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How to diagnose Tics?: head, neck, and facial muscles are a

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My current symptoms:

it isn't exactly a twitch, but I am reguarly compelled to close my eyes very tight and roll them back, putting major strain on them. I feel a buildup up tension before doing this and even though I try to hold back, it gets to the point where I must perform this. Sometimes i'll do it 5 or 6 times in a row. More often when I am stressed out, or bored. (this happens mostly while I am driving, which is dangerous because I drive for a living). My tics also manifest themselves as my needing to look at things a certain way.. For example, I am constantly turning my head to the right to line up my vision with the top of my passenger side mirror. Again, I will do this more than a few times in a row until i'm able to snap myself out of this. If I feel the need to do this, I can hold back for a few moments before I either do it accidently or kind of blow up, doing it many times in a row.

Sometimes I get (what I call) the "blinks" where I blink a few times in a row very hard straining my eyes at the same time (sometimes I slightly jerk my head while doing this).

i've had these symptoms regularly for almost 20 years but have never had them diagnosed. I remember being 7 years old and having to kind of jerk/shake my head constantly and uncontrollably. Most often, I feel the urge coming on and can do little to keep myself from doing it, otherwise its a mental struggle to stop.

When I was 12/13 I would constantly roll my eyes to the back of my head, being made fun of at school for it. At this same time frame, I was also doing something weird with the muscles in my mouth, stretching out very quickly into a kinda of large smile in a jerking fashion.

What should I do about this? I've brought it up once or twice in therapy but my therapist suggested I relax more and breathe deeply when I feel the urge, stating that it was stress related. Sometimes I blink when i'm not even stressed out..Sometimes just thinking about my tics brings them on. It is beginning to interfere with work..

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replied October 30th, 2006
Neurological Disorders Answer A1719
According to your description, you might be experiencing chronic motor tics disorder. Tics are sudden, involuntary spasmodic muscular contractions, especially of the facial, neck, or shoulder muscles, which may become more pronounced during moments of stress. Tics are typical during childhood but can continue showing up in young adults. Tics are usually due to an anxiety disorder (neurosis). There is a form of chronic tics (Tourette syndrome) that can be due to genetic constitution.
Treatment depends on how bad the tics are and how the condition affects a person. Medication and psychotherapy are used only when tics have a substantial impact on daily activities, such as affecting school and job performance.
Drugs used to treat tics include dopamine blockers, such as pimozide and risperidone. However, they are not always successful and can cause side effects. In your case (school bus driver) medicines are not recommended.
You can ask help from a mental health doctor.

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