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The fact is that recovery is not always smooth sailing. Sometimes there is some rough surf that we have to make it through. This includes the times when mental health medications either don’t do what we hoped they would, stop being effective, or, perhaps most disappointing, introduce some side effects that are concerning and frankly upsetting. One of these side effects includescan include tardive dyskinesia. The good news is these tardive dyskinesia side effects caused by medications can be solved throughout recovery or whenever they may pop-up.

What Exactly Is Tardive Dyskinesia?

Tardive dyskinesia can sound a little disorienting when you first hear about it and even moreso if you wind up having to deal with it. The good news is that tardive dyskinesia is not as complex as its name may lead you to believe.

According to the peer-reviewed article, Medication-Induced Tardive Dyskinesia: A Review and Update, “Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder that causes involuntary, repetitive body movements and is commonly seen in patients who are on long-term treatment with antipsychotic medications. However, several other classes of medications with different mechanisms are also associated with TD.” These medications are generally the focus when tardive dyskinesia arises.

What Causes Tardive Dyskinesia?

Several mental health medications are attributed to causing tardive dyskinesia side effects (though clinicians are not 100% sure why these medications cause this side effect). However, the primary medications that cause tardive dyskinesia are antipsychotic medications.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “[Tardive dyskinesia] is caused by prolonged use of treatments that block dopamine receptors in the brain, such as antipsychotics commonly prescribed to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, and certain anti-nausea medications. In individuals with TD, these treatments are thought to result in irregular dopamine signaling in a region of the brain that controls movement.” These medications are known as “first generation” antipsychotic drugs.

Many studies have found that switching to “second-generation” antipsychotic drugs can be effective in reducing the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia side effects. However, there have also been instances of “disease relapse” when this switch happens. This is why weighing the pros and cons of utilizing mental health medications with a mental health professional is so important.

Pros vs. Cons: Understanding Mental Health Medications and Tardive Dyskinesia

What happens then when the side effects of these mental health medications cause side effects like tardive dyskinesia that also inhibit our day-to-day lives? Then it becomes time to make some choices.

The good news is that taking or not taking mental health medications is not always a “yes or no” situation. There are many options when it comes to dealing with mental health medication side effects. This includes reducing the dosage of a certain medication, switching from one medication to another, or taking a medication that is specifically designed to treat side effects like tardive dyskinesia. 

The key is working closely with mental health professionals when it comes to making these choices. For example, one should never simply stop using a medication “cold turkey” as it can cause even more (potentially dangerous) side effects.

Working With Medical Professionals to Manage Mental Health Medications

Medical professionals are here to listen to and determine the best path to take to make our lives sail a little more smoothly. However, they are unable to do this if we don’t tell them what exactly is going on. This is especially true when it comes to telling them about side effects like tardive dyskinesia.

Sometimes we feel as though we are casting a judgment on our doctor if we tell them that something they prescribed is not working. The truth often the very opposite. They will be grateful that we are open and honest about what is going on so they can adjust our treatment plans to something more effective. At the end of the day, we get to make the final decision. It is always good to work closely with our doctors, and there must be some trust in their expertise present.

Here Before, During, and After Treatment: The Phoenix Recovery Center

At The Phoenix Recovery Center, we know that recovery doesn’t end once treatment is over. That is why we stay involved during the entire process, including being available when issues arise after a client leaves our recovery center.

Recovery is a journey, not a destination. We are here to make sure that the journey goes as smoothly as possible. That is our recovery promise.

While it can be complicated and challenging, accepting and managing the side effects that come from mental health medications can be crucial for individuals that are treating issues of mental health. It is important to understand that some side effects are normal, but others should be discussed with a doctor right away. This includes the medication side effect known as tardive dyskinesia. Staying connected to a doctor while taking medication is important because they can help make changes as needed when it comes to treating issues related to medication side effects. If you feel like you may be struggling with issues related to mental health medications, we can help. For more information, contact The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT