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Home » Billie Eilish Has Some Unique Tics, And They’re Caused By Tourette Syndrome

Billie Eilish Has Some Unique Tics, And They’re Caused By Tourette Syndrome

by News Desk

Billie Eilish is opening up about having Tourette syndrome. The Grammy Award-winning musical artist first disclosed her diagnosis in 2018 on Instagram, but spoke more in-depth about it recently on David Letterman’s Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

Billie said that she was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome when she was 11 and that people don’t usually understand what’s going on when she experiences her tics, which characterizes the syndrome.

“The most common way that people react is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny. And I’m always left incredibly offended by that,” she said.

Most people associate Tourette syndrome with blurting out inappropriate things. But the condition is so much more than that. (Billie shared on Instagram back in 2018 that her tics are only physical ones.) Here’s what you need to know about Tourette syndrome:

What is Tourette syndrome?

Tourette syndrome is a condition that causes people to have tics—sudden and uncontrollable twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tics can involve bodily movements, like blinking or shrugging the shoulders or vocal tics (humming, yelling a phrase, or clearing the throat). They can also be simple—meaning, they just involve one part of the body—or complex, which involves several parts of the body and has a pattern, the CDC says.

Tics can range from mild to severe, and generally start to appear around age five to seven and older, according to Tourette Association of America. And verbal tics where people say inappropriate things (curse words and slurs, usually) only occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of vocal tic cases.

What causes the syndrome?

The exact cause isn’t known, the Mayo Clinic says, but a family history of the condition typically raises your risk of developing it, along with being male (males are up to four times more likely than females to develop Tourette syndrome). However, Medline Plus says that Tourette syndrome may be linked to problems with chemical substances in the brain (specifically, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) that help nerve cells signal to each other.

Tourette syndrome is named after Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described this disorder in 1885, according to Medline Plus.

How many people have this syndrome?

About one out of every 162 children are estimated to have Tourette syndrome, per the CDC, but only one in 333 are actually diagnosed with the condition.

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Billie said on My Next Guest that other famous people have told her that they have Tourette syndrome, adding that she’s “not gonna out them because they don’t wanna talk about it.”

What is the treatment for Tourette syndrome?

There’s no cure for Tourette syndrome, but there are medications that can help control tics, including Botox, ADHD medications, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications, per the Mayo Clinic. Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy can also help, the organization says.

The tics can go away as children grow. But in severe cases, that’s not always the case.

What has Billie said about having Tourette syndrome?

Billie is a self-described open book, and talked about having the condition in a 2018 Instagram Story post. In it, Billie said that her tics are “not super noticeable to others” if they’re not paying attention, but noted that she was speaking out after people posted videos of her tics online.

“I’ve never mentioned [having Tourette syndrome] on the internet because nobody thinks I’m deadass,” she said. “As well as the fact I’ve just never wanted people to think of Tourette’s every time they think of me.”

The 20-year-old said on My Next Guest that some of her tics have gotten better as she’s gotten older, but she still has others that are more subtle.

“These are things you would never notice if you’re just having a conversation with me but, for me, they’re very exhausting,” she said. Movement and performing helps, though. “When I’m moving around I’m not even ticking at all,” Billie said.

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