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"Are nervous tics psychological or physical in nature?"

ZocdocAnswersAre nervous tics psychological or physical in nature?


I have this tic that I've had since I was a kid where I kind of twitch my neck from side to side. It feels involuntary like I just have to do it. Is there a physical reason I would do this or is it just a mental problem? I'm 22 and don't want to do this for the rest of my life.


Tic disorders are very common. They do tend to start in childhood and they do tend to get better over time. However, if you are still having trouble at 22 years of age and if you feel that this is interfering with your life then it is time to see your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist for evaluation and treatment. Tic disorders are based in biology, meaning that they tend to have a genetic component. Although we do not understand exactly what causes them, it probably has something to do with how commands for muscle movement are generated and suppressed inside the brain. There is also a psychological and social component, because tics tend to get worse when a person is nervous, stressed, or otherwise under pressure. There are medications that can be used to effectively control tic disorders, and this is something that your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist will be able to discuss with you. It can also be helpful to have counseling, because learning to control stress and to develop cognitive 'tricks' to suppress the tics is very important for having a good outcome. Start by setting up a visit with your doctor today and good luck.

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