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Is My Behavior Classifiable as a Tic Disorder?

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From the U.S.: I’m 19 and have made noises or repetitive movements for as long as I can remember. But, they aren’t persistent. The longest “tic” I’ve had lasted from when I was at least 5 up to age 13. I used to flair my arms toward my shoulders before doing anything. The only reason I can think that made me stop was just because I grew out of it.

Since then, they now only last a few minutes to a couple weeks or more. Depending on the day, I can make several noises over and over throughout the entire day, and some days I’m quiet. Lately I will whimper like my dog (originally i was just mocking the noise she makes but now I do it) and roll my tongue and scream. People I know don’t even question it though. I make noises at work all day and my coworkers will either ignore me, try to copy the noise I made, or laugh jokingly tell me I’m weird.

I don’t think I have tourettes. Could it just be related to energy, anxiety and boredom? I do deal with a lot of anxiety daily. Or maybe it’s an OCD thing? Like, if I make a noise that sits right with me that day I’ll keep doing it. It doesn’t both me. The only time it does is when I avoid making noises so I’ll start touching things. And for me, if I’m feeling particularly stressed and anxious, I’ll pull strands of hair (I used to suffer with trichotillomania) or smack my stomach and drum on things.

It makes me wonder if the noises is tied to an actual disorder? Or is this something people do this all the time? I’d just like a name for it or have a term to explain why if someone asks or just tell them it’s normal.

Is My Behavior Classifiable as a Tic Disorder?

Answered by on -


You already know this isn’t “normal” since the people around you don’t have the same habits. Those noises and touching rituals are not something that people do all the time. Although it is certainly possible that your behaviors are simply strategies you learned to help you deal with anxiety, it is also possible that you have some version of Tourettes. It could be both.

It is not unusual for someone with Tourettes to find that anxiety increases the number and intensity of tics. It’s not unusual for the behaviors of Tourettes to decrease as people get older.

Please make an appointment to talk to a mental health counselor who has experience with Tourettes. I think you owe it to yourself to get some answers. With help, you may also learn how to deal with anxiety and to have more control over the tics.

In the meantime, this fact sheet might give you some answers as well:

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Is My Behavior Classifiable as a Tic Disorder?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Is My Behavior Classifiable as a Tic Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 3 Mar 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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