TS. Many of these cases are undiagnosed.

The severity of Tourette syndrome often changes throughout childhood and possibly adulthood. There may be periods of reduced tic frequency followed by heightened tic activity. Fortunately, many people with Tourette syndrome find that their condition improves as they get older and with the help of medical treatment.

Slowing Tics

If experiencing tics from anxiety, it is best to seek out the assistance of a medical professional. While this is a scary thing to face, be assured that tics can heal on their own. Having the help of a professional in the medical field will simply assist with slowing the tics and not allowing them to get out of hand.

According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, tics do not always need to be treated if they’re mild, but treatments are available if they’re severe or are interfering with everyday life.

Tics often go away or improve on their own. Severe tics, if untreated, can eventually cause further issues in social settings.

Tics can be slowed by practicing things like avoiding stress, avoiding tiredness, and trying to ignore the tics.

Treatment for Tics

Treating tics can be tricky, but there is hope for answers. As with many things, treatment for tics can vary greatly simply based on the severity of the tics.

Thankfully, many times tics resolve themselves — especially in young children.

For those cases where treatment is needed, doctors may prescribe either behavioral therapy or medication, or both. While behavioral therapy helps people learn the causes for their tics and ways to manage them, medication can help reduce the frequency and severity of tics. Each or both can improve a person’s quality of life.

Call SUN Delaware Today

If you or a loved one is having what you believe to be tics due to anxiety or another condition, SUN Delaware can help.

Our experienced and highly skilled staff will be able to help you uncover potential causes and find ways to deal with these tics. With treatment for anxiety disorders at our facility in Georgetown, you will be able to uncover the reason and help slow tics.

Start the process of finding answers by giving us a call today at (302) 604-5600.

FAQs:

Can you get tics from anxiety?

Yes. Tics can happen randomly from things such as anxiety, stress, depression, tiredness, excitement, and/or happiness.

How can I stop my anxiety tics?

According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, tics do not always need to be treated if they’re mild, but treatments are available if they’re severe or are interfering with everyday life.

Tics often go away or improve on their own. Severe tics, if untreated, can eventually cause further issues in social settings.

Tics can be slowed by practicing things like avoiding stress, avoiding tiredness, and trying to ignore the tics.

How common are tics with anxiety?

According to Novant Health, roughly three to eight people out of 1,000 suffer from what are commonly called “nervous tics.” However, most people with tics are not nervous or struggling with anxiety. Tics are often caused by a medical condition, and that’s why seeking professional advice is recommended.

Tics are far more common in young children than adults. According to Texas Children’s Hospital, “up to 24% of children have transient [temporary] tics. It is estimated that between one and 10 per 1,000 children and adolescents have chronic tics.”