What is tardive dyskinesia (TD)?

TD means having movements you can’t control

TD is a real condition that affects at least 500,000 people in the United States. The uncontrollable movements of TD may be disruptive to people’s lives due to the symptoms themselves and the emotional and social impact they have.

If you think you have TD or have been recently diagnosed, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Support is available for people living with the condition, and there are many ways to be proactive about your care.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) may affect ≥500,000 people in the US

What causes TD?

TD is caused by taking certain kinds of drugs, such as antipsychotics, that help control dopamine, a chemical in the brain

These drugs are prescribed to treat conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety

Other medications used to treat upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting may also cause TD.

When can TD start?

TD can start after a few months of taking antipsychotic medications. In some cases, symptoms may not even start until after the medications are stopped.

Icon of a person in profile, with the brain emphasized to suggest heightened dopamine sensitivity

Antipsychotic medications can lead to heightened dopamine sensitivity

While working to control dopamine in one part of the brain, an antipsychotic medication can lead to heightened dopamine sensitivity in others.

TD is thought to be a consequence of how your body has reacted to this increased sensitivity in a part of the brain that controls movement.

In addition to taking antipsychotic medications, the following factors may also play a role in your risk for TD

  • Having a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder
  • Having a parent or sibling with a mood disorder, in people who have schizophrenia
  • Having other movements caused by certain medications
  • A history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Being 50 years of age or older or, for women, being postmenopausal
  • What causes TD?

    TD is caused by taking certain kinds of drugs, such as antipsychotics, that help control dopamine, a chemical in the brain

    These drugs are prescribed to treat conditions like:

    • Depression
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Anxiety

    Other medications used to treat upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting may also cause TD.

    When can TD start?

    TD can start after a few months of taking antipsychotic medications. In some cases, symptoms may not even start until after the medications are stopped.

    Icon of a person in profile, with the brain emphasized to suggest heightened dopamine sensitivity

    Antipsychotic medications can lead to heightened dopamine sensitivity

    While working to control dopamine in one part of the brain, an antipsychotic medication can lead to heightened dopamine sensitivity in others.

    TD is thought to be a consequence of how your body has reacted to this increased sensitivity in a part of the brain that controls movement.

    In addition to taking antipsychotic medications, the following factors may also play a role in your risk for TD

    • Having a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder
    • Having a parent or sibling with a mood disorder, in people who have schizophrenia
    • Having other movements caused by certain medications
    • A history of alcohol or drug abuse
    • Being 50 years of age or older or, for women, being postmenopausal

What does TD look like?

TD means having uncontrollable movements in your body

TD is often seen in the lips, jaw, tongue, and eyes. It can also affect other parts of the body, including the upper body, arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Specific TD movements include:

  • Lip smacking, puckering, or pursing
  • Tongue darting or protrusion
  • Blinking
  • Jaw swinging, chewing, or grimacing
  • Twisting or dancing fingers and toes
  • Trunk and hip rocking, jerking, or thrusting

TD can look or feel different from day to day.

Movements may appear

  • to be rapid and jerky, or slow and writhing
  • in a repetitious, continuous, or random pattern
Quote bubble icon

Speak up! Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you or someone you care for experiences these signs and symptoms.

The videos below show some examples of the signs and symptoms of TD.

Lips

Video example of lip movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Jaw

Video example of jaw movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Eyes

Video example of eye movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Tongue

Video example of tongue movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Trunk and Limbs

Video example of trunk and limb movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Lips

lips video icon

Jaw

jaw video icon

Eyes

eyes video icon

Tongue

tongue video icon

Trunk and Limbs

trunk video icon
  • What does TD look like?

    TD means having uncontrollable movements in your body

    TD is often seen in the lips, jaw, tongue, and eyes. It can also affect other parts of the body, including the upper body, arms, hands, legs, and feet.

    Specific TD movements include:

    • Lip smacking, puckering, or pursing
    • Tongue darting or protrusion
    • Blinking
    • Jaw swinging, chewing, or grimacing
    • Twisting or dancing fingers and toes
    • Trunk and hip rocking, jerking, or thrusting

    TD can look or feel different from day to day.

    Movements may appear

    • to be rapid and jerky, or slow and writhing
    • in a repetitious, continuous, or random pattern
    Quote bubble icon

    Speak up! Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you or someone you care for experiences these signs and symptoms.

    The videos below show some examples of the signs and symptoms of TD.

    Lips

    Video example of lip movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

    Jaw

    Video example of jaw movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

    Eyes

    Video example of eye movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

    Tongue

    Video example of tongue movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

    Trunk and Limbs

    Video example of trunk and limb movements associated with tardive dyskinesia (TD)

    Lips

    lips video icon

    Jaw

    jaw video icon

    Eyes

    eyes video icon

    Tongue

    tongue video icon

    Trunk and Limbs

    trunk video icon

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