Mass General Hospital, Living with TSC
Living with TSC
 Tuberous Sclerosis ComplexHow TSC Affects the BodyComprehensive CareTSC FamiliesInteractive Timeline
Brain: Anatomy Seizures | Learning | Mental Health        Heart | Skin | Kidney | Lung  | Eye | Other
Brain: Brain: Mental Health and Behavior

Follow-up and Treatment

Brad talks with Keithclick to enlarge photograph

Brad talks with his roommate daily to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Because of the profound negative impact TSC-related behavioral manifestations can have on people with the disorder, specialists stress that early identification and behavioral interventions, including parental guidance and/or supportive talk therapy, are critical to improving quality of life and overall outcome. Doctors recommend that anyone diagnosed with TSC be screened for mental health and behavioral problems and if necessary be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for further care. These professionals can help to develop a plan for treating and/or managing these problems to minimize their effects.

The most effective treatments for behavioral disorders associated with TSC often involve a combination of medication and cognitive and behavioral intervention, including talk therapy. Stimulant medications have proven effective in treating ADHD. The hormone melatonin has proven effective in treating sleep problems among people with TSC. And anxiety and depression can be managed with a type of medication called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI.

Finally, TSC specialists recommend that people with the disorder undergo periodic psychological evaluations to assess progress and to make adjustments to their mental health plan.

Nicole Danforth

In this video, psychiatrist Nicole Danforth gives an overview of mental health and behavioral treatment options for people with TSC. [duration 1:19]
Show Video | Read Transcript

Next Steps

It is important to remember:

  • Nearly all people with TSC experience some form of mental health complication at some point in their lives.
  • Types of behavioral problems associated with TSC include sleep disturbances, attention deficit, hyperactivity, aggressiveness, anxiety, autism, and depression.
  • Like other TSC-related manifestations, the severity of these behavioral disorders ranges widely from mild to debilitating.
  • Experts are unsure what causes most behavioral problems associated with TSC.
  • Early identification and treatment of behavioral problems provides the best outcome for people who have them.
  • TSC specialists recommend that all people diagnosed with the disorder be screened for mental health and behavioral problems, and if necessary be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist for further care.
  • People with TSC should be monitored regularly for the development of specific behavioral problems, and these should be addressed in their mental health plan.

Relevant Specialists


A neurologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the nervous system. A neurologist who treats people with TSC is trained to recognize the neurological symptoms and brain abnormalities characteristic of the disorder.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. A psychiatrist who treats people with TSC is familiar with the cognitive and behavioral issues that are common to the disorder and knows what treatment options are most effective for these issues.


A psychologist is a professional who has earned a doctoral degree in psychology and has undergone clinical training. He or she is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional problems. His or her role involves evaluation, testing, counseling, and/or psychotherapy, without the use of medications.

You can find a list of on-staff physicians on the Herscot Center for Children and Adults with TSC Web site.


National Alliance for Autism Research
The National Alliance for Autism Research provides information about autism and funding for autism research.

National Autism Association
The National Autism Association provides education for families affected by autism and other neurological disorders.

Back to Top

This content was last reviewed on March 30, 2006.