87 Transient Tic Disorder (307.21)

DSM-IV-TR criteria

  • A. Single or multiple motor and/or vocal tics (i.e., sudden, rapid, recurrent, nonrhythmic, stereotyped motor movements or vocalizations).
  • B. The tics occur many times a day, nearly every day for at least 4 weeks, but for no longer than 12 consecutive months.
  • C. The onset is before age 18 years.
  • D. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., stimulants) or a general medical condition (e.g., Huntington’s disease or postviral encephalitis).
  • E. Criteria have never been met for Tourette’s Disorder or Chronic Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder.
  • Specify if: Single Episode or Recurrent.

Associated features

Transient Tic Disorder generally has the same characteristics as Tourette’s Disorder, except the symptoms are not as severe. Common associated features with this disorder are depression (loss of pleasure in everyday activities), too much sleep or not enough, guilt (inappropriate feelings of worthlessness that could even be delusional), trouble concentrating, or having obsessions. Brief and jerky movements and sounds tend to be associated with Transient Tic Disorder also.

Child vs. adult presentation

Transient Tic Disorder is presented in children, before age 18 and is usually seen by the pre-school to early school-age, but has been seen as early as 2 years.

Gender and cultural differences in presentation

Transient Tic Disorder, much like the other Tic Disorders, is more common in males than females. The disorder is seen across the map in all ethnic and cultural groups but appears to be more prevalent in Caucasians than African Americans.


Transient Tic Disorder may not be reported in all cases because the symptoms are short-lived; however, it appears to occur in 4 to 24% of all school-aged children.


Although there has been no finding of a “tic gene”, the disorder appears frequently within the same families. Genetic factors are definitely thought to be a cause, but environmental factors such as the stress level a child is exposed to as well as the parental method a child is under, could play a role in the cause too. Transient Tic Disorder may also be physical or mental.

Empirically supported treatments

Treatment for Transient Tic Disorder is much like the treatment for all of the Tic Disorders, but in this particular disorder, educating the family is one, if not the most, important thing to do. Physicians will tell the family to ignore the tics in the beginning because the unwanted notice of the tics could reinforce them, causing them to become more frequent. If the tics are bad enough that they are interfering with the child’s lifestyle and functioning, behavioral treatments and possibly even pharmacotherapy are suggested.


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