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Relationships Between Premonitory Urge and Anxiety in Youth With Chronic Tic Disorders


Tourette's Disorder and other chronic tic disorders are common neurodevelopmental conditions. One characteristic of tic disorders is the premonitory urge, an aversive or unpleasant sensory phenomenon that may precede tics. Initial examination of premonitory urge in pediatric tic disorders suggests that awareness and experience of sensations preceding tics may be related to anxiety and OCD. However, it may be possible that specific anxiety-related symptoms, such as anxious physiologic arousal, are particularly relevant to the experience of premonitory urge. The current study examines relationships between tic-related premonitory urge and anxiety-related symptom clusters in treatment-seeking youths with a primary diagnoses of Tourette's or other chronic tic disorder. The sample consisted of 124 youth, ages 9 to 17, who participated in the multi-site Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics randomized controlled trial (CBIT; Piacentini et al., 2010). Specific anxiety-related subtypes, including generalized worry, separation, social, and panic/somatic symptoms, as well as severity of obsessions and compulsions, were assessed as potential correlates of premonitory urge. Findings indicated that age, global tic-related impairment, and specific panic/somatic symptoms accounted for a substantial proportion of variance in youth report of premonitory urge. These findings provide information about the characteristics of premonitory urge in pediatric tic disorders, and have implications for the treatment of pediatric tic syndromes.

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