Treatment Options for Tourette Syndrome (TS)

The majority of people with TS require no medication, but medication is available to help when symptoms interfere with functioning. TS medications are only able to help reduce specific symptoms. Neuroleptic and antihypertensive drugs can have long- and short-term adverse effects, and use of stimulants is controversial. Current prescribed stimulant medications include: methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Metadate®, Concerta®), dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), and mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall®). The alpha 2-adrenergic agonists include clonidine (Catapres®) and guanfacine (Tenex®). SSRIs, a class of antidepressants, may be prescribed when a TS patient is triggered by symptoms of OCD.

Researchers are also investigating the use of nicotine patches as a treatment. Researchers are seeking a substitute that can target brain disorders in the same way, without the risks.

In February 2004, surgeons in the US successfully carried out a brain surgery in which tiny electrodes, powered by batteries inserted in the chest, were placed beside the thalamus in each cerebral hemisphere. Within half a minute of activating the electrodes, the patient could walk normally and displayed a complete lack of symptoms. This surgery is not a cure; it is regarded as an experimental and dangerous procedure, and is unlikely to become widespread.

In any case, the condition in many individuals improves as they mature. statistics have shown that most children improve with maturity. Regardless of symptoms, individuals with TS can expect to live a normal life span. Although TS is generally lifelong and chronic, it is not degenerative. In a few cases, complete remission, as stated previously above, occurs after adolescence, and in most cases, tic severity subsides as one passes through adolescence.

A lifetime of living with TS generally gives one survival skills to manage the disorder. Many persons with Tourette's syndrome have learned to cover-up the more socially inappropriate tics; or use them to their advantage - such as in the case of musicians. Some drummers, in particular, have found that TS "Tics" give them a certain 'flair' or 'special sound' to their drumming!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be used to try to disrupt the automatic chain of events underlying the tics. Relaxation techniques may also be useful in relieving the stress that may aggravate tics