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Transient Tic Disorder

Transient Tic Disorder

Alternate Names

  • motor twitches
  • motor tics
  • vocal tics


Transient tic disorders are characterized by a single or many motor tics. Tics are brief, rapid, repetitive movements often resembling nervous mannerisms.

What is going on in the body?

Tics are typically simple twitches of muscle. There is a huge range in severity. Most mild, transient tic disorders are never brought to the attention of a healthcare professional.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Transient tic disorders are more common in children. Tics are made worse by stress and usually go away during sleep.


What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no known prevention for tics.


How is the condition diagnosed?

The diagnosis of transient tic disorder is made when a person experiences the symptoms. The tic must occur every day for at least 4 weeks for the diagnosis to be made. Physical causes of tics should be ruled out.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

Transient tics tend to disappear on their own over a period of months.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Tics are not contagious, and pose no risk to others.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Transient tics usually do not require treatment. It is recommended that family members try to ignore the tics at first, because unwanted attention may make the tics worse. If tics cause problems in school or work, behavioral therapy may be used. Medications such as clonidine and phenothiazine may be effective in suppressing tics.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Phenothiazine may cause slow rhythmic, automatic movements known as tardive dyskinesia. Clonidine and phenothiazine may cause drowsiness and a drop in blood pressure upon standing, called orthostatic hypotension.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

The tics usually disappear over a period of months.


How is the condition monitored?

The person affected or the person's family can monitor transient tics. A healthcare professional should be notified if the tic becomes disruptive in the person's daily activities, or about any other new or worsening symptoms.


Professional Guide to Diseases: 6th edition, 1998

Stuart and Sundeen, Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing: 4th edition, 1991

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, 1994

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