Nervous Tics

Information about repetitive, involuntary body movements and nervous tic disorders

nervous tic disorders - repetitive, involuntary body movements info

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  1. What are Nervous Tics?
  2. What Causes Nervous Tics?
  3. Help for Nervous Tics
  4. More Information on Nervous Tics

What are Nervous Tics?

Nervous tics typically develop in children, and while many of them are transient and disappear after a few weeks or months, sometimes nervous tics can become a life-long problem that affects adults. Nervous tics are repeated involuntary contractions of one or more muscles and while many parts of the body can be affected, tics occur most commonly in the muscles of the face, arms and shoulders.

Common nervous tics include excessive blinking, grimaces of the face, and uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms, legs, or other areas. These involuntary jerks generally occur in sudden bouts, and are almost always an unwelcome experience.

Unlike voluntary muscle jerking, nervous tics are very difficult to control, and while some people manage to suppress them for a short time, it usually takes a lot of concentration and can very a very exhausting exercise. In fact, suppressing tics can be described as trying to suppress a sneeze that really wants to come out, and once released; most people feel a sense of relief afterwards.

What Causes Nervous Tics?

The cause of nervous tics is not fully understood, however, there are a number of factors that seem to play a role, including genetics, diet deficiencies (particularly magnesium), anxiety, and certain medications. Other factors such as stress, fatigue, illness, and excitement or over-stimulation can make nervous body movements worse.

Help for Nervous Tics

Nervous tics can be very difficult to manage and while there are a few prescription medications for the condition, most come with unwanted side effects that may even be worse than the tics themselves! Much evidence has shown that there are better ways to help relieve nervous tics without unwanted side effects.

More Information on Nervous Tics

Tips for concerned parents
  • Understand how the tics affect your child and make changes at home and school to best accommodate them.
  • Try not to draw too much attention to your child’s tics and don’t make them overly concerned about them. Doing so will make your child feel more anxious and will more than likely worsen the situation.
  • Keep a record of your child’s tics, (when they get worse and the events that surround them). This may help identify triggers. Be careful not to cause your child more stress – approach this in a way that makes your child feel secure.
  • Realize tics are not done on purpose. Although tics may frustrate you, do not punish your child for having tics, and try not to show any frustration you may feel. Doing so may increase your child’s anxiety and cause more tics.
  • Make sure your child is not having caffeine which is present in sodas, coffee, tea and chocolate.
  • Teach your child how to relax and de-stress. Try teaching your child deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Encourage regular exercise. Sports and outdoor games are great ways to instill a love of exercise which will ultimately reduce stress levels.
  • Ensure that your child is eating enough magnesium. Magnesium rich foods include green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, as well as beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.


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