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Medication side effects can be very disconcerting. Especially when medication can sometimes be the cause of your condition. This is the reality many people with tardive dyskinesia face every day. The good news is that there are ways to treat tardive dyskinesia that can be highly effective and help people focus on what is most important; living life free of the symptoms of mental illness.

What Exactly Is Tardive Dyskinesia?

Tardive dyskinesia can be overwhelming simply because of its terminology. However, it’s more straightforward than you may think. 

According to the clinical article titled Medication-Induced Tardive Dyskinesia: A Review and Update, “The term dyskinesia refers to involuntary muscle movements that can range from slight tremor to uncontrollable movement of the entire body. The tardive dyskinesia (TD) form of dyskinesia gets its name from the slow—or tardive—onset of involuntary movements of the face, lips, tongue, trunk, and extremities. TD most generally occurs in individuals who are on long-term treatment with dopaminergic antagonist medications (antipsychotic drugs [APDs]).” The involuntary movements of tardive dyskinesia can be hard to live with, but understanding the cause can help those affected better understand their body.

What Causes Tardive Dyskinesia?

While doctors are not exactly sure of the exact reason for it, certain medications have been pinpointed as the primary cause of tardive dyskinesia. The specific medications that tend to cause tardive dyskinesia are what are known as “first-generation” antipsychotics.

These medications are primarily used to treat psychotic mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, and related disorders like schizoaffective disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and delusional disorder. It is also not uncommon for these types of medications to be prescribed to people who struggle with bipolar disorder and severe depression. Once the cause of tardive dyskinesia is understood, we can better begin plans for tardive dyskinesia treatments.

How Do You Treat Tardive Dyskinesia?

Since tardive dyskinesia is primarily associated with medication, adjusting, switching, reducing, or eliminating certain medications is the best way to treat tardive dyskinesia. However, one must also weigh the pros and cons of switching medications and how to effectively treat their mental health disorder.

According to the publication titled Treatment Recommendations for Tardive Dyskinesia, “Preventing tardive dyskinesia is of primary importance, and clinicians should follow best practice for prescribing antipsychotic medication, including limiting the prescription for specific indications, using the minimum effective dose, and minimizing the duration of therapy. The first-line management of tardive dyskinesia is the withdrawal of antipsychotic medication if clinically feasible. Yet, for many patients with serious mental illness, the discontinuation of antipsychotics is not possible due to disease relapse.” It should also be noted that many people find that a focus on non-medication-related therapies helps them reduce certain medications.

It should be noted that not everyone will find that an increase in certain therapies helps them treat tardive dyskinesia. However, some people find that increasing their focus on psychotherapies like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), experiential therapies like nature immersion therapy, and holistic treatments that focus on mindfulness like yoga can help them reduce their dosage of medications that may cause tardive dyskinesia. The key is to always work with qualified medical professionals when it comes to managing prescription medication.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Mental Health Medication Benefits and Side Effects

Now, weighing the pros and cons of mental health medications is a very personal decision that people must deal with. However, there are people who can help them with their decisions.

For example, if someone is struggling with schizophrenia, the truth is that some tardive dyskinesia may be a better alternative than the symptoms and side effects of the untreated disorder. However, if someone is struggling with severe tardive dyskinesia and it starts to interfere with their day-to-day lives, they may have to determine whether they can manage their mental illness in some other manner, even if that means that they still feel some slight side effects. Again, the key is professional assistance, and in most cases, they can minimize both symptoms of the initial disorder and the tardive dyskinesia.

Recovery at All Costs With The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that recovery doesn’t merely come from taking medication. It takes comprehensive treatment plans to best ensure that whole mind-body recovery takes place. This includes addressing any side effects like tardive dyskinesia if they pop up during the recovery process.

If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with issues of mental illness, addiction, or both, we can help. For more information on treating tardive dyskinesia, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

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