Is onset of Tourette syndrome influenced by life events?

Netta Horesh, Sharon Zimmerman, Tami Steinberg, Haim Yagan, Alan Apter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study is to investigate the possible relationship between stressful life events, personality, and onset of Tourette syndrome in children. The study group included 93 subjects aged 7-18 years: 41 with Tourette syndrome (TS), 28 with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and 24 healthy controls. Diagnoses were based on the Child Schedule for Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (K-SADS). All children were tested with the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders, Children's Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, Beck Depression Inventory or Children's Depression Inventory, the Life Experience Survey, and the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory. The findings were compared among the groups. Subjects with Tourette syndrome and healthy controls had significantly less stressful life events than subjects with (OCD). There were no significant differences between the TS subjects and the healthy controls. This finding applied to total lifetime events, total lifetime negative events, and events in the year before and after illness onset. Subjects with TS and the healthy controls also showed a significantly lesser impact of life events than subjects with OCD. The Tourette syndrome group showed a significantly lesser impact of stressful life events than controls. Harm avoidance tended to be higher in the patients with Tourette syndrome and comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder than in patients with Tourette syndrome only. There seemed to be no association between life events, diagnosis, and personality. Although there is some research suggesting that tics can be influenced by the environment, the onset of Tourette syndrome does not seem to be related to stressful life events, nor to an interaction between stressful life events and personality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-793
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neural Transmission
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


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