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What are the Different Types of Tardive Dyskinesia Treatment?

Kathy Heydasch
Kathy Heydasch

There is no known proven cure or effective treatment for tardive dyskinesia, which is a neuromuscular disease resulting in the slow onset of uncontrollable facial movements. Since the condition is nearly always brought on by the use of antipsychotic drugs, the simplest and most basic tardive dyskinesia treatment is to discontinue the drug thought to be causing the problem. When that is impossible, various medicines have shown some success in tardive dyskinesia treatment or management, such as tetrabenazine and chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride, but no treatment has shown to be reliable or without its own set of dangerous side effects.

Although this condition is nearly always the result of the use of antipsychotic drugs, tardive dyskinesia treatment is not as simple as discontinuing the medicine. In fact, in some cases, the sudden withdrawal of some forms of medicine has resulted in the onset of the condition. A slow withdrawal from these drugs is usually recommended as the best treatment, although some symptoms, once presented, might be irreversible.

Anxiety is one possible side effect of tardive dyskinesia treatment.
Anxiety is one possible side effect of tardive dyskinesia treatment.

Since there is no known cure for tardive dyskinesia, doctors are testing new and various ways of managing the disorder every day. One such possibility is a tranquilizer called chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride. Better known by its trade name, Librium®, chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride has shown some effectiveness in managing the condition. The drawbacks to using Librium® for tardive dyskinesia treatment are that it is intensely habit-forming, and it has not shown a consistent level of effectiveness in trial studies to warrant its widespread use.

Some patients are treated with tetrabenazine, which has side effects that can include anxiety and neuromuscular problems.
Some patients are treated with tetrabenazine, which has side effects that can include anxiety and neuromuscular problems.

Tetrabenazine is a drug used to treat symptoms of other neuromuscular diseases such as Huntington's disease and Tourette syndrome; therefore, it makes sense that it might be an effective tardive dyskinesia treatment. Tetrabenazine is known in the US as an "orphan drug," which means it was developed for symptoms affecting less than 200,000 people annually, so it is not widely researched. It has shown to be a promising tardive dyskinesia treatment by stimulating the metabolism of dopamine. Unfortunately, the side effects of tetrabenazine can include anxiety, sleep problems, a need to pace or walk briskly around a room, or other neuromuscular symptoms.

Tetrabenazine is a potential treatment for tardive dyskinesia, although it can cause anxiety and sleep problems, among other side effects.
Tetrabenazine is a potential treatment for tardive dyskinesia, although it can cause anxiety and sleep problems, among other side effects.

Even if the antipsychotic drugs that caused the tardive dyskinesia are discontinued, there is no guarantee that the unwanted facial movements will go away. In some cases, the damage is permanent and only the management of symptoms through the use of other drugs is possible. Research on the topic is ongoing.

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    • Anxiety is one possible side effect of tardive dyskinesia treatment.
      By: Minerva Studio
      Anxiety is one possible side effect of tardive dyskinesia treatment.
    • Some patients are treated with tetrabenazine, which has side effects that can include anxiety and neuromuscular problems.
      By: nadezhda1906
      Some patients are treated with tetrabenazine, which has side effects that can include anxiety and neuromuscular problems.
    • Tetrabenazine is a potential treatment for tardive dyskinesia, although it can cause anxiety and sleep problems, among other side effects.
      By: Johan Larson
      Tetrabenazine is a potential treatment for tardive dyskinesia, although it can cause anxiety and sleep problems, among other side effects.
    • Tardive dyskinesia often occurs as the result of the use of antipsychotic drugs.
      By: Monkey Business
      Tardive dyskinesia often occurs as the result of the use of antipsychotic drugs.