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Here’s what to know about tardive dyskinesia

Here’s what to know about tardive dyskinesia

Tardive dyskinesia is a well-known side effect that is caused by the usage of some antipsychotic treatments. These treatments are used to manage mental health disorders like schizophrenia and other similar illnesses. Every person getting these treatments is not guaranteed to develop this side effect. However, when the side effect occurs, it is usually a permanent symptom. Speaking to a healthcare professional to understand how best to manage this is recommended.

Signs and symptoms
This illness causes the body to experience uncontrollable stiff and jerky movements. Different categories of symptoms are involved; some have to do with the face, called Orofacial dyskinesia or oro-bucco-lingual dyskinesia. Symptoms under this include uncontrollable chewing, smacking or puckering of lips, blinking the eyes very fast, grunting, frowning, sticking out the tongue without trying, and puffing out cheeks.
Other sets of symptoms involve the limbs, called dyskinesia of the limbs, which affects the arms, toes, fingers, and legs. Wiggling of fingers, flapping of arms uncontrollably, tapping of feet, swaying side to side, thrusting the pelvis.
All these movements are involuntary and uncontrollable, fast or slow, and vary from person to person.

Causes and risks
Antipsychotic treatments or neuroleptic treatment methods are used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other similar brain illnesses. They work because these treatments block the dopamine in the brain, which helps the cells interact slowly and carry out functions like muscle movements. However, when too little dopamine is in the brain, the movements can become jerky or out of control.
Usually, this disease develops three months into the treatment period, or more sometimes—the chances of anyone getting TD increase if the treatment continues for too long.
Some demographic is more at risk of developing TD than others, including women who have gone through menopause and are now on treatment for some mental illness. Anyone who is over the age of 55. Anyone who has a history of unhealthy lifestyle choices. And also, African Americans or Asian Americans are at higher risk than the rest of the population.

Diagnosis
TD can be hard to detect early because the symptoms only appear after months or years of treatment for psychosis. Due to this, it makes it difficult to understand when exactly the disease developed.
However, some tests help understand the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale, a detailed physical exam a doctor performs to understand the symptoms. There can be blood tests and brain imaging scans, like a CT or MRI.

Treatment options and prevention
Health professionals aim to prevent TD instead of reaching a stage where treatment is required. So doctors, when they prescribe treatment for antipsychosis, will also inform about this side effect. It is important to keep getting regular checks done to ensure that the symptoms are at bay and necessary steps are taken to prevent the development of the disease.

There are some FDA-approved treatment plans for TD, and these treatments regulate the amount of dopamine in the brain, which helps in muscle movement function. Always speak to your doctor about management tips and be aware of all symptoms.

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