What is Tardive Dyskinesia and do I have it?

What is Tardive Dyskinesia and do I have it?

Jan 30, 2020

If you’ve ever taken any type of antipsychotic medications you may have encountered some symptoms of TD (Tardive dyskinesia). It is typically its own diagnosis that is separate from your own mental diagnosis, whether it be Bipolar, Schizoaffective or Schizophrenia. Let’s take a look at some of the effects that TD can cause.


Tardive dyskinesia is defined by causing stiff, jerky movements that you can’t control. These can affect multiple parts of your body, including your face, as well as your arms and legs.

Orofacial dyskinesia or oro-bucco-lingual dyskinesia, or more simply: Uncontrolled movements in your face. They mostly affect your lips, jaw, or tongue. These include:

  • Involuntarily sticking out your tongue.
  • Blinking your eyes rapidly.
  • Uncontrolled chewing.
  • Smacking or puckering your lips.
  • Puffing out your cheeks.
  • Uncontrolled grunting.

Dyskinesia of the Limbs: This affects your arms, legs, fingers and toes: This includes:

  • Wiggling your fingers.
  • Tapping your feet.
  • Flapping your arms.
  • Thrusting your hips.
  • Sawing from side to side.

These movements can be either fast or slow, and may significantly affect your ability to work, or be active.

How could I be affected?

With a diagnosis of schizophrenia, bipolar or other brain conditions, it is common for a doctor to prescribe any number of various antipsychotic medications. These medications can include but are not limited to:

  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Fluphenazine
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)

These medications block a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This chemical is important because It helps cells communicate with one another and helps your muscles move more smoothly. Once dopamine is blocked it can cause your movements to become jerky or feel out of control.

Typically it takes a continuous usage of 3 months or 90 days or more to encounter the affects, but rare cases of been seen to have the affect after a single dose. While TD is very rare, with less than 200,000 cases in the United States per year. There are some common risk factors that could increase your chances, they are:

  • A woman, who is post-menopausal.
  • Anyone over the age of 55.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.
  • A person of African American or Asian descent.

Treatment and prevention

            The main goal is to prevent TD in patients. Consult your doctor about a medications side effects and if its benefits outweigh these side effects. If you notice any symptoms of TD, let your doctor know immediately. Your doctor can lower the dosage, or even try a new medication entirely.

There are also two FDA-approved medications to treat tardive dyskinesia:

  • Deutetrabenazine (Austedo)
  • Valbenazine (Ingrezza)

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