4 Types of Medication That Can Lead to Tardive Dyskinesia

4 Types of Medication That Can Lead to Tardive Dyskinesia

Pamela Bandelaria |Oct 4, 2021

What Causes Tardive Dyskinesia?

Mental health is something that is very much highlighted nowadays and rightfully so. Thankfully, we now have a variety medication and treatment options to help treat diseases, but sometimes they can have certain side effects. One example of this is a condition called tardive dyskinesia. So, what cause tardive dyskinesia? It may sound very foreign, but it is one of the usual side effects of certain medications for mental or mood disorders. In this article, you will find out what tardive dyskinesia is, what its symptoms are, what causes it and how it is treated.

What is Tardive Dyskinesia?

Tardive dyskinesia is a syndrome that affects the brain and nerves. It is characterized by involuntary movements of the arms, legs, or limbs, as well as involuntary gestures, such as sticking out of the tongue and sudden and repetitive blinking of eyes. Tardive dyskinesia is a side effect of taking antipsychotic medications which are used to treat people with conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and other mental health or mood-related disorders. Cases have been increasing over the past years and around 500,000 people are affected in the U.S. Not everyone who takes antipsychotic medications will experience it, but it can occur in some people.

What Are the Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia?

Dyskinesia is a medical term for involuntary movements of the body. People with tardive dyskinesia may experience a sudden stiffness of muscles in portions of their body, causing jerky movements that they cannot control. This can occur in the muscles of the face and mouth. This includes fast blinking of the eyes, uncontrolled sticking out of the tongue, uncontrolled movements of the mouth, such as chewing, puckering the lips, puffing out cheeks and frowning.

Dyskinesia of the limbs can also affect extremities, causing uncontrollable wiggling of the fingers, tapping of the feet on the floor, flapping of arms, thrusting out of the pelvis and swaying from side to side. These movements can be fast or slow, but they can affect daily activities and some affected people will find it hard to work. This condition is hard to diagnose because symptoms may take months or years to appear and can occur even with the discontinuation of medication.

Tardive Dyskinesia Causes

Antipsychotic medications treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, depression and other brain conditions. These are also called neuroleptic drugs. These medications block the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger of the body. Having a small amount of dopamine in the body causes jerky and uncontrolled movements seen in this condition.

The antipsychotic drugs or medications that can cause tardive dyskinesia are the following:

1. Haloperidol

This medication is used to treat various and certain mental or mood disorders like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders. This medication helps you to think clearly, feel less panic and prevents suicidal thoughts in people who are likely to harm themselves. It can also be used to treat Tourette’s syndrome, which also involves uncontrolled movements or twitching.

The side effects of Haloperidol include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Difficulty urinating.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Headaches.
  • Anxiety.

2. Fluphenazine

This is an antipsychotic drug that is used to treat schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and hostility.

Using this medication can cause side effects such as:

  • Upset stomach.
  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Excitement.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nightmares.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Skin sensitivity.
  • Rashes.

If the following symptoms occur, like constipation, difficulty in urinating, excessive sweating, jaw, neck and back muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat and fever, consult a doctor.

3. Risperidone

Also known as Risperdal, this is used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia as well as episodes of mania, aggression, self-injury and sudden mood changes. This is usually given to teenagers and children aged 5 to 16 years of age who have autism.

Risperidone has side effects such as:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Constipation.
  • Heartburn.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Dreaming more than usual.
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety.

4. Olanzapine

Also known as Zyprexa, this is used to treat schizophrenia in adults and teenagers. It is also used to treat bipolar disorder.

Its side effects include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Depression.
  • Weakness.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Weight gain.
  • Constipation.
  • Pain in joints.
  • Late or missed menstrual periods.
  • Decreased libido.

Serious side effects include seizures, changes in vision, swelling of muscles, excess sweating and difficulty in swallowing. If these symptoms occur, consult a doctor.

Treatment Options

Proper diagnosis is helpful in order to treat tardive dyskinesia early. The best way to avoid it is not taking any medication that can cause the condition. If the medication cannot be avoided or no alternative medications are available, the medicine can be given by starting with the smallest possible dose.

Natural remedies and adjuncts can also help, but there is no scientific basis that they are beneficial and needed in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia. Natural remedies include ginkgo biloba, melatonin, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.

If prescribing antipsychotic drugs cannot be avoided and symptoms occur, the two FDA-approved medications to treat tardive dyskinesia include Deutetrabenazine and Valbenazine. Both of these medications work in similar ways to regulate the amount of dopamine flow in the brain area in order to control certain movements in the body. Just like management of mood and mental disorders, managing tardive dyskinesia is also done on a case-to-case basis. At the end of the day, your doctor will prescribe what is best for your situation.

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