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World Mental Health Day Monday 10th October

Posted on 7 October 2016


Research finds a higher risk of suicide in people with TS in Sweden


This October, to coincide with World Mental Health Day (Monday 10th October), Tourettes Action are raising awareness around Tourette Syndrome (TS) or Chronic Tic Disorder (CTD)* and mental health.

People with Tourette Syndrome or Chronic Tic Disorder may feel sad or depressed but it is unknown if depression is as a result of the tic disorder or a response to the difficulties experienced living with the condition. For some people with TS these feelings can be very deep and intense and in some cases may lead to self-harm or attempts to end their life.
It is important to be aware that people with TS can be particularly vulnerable to feeling suicidal. Such feelings can be dominating, with anxiety about the future, career and academic pressures and how they are coping with their symptoms. TS/CTD is a disabling condition for some but the impact of this is not always recognised. For example, we do not know what the risk of suicide is in people with TS/CTD. A recent study has addressed this.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden used population databases and The National Patient Register to provide an epidemiological measure of the national suicide risk in people with TD/CTD compared to the population in general. Over the last 44 years, 7,736 people with TD/CTD were recorded as having attended hospital – the largest cohort of tic patients in the world.  Of these, 32 had died by suicide (0.4%) during this period. Although this is a comparatively small figure, it was higher than the general population of Sweden (0.1%). In other words, patients with TD/CTD were four times more likely to have committed suicide. The same conclusion was made for attempted suicide; 8% with TD/CTD had attempted suicide at least once compared to 2% of the general population. The main predictor of suicide was persistence of tics beyond young adulthood (defined as age 19 and above); other predictors were a previous suicide attempt and the additional diagnosis of a personality disorder. This research is methodologically robust. It identifies an under-recognised mental health need in people with TD/CTD.   The researchers recommend that suicidal thinking and behaviour should be carefully assessed, monitored and acted upon, particularly in those whose tics persist into adulthood.


LINK to research paper

Tourettes Action believes that although this is a sensitive subject it is one which needs to be brought to the attention of the public as well as funders, health professionals and policy makers.
If you are feeling depressed you should visit your doctor or clinician to discuss how they can help you. You can also read about the condition on the NHS website, Young Minds website, or the Samaritans.

* Chronic tic disorder - either single or multiple motor or phonic tics, but not both, which are present for more than a year 


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