Self help

Simple measures such as reducing stress, avoiding tiredness and not drawing attention to tics

  • May help reduce frequency and severity of some tics
  •  None
Behavioural therapy

Therapies that aim to teach you new ways to respond to your urge to tic

  • Reduces the severity of tics in most people
  • No side effects
  • Good results can be difficult to achieve as it requires several treatment sessions with a therapist and commitment to practicing these techniques by yourself after the sessions finish



Medication that blocks the effects of dopamine on the brain. Dopamine is thought to be partially responsible for tic-like behaviour

  • Currently the most effective medication available for preventing tics
  • Tics decrease in about 70% of cases
  • Possible side effects include weight gain, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, drowsiness, shaking, trembling, muscle twitches, spasms and decreased sex drive

A type of medication called an alpha2-adrenergic agonist

  • Can help reduce ADHD symptoms at the same time as tics
  • Some studies have shown it helps in about 50% of cases
  • Generally less effective at reducing tics than neuroleptics
  • Possible side effects include drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, diarrhoea, dry mouth and sleeping difficulties

A medicine that alters the way certain chemicals transmit messages in the brain

  • Can be a useful short-term treatment for tics
  • Some studies have shown it helps in about 50-70% of cases
  • Possible side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and unsteadiness or stumbling
  • Possibility of addiction, so should not be used in the long-term

Medication used to treat conditions that cause rapid, repetitive movements

  • Some studies have found 80% of people experience an improvement in their tics
  • Possible side effects include drowsiness, depression, insomnia and feeling sick  
Botulinum toxin

Medication that is injected into the muscles involved in a particular tic to relax them

  • Some studies have shown more than 90% of people have improved tics after treatment and about half of people treated are tic-free for three months
  • Can also reduce the feeling of building tension before a tic
  • Best results achieved if used as a treatment for tics that are confined to a small area, such as vocal tics
  • Effect only lasts about three months, so repeated injections may be needed
  • Most people have a temporarily weak or soft voice afterwards if used to treat vocal tics
  • Not usually recommended for children


Deep brain stimulation

Surgery where electrodes are implanted in certain sections of the brain to help regulate the workings of the brain

  • Some small studies have found that it helps in more than 90% of cases
  • Not widely available because it's still at an experimental stage for the treatment of tics
  • Only recommended for adults with severe tics that have not responded to other treatments
  • Not yet clear whether the treatment is safe and effective in the long-term
  • Like all types of surgery there is a risk of complications, such as infection