Understanding what really happens to those who experience nervous tics is key when it comes to supporting them and finding proper treatment.
Technically, tics are involuntarily movements or actions the person cannot control or produce intentionally. They are sudden, repetitive and are also short-lasting.
Tics are classified into two large groups: motor tics and vocal tics. This first group consists of contractions caused by muscle movement, the most common of which occur in the face: most easily recognized as twitches or movements of the mouth, eyes or eyebrows. The second group, vocal tics, consist of expressions, insults, whistles or a clearing of the throat.
Tics may happen for different reasons, ranging from psychological causes, to behavioral disorders, to pathological disorders; which is why it is important to correctly understand and diagnose them.
The majority of tics do not interfere in daily life and do not need to be treated. The most common tic is transient tic disorder and affects up to 10% of school-age children. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, it is common for this disorder to be detected by teachers, but as its name indicates, it is a type of tic that disappears on its own.
When tics are too repetitive, causing strong pains, or if they occur along with behavioral disorders, it is best to visit a specialist.
Depending on the diagnosis, a specific drug treatment may be prescribed; or if the tic is part of a psychological disorder and not of a certain illness, relaxation therapy and support may be useful to reduce the level of stress on the patient and to help them become more aware of their involuntary movements, understanding what may be causing them and therefore allowing to work on the root cause.