What is tardive dyskinesia (TD)?

TD means having movements you can’t control.

TD is a real condition that affects at least 500,000 people in the United States. The uncontrollable movements of TD may be disruptive to people’s lives due to the symptoms themselves and the impact they have on emotional and social well-being.

If you think you may have TD or if you have been recently diagnosed, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Support is available for people living with the condition, and there are many ways to be proactive about your care.

Tardive Dyskinesia Definition Diagram

Tardive dyskinesia, or TD, is a condition of uncontrollable movements affecting the face, torso, and/or other body parts.

What causes TD?

TD is associated with taking certain kinds of crucial medications, such as antipsychotics, that help control dopamine, a chemical in the brain.

Antipsychotics are prescribed to treat conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Other medications used to treat upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting may also cause TD.

What does TD look like?

TD means having uncontrollable movements in one or more spots of your body.

TD is often seen in the lips, jaw, tongue, and eyes. It can also affect other parts of the body, including the upper body, arms, hands, legs, and feet.

TD can look or feel different from day to day.

Movements may appear:

  • To be rapid and jerky, or slow and writhing
  • In a repetitive, continuous, or random pattern

Specific TD movements include

Speak up—talk with your healthcare provider in person, over the phone, or online right away if you or someone you care about is experiencing these uncontrollable movements.

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When can TD start?

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) symptoms may emerge after a few months of taking antipsychotic medications. In some cases, symptoms may not even start until after the medications are stopped.

In addition to taking antipsychotic medications, the following factors may also play a role in your risk for TD:

  • Being 50 years of age or older
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Substance abuse
  • Having a mood disorder

While working to control dopamine in one part of the brain, antipsychotic medications can make other parts of the brain more sensitive to dopamine, which may be associated with the movements of TD.

Have others noticed your uncontrollable movements?

Not an actual patient

If someone asks why your body is rocking, swaying, or moving beyond your control, you may want to ask your doctor about TD.