Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

There's no cure for Tourette syndrome. Treatment is intended to help control tics that interfere with everyday activities and functioning. When tics aren't severe, treatment may be unnecessary.

Medications

No medication is helpful to everyone with Tourette syndrome, none completely eliminates symptoms, and they all have side effects to be weighed against the benefits.

Possible medications to help control or minimize tics or to reduce symptoms of related conditions — such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) — include:

  • Drugs that block or deplete the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, such as fluphenazine, haloperidol (Haldol) or pimozide (Orap). Used to control tics, these medications may have side effects such as weight gain and a dulling of the mind.
  • Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injections. For simple or vocal tics, an injection into the affected muscle may help relieve the tic.
  • Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin, others) and those containing dextroamphetamine (Adderall XR, Dexedrine, others). These are used to help increase attention and concentration for people with ADHD.
  • Central adrenergic inhibitors, such as clonidine (Catapres) or guanfacine (Tenex). Typically prescribed for high blood pressure, these drugs may help control behavioral symptoms, such as impulse control problems and rage attacks. Side effects may include sleepiness.
  • Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, others). These may help control symptoms of sadness, anxiety and OCD.

Therapies

  • Psychotherapy. In addition to helping you cope with Tourette syndrome, psychotherapy or talk therapy can help with accompanying problems, such as ADHD, obsessions, depression or anxiety.
  • Behavior therapy. A form of behavior therapy called habit-reversal training may help to reduce tics. With this therapy, you monitor tics and identify premonitory urges — those uncomfortable sensations that occur before the tic. You learn to respond to those urges by voluntarily moving in a way that's incompatible with the tic, which suppresses the tic.
  • Deep brain stimulation. For severe tics that don't respond to other treatment, deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help. DBS consists of implanting a battery-operated medical device (neurostimulator) in the brain to deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas that control movement. More research is needed to determine whether DBS benefits people with Tourette syndrome.
Aug. 10, 2012