The Daily Mail is reporting today that there has been a a sudden upsurge of physical and vocal convulsions among teenagers, particularly girls. It’s been dubbed “ticcing.”
According to the NHS, tics are repetitive muscle movements that result in sudden body jolts or involuntary sounds that are difficult to control. Common examples are blinking, grimacing, sudden jerks, and repetitive sounds or phrases.
John Naish, writing in today’s Daily Mail says:
However, in the wake of the pandemic, British clinicians are reporting a new kind of tic disorder that is far more extreme and comes on much more quickly. It is affecting teenagers and young adults, rather than children, and primarily strikes females.
The consensus among experts is that the condition may be a result of the psychological pressures of lockdown, with pandemic fear and climate change causing susceptible young people to ‘catch’ tics from social media influencers who expose their own symptoms online.
Dr Tammy Hedderly, a consultant paediatric neurologist at the Evelina London NHS Children’s Hospital, told Good Health: ‘We have at least doubled our referral rate for tics in the past few months, with more than 70 young girls being sent for professional help. It is a very concerning number.
‘As specialists, we’re seeing only the very severely affected cases, and it’s a small group of what could be much larger numbers.’
As well as appearing more in girls — and in a later age group than normally seen — the new tic condition’s symptoms are markedly different, says Dr Hedderly.
‘Normally tics have a gradual onset, but the new ones appear suddenly,’ she says. ‘These patients are typically presenting from the age of 13 to 15 with florid attacks that appear overnight.
‘And instead of being face and eye tics [such as twitching and eye rolling] they are full-body flailing movements and sometimes sudden-onset vocal tics, repetitive words and noises.’
Similar outbreaks are being reported by specialists in the United States, Germany, Denmark, France and Canada.
Last month, German psychiatrists sparked headlines by claiming that teenagers are ‘catching’ tics from social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram, where they watch influencers with Tourette’s syndrome (a disorder characterised by extreme tics and which, in rare cases, involves offensive or obscene utterances).
Kirsten Müller-Vahl is a professor of psychiatry at Hannover Medical School in Germany. She believes that the phenomenon should be labelled as a “mass social media-induced illness.”
She told The Daily Mail that Germany is seeing a similar outbreak of tics as to those reported in the UK.
Müller-Vahl claims that some followers of a social media influencer called Jans Timmerman, who has mild Tourette’s syndrome, have developed “similar or identical functional Tourette-like behaviours” to Timmerman’s.
His videos have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. Müller-Vahl claims that over the past two years, a “remarkably high number” of young patients have been referred to her Tourette’s clinic.
NHS experts have expressed scepticism at the claim that social media is to blame. Here’s a link to the full article: