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Transient Tic Disorder is a condition which is characterized by uncontrollable movements or noises; usually sufferers make brief movements or sounds and these are repeated throughout the day. This condition is common in children, and may be a mild form of Tourette’s Syndrome. The sounds vary from person to person but they include one or more of the following: clicking, hissing, grunting, snorting, throat clearing, squealing, moaning and humming. Movements also vary and these include: sudden head jerking, clenching of the fists, blinking, kicking, eye raising and writhing of the tongue. It is interesting that these tics give the impression of anxiety; indeed, both the movements and sounds worsen during periods of stress and completely disappear at night when asleep. Transient Tic Disorder is one of four Tic Disorders, as below:


1. Tourette’s Syndrome
2. Chronic Motor Disorder
3. Vocal Tic Disorder
4. Transient Tic Disorder

Simple childhood tics normally disappear after a few months, and, indeed, GPs tend not to draw unnecessary attention to these movements because over-analysis may be picked up by the child, with the result that the condition worsens. In the diagnosis, it is important to rule out general anxiety disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Epilepsy. Obsessional thoughts and anxieties, for example, may lead to repetitive movements which are the result of habit rather than an uncontrollable mechanism. However, generally, it is important not to ‘over-medicalize’ OCD, ADHD and other psychological conditions.


David Kraft PhD


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