Behavioral Health

OCD, Tic Disorders, and Tourette Disorder

If you or a loved one is struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette disorder, or other related disorders, Mount Sinai can help. Our team of highly trained and experienced specialists offers empathetic and personalized care to patients of all ages. We recognize that many who are affected by these disorders may also have other conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, trichotillomania (repetitive pulling or twisting hair), or body-focused repetitive behaviors (nail-biting or skin-picking).

To address the needs of our patients, our team works closely with other specialists, within our program and the larger Mount Sinai Health System, to provide comprehensive and developmentally-appropriate evaluations and treatment. 

About Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Individuals affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience recurrent, unwanted, and distressing thoughts and fears (obsessions). These obsessions can occur out of the blue or in response to triggers in a person’s day-to-day life. Obsessions often lead to the performance of rituals or repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that temporarily reduce the anxiety generated by obsessions. Compulsions interfere with daily life and can be very time-consuming. In addition, avoiding situations that trigger obsessions or compulsions can impact individual’s personal life, family life, and functioning at home, school, or work. OCD symptoms may begin during childhood but symptoms can start at any point over the lifespan.

Getting effective treatment can be difficult: patients who present for help may be misunderstood or misdiagnosed. Too often, years go by before a patient or a loved one seeks help or gets an accurate diagnosis. Some who have OCD also have other conditions. Tic, Tourette Disorder, ADHD, and autism symptoms all occur at higher rates in those affected by OCD compared to those who do not have OCD. It is also important to identify any other anxiety or mood disorders and social or learning difficulties in order to understand the difficulties and challenges our patients are facing. At Mount Sinai, we take all your symptoms and concerns into account as we develop a treatment plan to address your current emotional and psychiatric needs.

About Tourette and Tic Disorders

Tics are sudden, rapid, recurrent involuntary movements or sounds. Tics typically begin during childhood, often around the ages of four to six. Occasional or isolated tics are not uncommon, and about 15 percent of school-age children may have some tics at one time or another. However, tic disorders in which multiple tics are present for more than a year are less common but they can cause significant interference, distress, or impairment.

Tourette disorder is the most complex tic disorder and involves multiple motor tics and at least one vocal tic that persist, more often than not, for at least 12 months. Motor tics often begin in the head and neck area, and examples include eye blinking, eye widening, nose movements, and grimacing. However, any part of the body can be involved (for example, finger movements, abdominal tensing, and certain postures). Verbal tics also come in many forms, ranging from sniffing, throat-clearing, and small noises to repeating syllables, words, or sentences. Individuals affected by Tourette disorder may also have OCD or OCD-like symptoms (for example, needing to touch, tap, rub things, or performing actions repeatedly until they feel at peace). Anxiety or mood symptoms, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, autism, and/or social or learning problems may also be present. We provide a comprehensive evaluation in order to devise a developmentally-appropriate treatment plan to address active and interfering tic symptoms.

Our Philosophy

At Mount Sinai, we have adult psychiatrists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists who use the latest approaches in the evaluation and treatment of OCD, Tourette Disorder, and related disorders. We embrace a team approach to meet each patient’s individual needs. When appropriate, we work with other doctors or specialists. Our goal is to help our patients live their lives free from interfering and distressing symptoms.

Our companion research program is focused on projects that relate to the neurobiology and genetics of OCD and tic disorders and an improved understanding of factors that influence risk and severity of these conditions in order to develop innovative and effective treatments.