TikTok Tics: Why teen girls are developing Tourettes-like tics

18 November 2021

Patient stories, Research, Media review

Professor Russell Dale, Clinical Director of Kids Neuroscience Centre, was recently interviewed by Triple J's Hack about why doctors have reported a rise in young women developing unexplainable and debilitating tics during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One in 200 boys will have Tourette's. Kids can also have tics without Tourette's, approximately affecting one in 20 boys. However, Tourette's is considered rare in teen girls.

As told to Hack, Prof Dale noted a rise in referrals for patients with tics in 2020-2021. He also noticed his patients were older, mostly female and symptoms had developed suddenly. 

In a paper Prof Dale co-wrote with colleagues from the US, Canada and the UK, they concluded that in some cases, exposure to tics or tic-like behaviours, such as on TikTok, could be a trigger for what they'd been seeing in their patients.

While Prof Dale agreed social media could be a trigger, "The super important thing to understand is that the vast majority of the young girls and young women have had some previous vulnerability" he said. "Most of them have a history of anxiety or depression, some of them have ADHD, some of them have autism."

Prof Dale said these tics are a response to these vulnerabilities, which have been exacerbated during the pandemic. Read the full article.

Image: courtesy of TikTok and Triple J's Hack.

Patient stories, Research, Media review