Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes patients to make involuntary sounds or repetitive movements they have trouble controlling. Some common tics or movements associated with this condition include blinking the eyes, shrugging the shoulders, making loud sounds, or saying offensive words. The first tics usually begin between two and fifteen years old, with six years old being the average age of onset.
While the condition doesn't have a cure, there are multiple available treatments. Many patients don't require treatment if their symptoms don't cause problems. Tics often become more easily controlled and less severe after the teen years. The main symptoms of Tourette syndrome are tics that vary in severity. There are simple and complex tics, and tics may be muscle-related or vocal.
Certain types of psychotherapy can be effective in helping patients manage the severity and frequency of tics. One technique is called comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics, commonly abbreviated CBIT. In the past, the only method of treating Tourette syndrome was through the use of medication. However, recently published research has shown psychotherapy can also be helpful. While there isn't a thorough understanding of what exactly causes Tourette syndrome, these studies imply the brain can be shaped by environmental stimuli as well as medication.
Comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics was first researched and developed in 2001. CBIT programs utilize three important components. First, they teach the patient to be aware of their tics. They then teach patients to engage in competing or alternate behavior when the urge to tic arises. Third, the medical professionals work with the patient and their family to make changes to their day-to-day life and environment to reduce tics.