Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder characterized by unintentional and uncontrollable jerky movements of the face and body. For example, you might blink your eyes excessively, stick out your tongue, grimace or make a sucking motion with your mouth. It may also exhibit as chorea, a condition that can cause you to wave your arms up in the air without meaning to, or manifest as a slower, twisting, and uncontrollable distortion of large muscles in the trunk, neck, and face.
Tardive dyskinesia is the side effect of the long term consumption of antipsychotic drugs used to treat illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, amongst others. These drugs, known as neuroleptics, are designed to block the dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is one of the many chemicals that helps the brain to communicate and is known to contribute the development of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia. Some drugs, known as metoclopramide and prochlorperazine, which are prescribed for the treatment of long term gastrointestinal conditions, have also been known to cause TD. Although typically TD develops due to long term use of the medications, some cases have been known to manifest within one day of consuming these medicines.
Because of its manifestation similarities to other movement disorders and neurological conditions, Tardive Dyskinesia is usually diagnosed once other conditions have been ruled out. For example, Huntington’s disease is a hereditary neurological disorder that causes the degeneration of brain and body function manifesting as involuntary movement and progressively developing into memory loss, loss of motor control, gait disorder, and in some cases dementia. Huntington’s typically occurs between the ages of 30 -50 and is inherited so a family history of Huntington’s needs to be ruled out.
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder characterized by an impairment in muscle control and coordination which can also manifest as uncontrollable movements. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain during fetal development. People with cerebral palsy often experience involuntary face and tongue movements that could potentially be mistaken for TD.
Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder that develops in early childhood between the ages of two and sixteen, is characterized by a series of involuntary movements called “tics,” which bare many similarities to the symptoms of TD.
Dystonia is a classification of movement disorders that are characterized by involuntary muscle movement which forces certain parts of the body into painful positions. There are many forms of dystonia although its principal characteristics are the twisting, writhing, and repetitive distortion of muscles in various parts of the body including the neck, arms, and trunk for example. Tardive Dystonia is a severe form of Tardive Dyskinesia.
Unfortunately, because neuroleptic medications are often required for the treatment of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, the best way to manage or prevent developing TD is to find alternative methods of treatment. Some “atypical” medications may be an option, but in instances where neuroleptic treatments are required, there are some additional medications as well as vitamin supplements that can help manage symptoms.
Tardive Dyskinesia can sometimes be a permanent side effect, so finding ways in which to treat or manage the symptoms early on is imperative. Our team of neurology experts are on hand to help you, and as additionally certified board members in psychiatry, can design a care and treatment program that will not only help you to manage the symptoms but also treat the root cause of your neurological conditions.