What Are Nervous Tics?
According to the online Medical Dictionary (medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com), nervous tics are “an involuntary, compulsive, rapid, repetitive, stereotyped movement or vocalization.”
Involuntary obviously means that the individual who suffers from nervous tics has no control over these unpredictable movements. However, stress can increase the frequency at which they occur. This is why the nervous tics decrease in frequency when the person is asleep.
Tics also decrease when they are engaged in some sort of activity that requires really heavy concentration. For example, when reading a book, watching something on TV, or watching a video.
When nervous tics occur in children, it often bothers the parents more than it does the victims themselves, who also suffer from the avoidance of other children.
In this article, we will mainly discuss treating nervous tics using hypnosis for anxiety.
Facial Twitching Causes
Facial twitching is more commonly known as facial tics. Facial tics are most often triggered by excessive amounts of stress and anxiety.
Muscle twitching can occur in any part of the body. Stress and anxiety are almost always a part of the underlying cause of muscle twitching. However, muscle twitching can also be caused by a disorder of the nervous system. Some of the most widely-detected facial twitching and muscle twitching causes are discussed in the subsections below.
There are numerous lifestyle habits that can aggravate nervous tics. Avoiding or decreasing these habits can also decrease the severity of tics disorder or make it disappear altogether. Among these bad habits are:
• Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
• Withdrawal from the above
• Having too many caffeine-rich drinks
• Side effects of some medications
• Fatigue, anxiety, work-related stress and intense emotional outbursts
Severe Nervous System Disorders
In other cases, tic disorder can be the result of an underlying nervous system malfunction, such as: Bell’s palsy; ALS; Huntington’s disease; Parkinson’s disease; hemifacial spasm (HFS) or hypoparathyroidism. Treating the underlying disorder, whatever it is, can help to remove the nervous tics.
This disease is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is also responsible for cold sores. This is a very common cause of muscle twitching. Involuntary facial twitching in this case is a result of swelling and inflammation of the nerves in that part of the body, which may also be paralyzed on one side. The patient may also lose the ability to taste, or suffer from headaches, though these symptoms are generally only temporary.
ALS might not be as widely known if it were not for the famous scientist Stephen W. Hawking, who has been suffering from the disease for over fifty years now. (Today, incidentally, he can no longer operate his wheelchair unaided, and has had ever-increasing difficulty in breathing. He has also been unable to speak since 1986.) The disease also claimed the life of the blues singer Lead Belly in 1949. The famous baseball player Lou Gehrig also died from it; hence an alternative name for ALS is Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Doctors do not know what causes ALS. However they do know that it works by interfering with the ability of the brain to transmit signals to the voluntary muscles. This causes these unused muscles to gradually waste away. Eye movements, the senses and involuntary muscular movements such as the beating of the heart remain unaffected. Breathing, swallowing and elimination, which require both voluntary and involuntary muscle action, are gradually hampered. Eventually, the patient dies from either pneumonia or suffocation.
Huntington’s disease, also known as Huntington’s chorea, claimed the life of the American singer Woody Guthrie, author of “This Land Is Your Land” — in 1967. (When Bob Dylan, then an up-and-coming singer, visited Woody in the hospital five years earlier, he described him as “a mere carcass of a man.”)
Besides the face, areas typically affected by Huntington’s include the limbs and the abdominal area. The patient may also become clumsy and have difficulty balancing, and also develop cognitive disabilities and changes in personality. Wasting of the brain cells is the cause of the disease, which most commonly affects middle-aged individuals, though it tends to be more aggressive when it affects members of the younger generation. Only on the rarest of occasions do children acquire Huntington’s.
Parkinson’s disease has been called by a variety of other names: Paralysis agitans; hypokinetic rigid syndrome; idiopathic Parkinsonism; and primary Parkinsonism. Michael J. Fox, bicyclist David Phinney and possibly Muhammad Ali are all afflicted with the condition. It is often characterized by grimacing and increased twitching when the victim is not speaking.
Another common cause of nervous tics, HFS causes involuntary twitches to occur on one side of the face and eventually spreads into its lower half. Many patients feel as though half of their mouths have been stripped off them.
When the parathyroid gland — the one responsible for regulating serum calcium, phosphate levels, and vitamin D synthesis, fails to produce enough hormones to perform those tasks, the result is the disease known as hypoparathyroidism. Tics disorder is a common by-product.
Transient Tics Disorder
Doctors divide nervous tics into five categories:
2. Chronic motor or vocal
The transient type strikes, lingers on for a while and then disappears, typically within a year. It commonly occurs during childhood. About 20 percent of all children under the age of 18 suffer from it. Some of its signs include grimacing, nose scrunching, squinting and eye blinking. Vocal tics (making the same sounds, such as coughs or grunts, repeatedly) also occur, but they are relatively less common. Chronic nervous tics, on the other hand, last much longer.
Tics Treatment Through Hypnosis
Nervous tics, especially when occurring in children, can be effectively treated through hypnosis based extreme relaxation techniques. As long as the techniques are employed on a regular basis, tics of this origin will be greatly reduced or even completely eliminated.
Hypnosis operates on the subconscious mind, which is where the disorder takes up residence. The hypnotherapist works by probing deep into the unconscious mind of the patient. He employs techniques that reduce, and in many cases, eliminate the stress and anxiety which is triggering the tics.
When the nervous tics go away as a result of the treatment, the client feels a deep sense of relief. Clients have been surprised at how the twitches become significantly fewer or just disappear, seemingly without effort. Indeed, even many of the therapists themselves have been astonished at how easy it is to make twitches go away. Sometimes, all it takes is one or two sessions! It is simply a matter of coming into the hypnotist’s office, sitting down in a comfortable chair, closing your eyes, relaxing and letting the hypnotist do the work for you.
In many cases, self-hypnosis may prove to be as effective as hypnosis performed by another person in removing the twitches, according to a new study performed by researchers at the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
Using thirty-three participants between the ages of six and nineteen, all of whom were suffering from Tourette syndrome — a form of tics — these scientists succeeded, within only a few sessions, of enabling the subjects to take control of their nervous habits. All of the subjects had the motor form of the syndrome, and three also had the verbal variety.
First, those conducting the experiment showed the subjects a video of a young male Tourette’s victim before, during and after he had received self-hypnosis training. Individual sessions then followed in which each of the children was taught the techniques. They were instructed to practice self-hypnosis three times a day. Also part of the study was a series of questions specially chosen to make victims more aware of tics and the kind of sensation that the condition produced in them.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Lazarus, self-hypnosis is helpful in producing the kind of state of mind that combines relaxation, on the one hand, with focusing on a desired goal on the other. Once the patient had zeroed in on that “highly-focused special place,” then the actual work on controlling the tics could be done. Patients were asked to describe how they felt just before a twitch occurred so they could “put up a stop sign” the instant they felt that way. The doctors also encouraged them to think of their own images.
Jo Ann Darby purchased a program hypnosis program available on CD’s as well as an MP3 download entitled, “Peaceful Face!”. “I was actually astonished that after the very FIRST session I noticed a remarkable difference and I can proudly say that my tics are now almost completely gone and I can get back to enjoying life. I had been so embarrassed that I had quit going to any social functions and even gave up being with friends. I’m a different woman thanks to your program. I intend to continue using the CD’s weekly and/or as needed.”
Facial tics most often occur as either a symptom of stress, or they are triggered by a neurological disorder. When tics are a symptom of stress and anxiety, hypnosis is an effective technique which can drastically reduce, and in many cases completely eliminate the tics.
When the tics appear as the result of a neurological disorder, there is almost always a stress element involved. Again, hypnotherapy can be used to eliminate that element of the tics to help reduce the frequency of the tics. And based on medical research, the hypnosis can also have an effect on tics that are triggered by the neurological disorder itself.
People suffering from this disorder have to cope with the annoying stares of others and feel completely embarrassed by their uncontrollable condition.
Jason is 12 years old. His mother ordered a set of “Peaceful Face!” hypnosis & NLP CDs. Soon after she reported that his tics disorder immediately calmed from a tic once every few seconds, to a tic a few times an hour.
He had previously experienced difficulty sleeping. When listening to the CD’s in bed, he was falling into a deep sleep within moments. In his mom’s exact words, “It is AMAZING!”