Guest blog: 5 things to know about tardive dyskinesia

by Celia Zinger, MD, Chief Medical Affairs Officer, Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.

This post was sponsored and developed by Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.

Some people living with a mental health condition may also experience tardive dyskinesia (TD), an involuntary movement disorder associated with long-term use of certain mental health medications (antipsychotics) used to treat bipolar disorder, depression , schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

During National Family Caregivers MonthHere are five ways you can help someone you know living with TD

1. What is TD?

TD is a chronic condition in which people taking certain mental health medications (e.g., antipsychotics) to treat conditions (including bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder) experience mild involuntary movements , moderate or severe in different parts of the body. These movements can affect people physically, socially and emotionally. TD can affect a person’s ability to work, drive, button a shirt, or eat and drink.

TD affects approximately 600,000 people in the United Statesand around 70% of people living with TD have not yet been diagnosed.

2. What are the symptoms associated with TD?

TD is characterized by uncontrollable, abnormal, and repetitive movements in the face, torso, and/or other parts of the body. This may include hand or foot movements, torso swaying, lip smacking, grimacing, blinking, tongue sticking out, facial movements, or pursing and pursing the lips.

3. What causes TD?

TD is associated with long-term use of antipsychotics and certain prescription medications used to treat gastrointestinal disorders (metoclopramide and prochlorperazine). These medications block dopamine receptors in the brain, which can cause irregular dopamine signaling in the part of the brain that controls movement. Symptoms may appear after a few months of taking antipsychotic medications.

Additional factors that may increase the risk of developing TD include:

  • Be 50 years of age or older.
  • Postmenopausal woman.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Have a mood disorder.

4. What can I do to help someone who may have TD?

TD can exacerbate feelings of vulnerability, shame, and frustration and affect a person’s overall well-being. To support them, it is important:

  • Understand how to recognize TD movements, whether mild, moderate or severe.
  • Learn about the cause and impact of TD.
  • Watch for symptoms of TD.
  • Encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider.

5. Where can I get more information?

For more tips to help someone living with TD, visit

For a disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of people, use this National Family Caregivers Month to become better informed and learn how to care for someone who may experience TD.

Celia Zinger is executive medical director of medical affairs and psychiatry at Neurocrine Biosciences. Previously, Zinger served as clinical development and medical affairs leader for product candidates in the rare epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disorders space, and trained as a physician at Paris XII University in ophthalmology and public health.

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