Tics and Emotional Dysregulation

Sixty consecutive admissions were assessed for perceived stress, emotional dysregulation, severity of obsessions and compulsions, anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, and tic expression at a TD clinic, in a university-affiliated pediatric hospital. The results indicated that stress and emotion dysregulation were significantly related to both tic expression and severity of comorbidities.

What is this study missing?

Stressors beyond emotional: environmental, physical, biological

What is causing emotional dysregulation? Talk about the stress of inflammation on mood. Is it really the emotions or the underlying stressors driving the emotions?

Tic Disorders and Emotional Dysregulation in Kids: The Missing Pieces of the Puzzle

Get ready to put on your thinking caps because we’re about to dive into emotional dysregulation and tic disorders in kids.

The Study That Got Us Talking 

A 2021 study in the European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry journal took a deep dive into emotional regulation and tic disorders in children. The researchers looked at 60 kids admitted to a psychiatric hospital who also had tic disorders. They assessed them for emotional dysregulation, OCD severity, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and tic expression. And guess what they found?

Stress and Emotional Dysregulation and Tics 

The study showed that stress and emotional dysregulation were like two peas in a pod with tic expression and the severity of other conditions like OCD. In other words, when kids were feeling the pressure, their tics and other symptoms went through the roof.

But hold up, there’s more to this story than meets the eye!

The Missing Pieces: Environmental, Physical, and Biological Stressors 

This study got some people thinking, “What about all the other stuff that stresses kids out?” Sure, emotional stress is a big deal, but it’s not the only culprit – environmental stressors. Is your little one breathing in toxic fumes from your cleaning supplies? Do you live near a pollution-spewing factory? These things can send their stress levels soaring. 

And don’t get started on physical stressors. Is your kiddo glued to the couch all day, missing out on vitamin D? Are they dealing with a wonky spine that needs some chiropractic TLC? 

Then there’s the inside job: biological stressors such as food sensitivities, leaky gut, hidden infections – all the stuff brewing beneath the surface. 

Inflammation: The Master of Tics and Moods

So, what’s the common denominator in all these stressors? Inflammation.

When your kiddo has good days and bad days, that’s inflammation pulling the strings. It’s like a roller coaster for their brain, messing with their neurotransmitters and moods.

But here’s the thing: inflammation is supposed to happen when you sprain your ankle or get a paper cut. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, let’s fix this!” But when it’s always lurking in the background? That’s when the trouble starts

Connecting the Dots: What the Study Missed 

The study gave us some solid info, but it left out a few key players. It’s like trying to solve a crime without interviewing all the witnesses.

We need to look at how environmental, physical, and biological stressors are fanning the flames of inflammation. And how that inflammation is pulling the strings of emotions and tics.

That’s where my holistic detective skills come in handy. We are always on the hunt for the root cause, not just the surface-level symptoms. So book a call with us if you’re searching for answers.

The Bottom Line

Moms and dads in the trenches of tic disorders and emotional dysregulation. I’m here to tell you there’s hope. Keep digging for answers, keep advocating for your kid, and most importantly – don’t give up. 

We’ll stay on top of what’s working now, piecing together the puzzle of tic disorders one study at a time. So stay curious, stay compassionate, and never stop believing in your child’s resilience. 


Mathews, C. (2021). Treating Tourette syndrome and other chronic tic disorders: updated guidelines by the European society for the study of Tourette syndrome (ESSTS). European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

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