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by Celia Zinger, M.D., executive director, Medical Affairs at Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.

This post was sponsored and developed by Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc.

Some people living with a mental health condition may also experience tardive dyskinesia (TD), an involuntary movement disorder associated with prolonged use of certain mental health medicines (antipsychotics) that are used to treat bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder.

During National Family Caregivers Month, here are five ways you may be able to support someone you know living with TD

1. What is TD?

TD is a chronic condition in which people taking certain mental health medicines (e.g., antipsychotics) to treat conditions – including bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder – experience mild, moderate, or severe involuntary movements in different parts of their bodies. These movements can impact people physically, socially, and emotionally. TD can affect one’s ability to work, drive, button a shirt, or eat and drink.

TD affects approximately 600,000 people in the United States, and about 70% of those living with TD have not yet been diagnosed.

2. What are the symptoms associated with TD?

TD is characterized by uncontrollable, abnormal, and repetitive movements in the face, torso, and/or other body parts. This can include hand or foot movements, rocking of the torso, lip smacking, grimacing, eye blinking, tongue protrusion, facial movements, or puckering and pursing of the lips.

3. What causes TD?

TD is associated with prolonged use of antipsychotics and certain prescription medicines used to treat gastrointestinal disorders (metoclopramide and prochlorperazine). These medicines block dopamine receptors in the brain, which can result in irregular dopamine signaling in the part of the brain that controls movement. Symptoms may occur after a few months of taking antipsychotic medication.

Additional factors that may increase the risk of developing TD include:

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

4. What can I do to help someone who may have TD?

TD can exacerbate feelings of vulnerability, embarrassment, and frustration and impact a person’s overall well-being. To support them, it’s important to:

  • Understand how to recognize TD movements, whether mild, moderate, or severe.
  • Educate yourself on the cause and impact of TD.
  • Keep an eye out for the symptoms of TD.
  • Encourage them to talk to their health care provider.

5. Where can I learn more?

For more tips to help support someone living with TD, visit

For a disorder that affects hundreds of thousands of people, use this National Family Caregivers Month to better inform yourself and learn how to care for someone who may experience TD.

Celia Zinger is the executive medical director of medical affairs, psychiatry, at Neurocrine Biosciences. Zinger previously served as the clinical development and medical affairs lead for product candidates in the rare epilepsy and neurodevelopment disorders space, and she trained as an M.D. at the University Paris XII in ophthalmology and public health.


The views and opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author, and external content does not necessarily reflect the views of Mental Health America.