Is Tourette Syndrome contagious?

Thanks to a controversial documentary aired by Channel 4 recently, concern has grown about Tourette being contagious.

In short- it isn’t. However for those with the condition, being around other people with tics can cause tics to worsen. 

UK charity Tourette’s Action has released a response to the latest documentary: Britain’s Tourette’s Mystery.

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In the documentary, the presenter Scarlett Moffatt declares she has experienced tics in the past, although there is no mention as to what caused this.

However, she is worried she may ‘catch it again’.

This has led viewers to speculate whether they can catch tics, with no previous experience of tics. 

Some sufferers have also found that the show has made people more fearful of being around them.

Tics aren't contagious

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition. It is known to be genetic, and often presents around the age of 6. 

Tics aren’t the result of an airborne disease, or transmitted through touch. 

There are reasons however as to why some people may have been led to believe it can be ‘caught’.

Tics can get worse when looking at other people with tics, or reading about them

For those already showing symptoms, tics can be made worse in certain situations.

Stress can make tics worse. With that, seeing someone else suffering with tics can increase the severity and frequency of our own.

Tics are often co-occurring with other conditions such as OCD. 

Tics can be a result of- or be influenced by- obsessional behaviour. Many people find their tics involve things they would least like to do or say, and it is no surprise that tics manifest from other people’s tics.

Social media may help people realise they have a tic disorder

Sadly, many children are still unaware of what causes their behaviour. Often through parents disciplining them, or assuming tics are examples of bad behaviour.

Social media may be the answer they have needed, seeing other people describe their experience and condition. 

It is not always a case of social media creating new tics for people with tic disorders, but also helping people realise they may indeed have a tic disorder.

Social media has given many sufferers a voice

It may seem like there is an increase in people with tic disorders. In reality, social media has given more people a voice.

For decades, people have suffered with tics in their own communities. Now these people have a worldwide audience.

The number of people with tic disorders may be growing, but this could simply be down to more awareness of them, and easier access to social media. 

Tic disorders being contagious is not the case here.

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