Today is day 8 of Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, which (as I've stated in a previous post) runs from May 15 to June 15. I want to take the opportunity today to share a little about comorbid conditions. I've used the term many times in the past, yet I've still received a lot of question about the term "comorbid". It seems that what throws most people off is the word "morbid", which is most commonly thought of as "gruesome" or "unwholesomely gloomy". Dictionary.com gives four definitions for the word "morbid", including the two more common definitions I just mentioned. However, it can also mean "affected by, caused by, causting, or characteristic of disease" or "pertaining to diseased parts". In the case of co-morbid conditions, it would be more the "affected by,..." definition.
Comorbid condition of Tourette Syndrome can include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar, depression, anxiety, and rage. They can also include learning disorders, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia. In many cases, these comorbid conditions are actually harder on the individual with TS than the actual tics are.
It is important to remember that these can appear together but do not always. Some people may have one or two comorbids with their TS, some may have none, some may have many. Like the difference in tics, it seems that you can have a room full of ticcers and not see a completely matching list of comorbids between two individuals. It is also important to realize that just because a child exhibits one of the comorbids, it doesn't mean that the child has Tourette Syndrome. A child with ADHD could just have ADHD. A child with OCD could just have OCD. These are all conditions that can occur on their own or along with other conditions.