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OCD and Tourette's syndrome

Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, named after the doctor who described it in 1885, is a disease characterized by the presence of tics. Its association with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is well known. In fact, OCD affects one in two patients with Tourette's syndrome.


Tourette's syndrome: a spectacular disorder

Tourette's syndrome appears in childhood or adolescence. It is characterized by the presence of tics which can be of 2 kinds:

  • Motor tics: for example grimaces, shrugs of the shoulders, sudden movements or the need to touch, feel objects ... or the imitation of a person's movements (echopraxia) or the practice of obscene gestures (copropaxis);

  • Vocal tics: for example repetitive growls, coughs, cries… or the repetition of the interlocutor's words (echolalia) or of his own words (palilalia), or the use of coarse language (coprolalia).


To know :


Coprolalia is one of the most “spectacular” and best-known manifestations of the disease; however, it may not be present. The Marquise de Dampierre, a patient studied by Dr Gilles de la Tourette, suffered from coprolalia. She lived to age 85 with her tics.

These tics appear at a young age. They can be transient or chronic (when they last more than a year). Tics result from changes in specific brain structures (the basal ganglia), but the true cause is not known. However, given that a family plot (several patients in the same family) has been reported, a genetic origin is suspected.

In the majority of cases, tics regress in adulthood.

Read also - ADHD or Attention Deficit Disorder with / without Hyperactivity

OCD and Tourette's syndrome: a common comorbidity

Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) are characterized by the presence of obsessions (intrusive and involuntary thoughts, generating anxiety) and / or compulsions (repetitive behaviors aimed at calming anxiety).

The comorbidity between OCD and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome is well known.

To know !


We speak of comorbidity when two or more diseases are present together in the same subject, either they have the same origin, or that one leads to the other, or that their joint presence is the result of chance. Comorbidity is frequent in psychiatry.

Studies have shown that:

  • 40 to 60% of patients with Tourette's syndrome also present with OCD;

  • 5-10% of people diagnosed with OCD also suffer from Tourette's syndrome.

The two diseases also have similarities: the onset of symptoms in childhood and the production of repetitive sequences that are difficult to control.

According to the researchers, the comorbidity between OCD and Tourette's syndrome is not accidental; a common genetic basis is suspected. In fact, the risk for a child of developing OCD is greater when one of the parents suffers from Tourette's syndrome. And vice versa.

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