Mental health-related conditions, such as depression and anxiety, have intensified since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, especially among younger people. But what has called the attention of the scientific community is the increase in tics in children and adolescents, including those already diagnosed previously. The reason would be the stress caused by the “new” scenario and also the exposure on social media.
The subject has been studied by researchers from different parts of the world. An article published in the journal BJM, on March 6 of this year, shows that there is a “new wave” of patients with these complaints: teenagers who report a sudden onset of motor and phonic tics (when they emit sound).
According to the authors of the article, this is a rare and unusual subtype of tics within Tourette’s Syndrome—a disease that causes uncontrollable tics. “Usually childhood tics start around the age of 5 and 7 and show an increasing and decreasing course of predominantly motor tics, most commonly affecting boys at a ratio of 4 to 1,” the UK scientists wrote.
In this same article, there is a case report of a 14-year-old girl, who started presenting tics (motor and phonic) in November 2020 and which involved “complex turns” of the head with neck movements and agitated hand movements, along with noises.
According to the article, the girl would have a predisposition to tics and some traits of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), which would require further investigation. But she also admitted to researching various sites about Tourette, as well as uploading videos showing the ticks on TikTok.
Researchers cite tics relationship with use of TikTok
In another study, researchers from eight clinics specializing in Tourette’s Syndrome in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia noted this “parallel pandemic” in 12- to 25-year-old females — the so-called Generation Z.
According to the survey, published on August 13 this year in the journal Movement Disorders, the cases show a rapid onset of this behavior.
Scientists also claim that patients, in addition to experiencing the stress caused by the pandemic, also cited “exposure to influencers on social networks (mainly TikTok) with tics or Tourette’s Syndrome”.
On the social network, there are several videos that talk about ringtones, with the word “tic tok” or the hashtag “#ticdisorder”. According to the researchers, such exposure could encourage the onset of symptoms.
“In some cases, patients have specifically identified an association between these media exposures and symptom onset, although with some of the younger children, social networking use was only confirmed after ‘careful questioning,'” the researchers wrote. .
According to the study, the goal is to help doctors recognize patients with this disorder and teach them to differentiate from young people with the “new syndrome” in relation to patients with Tourette.
However, there is another point of view.
Researchers in another study decided to compare the “TikTok tics” with the tics of a person with Tourette Syndrome. The conclusion was that, although both have similar characteristics, they are not the same.
“We believe this is an example of a sociogenic disease [da sociedade] mass, which involves behaviors, emotions or conditions that spread spontaneously through a group,” wrote the authors of the study, published in the journal Movement Disorders.
In all the articles, doctors and researchers explain the importance of bringing more information on the topic, with the aim of helping specialists and, especially, young people, especially at this time of pandemic and greater exposure on social networks.