The Lives of Women with Tourette’s Syndrome

According to a story from Medical Xpress, living with Tourette’s syndrome can be a unique challenge, especially for women. The condition, which is characterized by repetitive involuntary movement or vocal “tics” is substantially more common in men. Regardless, as with all patients with chronic illnesses, women have learned to engage with their diagnosis in a variety of ways.

About Tourette’s Syndrome

Tourette’s syndrome, often known simply as Tourette’s, is an unusual disorder of neurodevelopment that is defined by the appearance of tics, which are brief involuntary sounds or movements. Patients often present with multiple tics that can vary substantially in severity. Most cases are mild and barely noticeable by casual observers. The precise cause of Tourette’s syndrome remains unknown; the condition may be heritable in some cases, and it has been well established that both environmental and genetic factors play a role. Treatment for Tourette’s syndrome may include cognitive behavioral therapy, education, and, in severe cases, certain medications. There is no cure for the condition. Symptoms resolve in many patients as they near adulthood. Severe cases of Tourette’s, such as those in which tics include outbursts of profanity, have occasionally gained attention over social media. Mental health problems may develop in patients with severe Tourette’s. To learn more about Tourette’s syndrome, click here.

Living With Tourette’s

Harpist Sara Henya is an example of a woman with a severe case of Tourette’s. Her tics are more pronounced than most and may include hitting her own chest or face and profane outbursts. However, despite these difficulties, Sara says that she is thankful for her condition and that she would prefer to live with it than without. Tourette’s syndrome has been central to the formation of Sara’s own unique perspective.

Social pressures and expectations placed on women can exacerbate the mental burden that a condition like Tourette’s places on the patient. There has also been less research focused on women with the condition and it is likely that the disorder presents differently. Barbara Coffey of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine says that many of the most severe cases of Tourette’s that she has seen are in older women, suggesting that the trend of decreasing symptoms with age may not be universally true.

Carolyn Baldwin has become a Tourette’s syndrome advocate after three of her children were diagnosed, including her oldest daughter Anna. She says explaining and destigmatizing the condition is critical.

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