Let’s talk about 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, or TD, is a condition of uncontrollable movements affecting the face, torso, and/or other body parts.

Have others noticed your uncontrollable movements?

If someone asks why your body is rocking, swaying, or moving beyond your control, you may want to discuss these movements with your doctor.

What causes TD?

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is associated with taking certain kinds of important 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.

Icon of a person in profile, with the brain emphasized to suggest heightened dopamine sensitivity

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.

Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) Definition Image

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
  • Having a history of alcohol or drug 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.

What does TD look like?

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) means having uncontrollable movements in 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



Lip puckering, pouting, or smacking

Not an actual patient


Jaw biting, clenching, or side-to-side movements

Not an actual patient


Excessive blinking or squinting again and again

Not an actual patient


Tongue darting, sticking out, or pushing inside of cheek

Not an actual patient


Rocking, leaning back, or torso and hip shifting

Not an actual patient


Twisting hands or dancing fingers

Not an actual patient


Gripping feet or stretched toes

Not an actual patient

Speak up! Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you or someone you care about is experiencing these uncontrolled movements.

Learn How to Manage TD

“[People] see that I have challenges like schizophrenia and tardive dyskinesia. And they see all that I'm able to do despite these disorders. If I can do it, then other people can do it as well.”



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