Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a neurologic syndrome. It results from using neuroleptic drugs—also called antipsychotic drugs. This class of drugs is used to treat psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia. TD consists of a group of symptoms including:
It is unclear exactly why TD develops. Long-term use of neuroleptic drugs can cause changes in the chemistry in the brain that lead to the symptoms. Nerve cells may also become overly sensitive to certain substances. Not everyone who takes these drugs develops TD.
TD is more common in women and in people over the age of 54. Other factors that may increase your risk of TD include:
TD causes repetitive movements. Movements usually occur in the face, mouth, limbs, or trunk. The movements are involuntary and serve no purpose. They may occur occasionally or all of the time. They may or may not be noticeable. Symptoms may begin while on the drug or within weeks of stopping it.
Symptoms may include:
They can worsen with:
Symptoms may decrease with:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Other disorders can cause symptoms similar to those of TD. The doctor will rule out other disorders before making a diagnosis. There is no specific test for TD.
Tests to rule out other disorders may include:
CT Scan of the Head
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To treat TD, your doctor may:
Symptoms may decrease over time even if you continue to take the neuroleptic drug. Younger people tend to do better.
Some medications may help decrease symptoms, such as:
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is being evaluated for the treatment of TD.
If you need neuroleptic drugs to control a psychiatric disorder, consider these guidelines to help prevent TD:
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Canada
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Updated November 23, 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.
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Last reviewed May 2014 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 6/2/2014