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ADHD, Tics and Tourette Syndrome

The nice thing about mental health conditions is that you don’t have to choose just one. You may have ADHD, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have anxiety.

Or any other condition, really. Pick a random disorder out of the DSM and there’s a good chance it’s more prevalent among people with ADHD than among people without ADHD.

ADHD and Comorbid Tic DisorderToday, the random disorder I want to talk about is … * draws a mental health condition out of a hat * … Tourette syndrome.

Except it’s not quite random. The reason I bring it up is that an interesting study was just published on ADHD and tic disorders.

Tic disorders, including Tourette syndrome, are conditions where people feel compelled to perform tics. These can include “motor tics” like making a particular movement or “vocal tics” like making a particular sound.

In the study that was just published, researchers tracked several hundred children over the course of three years, paying attention to the children’s ADHD symptoms and tic behaviors.

It turned out that the children with ADHD were far more likely to have tic disorders such as ongoing motor or vocal tics, or Tourette syndrome. And this became even more true as the children got older.

Specifically, when the children were age seven, at the beginning of the study, those with ADHD were a little over four times as likely to have a chronic tic disorder. By the time the children were ten, the ones with ADHD were almost six times as likely to have a tic disorder!

This study focused on children, but just like ADHD isn’t just for kids, neither are tic disorders. In fact, a meta-analysis on the prognosis of Tourette syndrome found that while many people’s symptoms do improve with age, people with untreated ADHD may be at higher risk for having their tic symptoms remain more severe over time.

There’s more research to be done on the exact nature of the link between tic disorders and ADHD, but these recent findings provide more evidence that people with ADHD are more likely to have Tourette syndrome in particular and tic disorders generally. As with other comorbid conditions, it’s important to keep in mind that addressing the ADHD is a necessary part of addressing the other disorder as well.

Image: Flickr/A.Ddiction

ADHD, Tics and Tourette Syndrome

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). ADHD, Tics and Tourette Syndrome. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2019, from


Last updated: 12 Jan 2018
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