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MN Psychiatrist
MN Psychiatrist, Psychiatrist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 792
Experience:  Physician for 17 years, adult psychiatrist for 13 years working with a wide variety of patients.
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After 5 years of marriage, I just found out that my husband

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After 5 years of marriage, I just found out that my husband has Tourette's syndrome with mild AHDH and mild OCD. I guess I was too love struck for the first 3-4 years :) ... and then last year I started to notice the tics. He is a fairly mild case I guess, with a facial cheek and/or eye muscle twitch on occasion (extreme fatigue or stress) shoulder grinding, as well some vocal tics such as sniffing and throat clearing. He is an international airline pilot who is gone about a third of the time, so that has delayed my figuring this out I suppose. It has been driving me crazy though, what is going on and through research I found the signs and symptoms of TS, and geez..right on the money! I gently approached him with this (although I didn't name the TS specifically) and he said "I really don't want to have to talk about this, because it is a source of immense shame and I suffered horribly as a child because of it, but I will tell you that you are completely on the's something I've dealt with as a long as I can remember and I hide it as best as I can". My question is this.. Do I try and get him to open up about it and attempt to reassure him that I don't think less of him for knowing (in fact quite the opposite is true) I am devastated for him. In addition he has an adult daughter with severe learning disabilities and mild autism, which may be related and geez, I do understand how difficult that is on him. I feel very alone in the situation and don't know if it is better to approach it head on, or let the elephant hide in the living room in plain site (not my first inclination in life). Deb O.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  MN Psychiatrist replied 5 years ago.
Hello, I am a psychiatrist.
I guess it might depend on your end goal.
If your end goal in talking to him more about it is to just let him no that you support him all the way and love him no less at all, then that can probably be communicated either indirectly or directly. If he sees that over time you don't act the smallest bit different towards him, that you have unconditional acceptance towards him, then he may come to realize that without your ever saying anything else to him. At the same time, you know him, and it might be that initially he'd be uncomfortable about your bringing it up again, but then really appreciate it after the fact. I cannot comment on which approach to use, not knowing him.

However, in case he is not aware that there is effective treatment for Tourette's Syndrome, telling him that there is may give him some hope that he can be rid of the symptoms of Tourette's (or some of them). This is something that needs to be investigated cautiously, though, in terms of his medical certificate for his commercial pilot's license; it is possible that treatment would be a non-issue, but some of the medications used to treat Tourette's might be viewed as unacceptable for him to take either while flying, or while holding a commercial pilot's license. The best thing to do would be to contact an FAA medical examiner anonymously, and see what you can find out. If there is no issue with having Tourette's and/or being treated for it while flying or even having his commercial license, then it is possible that he could be freed of the symptoms that have caused him so much shame and distress.
An aviation medical examiner can be found here:
Does this make sense?