Reports of teens exhibiting Tiktok tics-like behaviours after viewing stream of videos highlight an aspect of mental health that most of us overlook: symptoms can be social.
Experts point out that while seeing a few Tourette’s videos won’t likely cause someone to get a tic, the TikTok algorithm may generate a stream of similar videos to appear on the app.
What are Tiktok Tics?
The Tiktok tics are similar to those observed in Tourette syndrome, a neurological condition characterized by uncontrollable movements and vocal noises. Tourette’s syndrome, on the other hand, is four times more common in males than in girls and usually begins between the ages of 5 and 10.
Throughout the pandemic, doctors began to notice an increase in the number of teenage girls who were developing verbal and motor tics. They’d yell the same phrases over and over, seemingly at random, while flapping or jerking their arms. As doctors from different parts of the world started communicating with one another, they found they were seeing the same thing – all over the world.
Social Media May be Contributing to the spread of Tics
Rebecca Lester, a professor of sociocultural anthropology at Washington University who researches psychiatry, religion, and gender, told me, “Symptoms are a method of expression.” “We learn how to articulate our sorrow in diverse cultural settings, even local settings.”
Mental illness isn’t like the measles, which has the same symptoms everywhere it goes. Because emotional experiences differ greatly depending on time and place, so do symptoms.
What to do if you found your teen in Tourette’s like Tic
Make an appointment with a neurologist. Autoimmune disorders can also cause sudden beginnings of aberrant movement, so being checked out by a doctor is a good idea.
Take steps to manage and reduce anxiety and stress. Tics can become worse if a person is stressed or anxious.
Take a break from your social media accounts. According to The Wall Street Journal, teens with tics should avoid watching videos of other people with tics.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. It’s possible that if you focus on the tics or talk about them too much, they’ll get worse.
When behavioral therapy alone is ineffective, patients with Tourette syndrome can benefit from medication. Of course, it can take some time for therapy to take effect and for patients to see its effects. Teens can learn to address and manage their stress and, by extension, their tics with time, care, and attention.