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Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) is a medical disorder that mainly occurs as a side-effect of using various medicines, especially antipsychotic treatments for mental illness. TD is thus considered a severe side-effect of such medicines.

The condition is characterized by rapid jerky and twitchy movements that are uncontrollable. They usually occur on the face and sometimes other parts of the body. TD is classified into two:

  • Dyskinesia of the limbs is characterized by rapid involuntary twitching in the fingers, toes, legs and even the arms. In some cases, people with TD may also thrust their pelvis involuntarily or even experience bodily swaying.
  • Oro-bucco-lingual dyskinesia, aka Orofacial dyskinesia is the most common type of TD characterized by facial twitching. People with this type of tardive dyskinesia may experience involuntary jaw movements such as chewing, frowning, grunting, rapid blinking, and sometimes even sticking out their tongue involuntarily.

Who is vulnerable to TD?

TD can be triggered by a variety of drugs, most of which are designed to treat mental health conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some of those drugs include Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Haldol. The prolonged consumption of those drugs increases the chances of triggering TD. This means that people who suffer from the aforementioned conditions have a higher chance of contracting TD.

Diabetics and elderly women are also highly susceptible to TD, and also people that suffer from mental illnesses. Unfortunately, the disorder does not have a cure, which means that the victim will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. However, some treatments can help manage the condition.

Treatment options that may help Tardive Dyskinesia patients to manage their condition

TD symptoms may not be clear evidence until after months or even years of taking mental health or antipsychotic drugs that trigger the condition. So far, roughly 500,000 people suffer from TD in the U.S. Getting off the mental illness drugs that triggered the condition in the first place does not help to ease the symptoms. However, other therapies may provide some relief and help keep the condition in check.

Ingrezza and Austedo are FDA-approved medications that can help people suffering from TD to manage the condition. The two drugs reduce the flow of dopamine in the brain, thus providing relief from the symptoms of the disease. They work by taking more control of the same mechanism that causes the condition.

Scientific research identified that Dyskinesia occurs when the brain is unable to regulate or control dopamine efficiently. The latter is the same chemical involved in the body’s reward system, which is why it is also known as the feel-good hormone. The hormone is also closely associated with the body’s motor functions, and that is why involuntary twitching or jerking on the face or other body parts occurs.

Patients may also find relief in natural remedies such as ginkgo biloba or even vitamin supplements such as vitamin E, vitamin B9, or even melatonin. These may help regulate dopamine flow, although medical research has not established actual benefits to TD patients from such remedies.