Associated Mental Health Issues
Tourette Syndrome (TS) rarely comes alone and it's probably unsurprising that someone with TS can also experience one or more mental health conditions. We have compiled some basic information on the most common below.
For information on how these conditions may present when combined with Tourette’s, and how to manage this, please get in touch through our social media pages or the contact form on the website.
For information on other common conditions that can co-occur (such as ADHD, Dyslexia, etc), please see our Co-occurring Conditions page.
For more in-depth information on any of the co-occurring conditions listed, we have compiled a list of useful websites for the Scottish or UK charities who specialise in each condition. Please see our external links page for details.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition that affects 1.2% of the population. The person with OCD experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, commonly referred to as obsessions.
Obsessions are very distressing and result in a person carrying out repetitive behaviours or rituals to prevent a perceived harm and/or worry that preceding obsessions have focused their attention on. Such behaviours include avoidance of people, places or objects and constant reassurance seeking, sometimes the rituals will be internal mental counting, checking of body parts, or blinking, all of these are compulsions.
Compulsions do bring some relief to the distress caused by the obsessions, but that relief is temporary and reoccurs each time a person’s obsessive thought/fear is triggered. Sometimes over time the compulsions can become more of a habit where the original obsessive fear and worry has been forgotten, in this instance compulsions are often completed to enable the individual to feel ‘just right’, the key word being ‘feel’.
Tourettic OCD is very similar to OCD. Instead of having to complete a ritual to prevent a perceived harm, a person with Tourettic OCD will have to complete a tic or series of tics until they feel just right.
(Ref: OCD UK)
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems, with one in ten people in Scotland diagnosed with the illness at some point in their lives. Depression is different from just feeling down or unhappy, as the feelings associated with depression are often far more intense and can stay with people for extended periods of time.
Depression affects people in different ways, but commonly leads to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, anxiety and negativity.
Mild depression doesn’t stop people from leading normal lives, but it can make everything feel more difficult. At its most extreme depression can be life threatening if it causes people to feel suicidal. Common symptoms of depression include:
Lack of energy and concentration.
Feeling low, sad.
Lack of feelings.
Disrupted sleep e.g., insomnia, sleeping for long periods.
Feeling distant/isolated from people.
(Ref: See Me Scotland)
Most people can relate to feeling tense, uncertain and perhaps fearful at the thought of sitting an exam, going into hospital, attending an interview or starting a new job.
In turn, worries can affect your sleep, appetite and ability to concentrate. If everything goes well, the anxiety will go away. This type of short-term anxiety can be useful. Feeling nervous before an exam can make you feel more alert and enhance your performance. However, if the feelings of anxiety overwhelm you, your ability to concentrate and do well may suffer. If the anxiety stays at a high level for a long time, you may feel that it is difficult to deal with everyday life. The anxiety may become severe; you may feel powerless, out of control, as if you are about to die or go mad. Sometimes, if the feelings overwhelm you, you may experience a panic attack.
A panic attack is an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. It is the rapid build-up of overwhelming sensations, such as a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, swearing, nausea, chest pains, breathing discomfort and so on. If you experience this, you may fear that you are going mad, blacking out, or having a heart attack.
Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that negatively affect a person's relationship with food. Anyone, no matter what their age, gender, or background, can develop one. It’s important to remember that eating disorders are not all about food itself, but about feelings. The way eating disorders present themselves can be hugely varied from person to person. This means eating disorders can be difficult to identify, and often those suffering can appear healthy despite being unwell.
Some examples of eating disorders include bulimia, binge eating disorder, and anorexia. It is a myth that someone must be underweight to have an eating disorder. There is no single cause and people might not have all symptoms for any one eating disorder. Many people are diagnosed with “other specified feeding or eating disorder” or OSFED. Common Experiences of Eating Disorders:
Worrying about losing control over what you’re eating.
Controlling your eating habits to the extent they impact on your family and social life, work and studies, what you would call as your normal life activities.
Being secretive about food and eating.
Skewed body image.
Changes in mood.
Rigid rules around food and eating and what would be considered odd behaviours around food, for example only eating at certain times.
Binging on and purging food.
Eating a lot of food very fast.
Avoiding socialising when you think food will be involved.
(Ref: See Me Scotland)
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria
Aside from being emotional, people with ADHD are also super sensitive. This can be because of Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD). This mental disorder is an intense sensitivity to the impression of being rejected, harassed, or criticised. Keep in mind that it isn’t necessarily the reality; instead, it’s how these people feel about themselves.
RSD causes severe emotional pain that is also present once the person senses failure, or not being able to finish a task on time. It is also triggered once a person fails to reach either their own standards or the expectations of others.
(Ref: ADHD Centre)
Dermatillomania or excoriation disorder is a skin picking disorder where you can’t stop picking at your own skin. Whilst most people pick at their skin occasionally, you may have skin picking disorder if you:
Regularly pick at your skin
Involuntary pick where you don’t always realise you’re picking.
Pick at your skin during times of stress and anxiety.
Find the picking causes bruising, cuts or bleeding.
(Ref: OCD UK)
Trichotillomania is a condition that leads to an overwhelming urge to pull out hair. There are several different forms of Trichotillomania:
Focused hair pulling, when someone pulls out hair intentionally. This type of Trichotillomania can include specific rituals, including pulling certain types of hair.
Automatic hair pulling, when people pull hair without being fully conscious of what they are doing.
Mixed hair pulling, which combines aspects of both types.
Trichotillomania is more common in teenagers and young adults and tends to affect girls more often than boys.
(Ref: Alopecia UK)