What causes Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)?

Antipsychotic meds treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other brain conditions. Doctors also call them neuroleptic drugs.

They block a brain chemical called dopamine. It helps cells talk to each other and makes the muscles move smoothly. When you have too little of it, your movements can become jerky and out of control.

You can get TD if you take an antipsychotic drug. Usually you have to be on it for 3 months or more. But there have been rare cases of it after a single dose of an antipsychotic medicine. Older versions of these drugs are more likely to cause this problem than newer ones. Some studies find a similar risk from both types, though.

Antipsychotic medications that can cause tardive dyskinesia include older antipsychotics like:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Fluphenazine
  • Haloperidol
  • Thioridazine
  • Trifluoperazine

Your chances of getting TD go up the longer you take an antipsychotic medicine.

Some drugs that treat nausea, reflux, and other stomach problems can also cause TD if you take them for more than 3 months. These include:

  • Metoclopramide
  • Prochlorperazine

You're more likely to get it if you:

  • Are a woman who has gone through menopause
  • Are over age 55
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Are African-American or Asian-American







Goldberg, Joseph. “Tardive Dyskinesia: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment.” WebMD, WebMD, 13 Jan. 2019, www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/tardive-dyskinesia#1.

“NAMI.” NAMI, www.nami.org/learn-more/treatment/mental-health-medications/tardive-dyskinesia.

“Tardive Dyskinesia (TD).” Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, www.dbsalliance.org/education/related-concerns/tardive-dyskinesia-td/.

“Tardive Dyskinesia and Movement Disorders.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/6125-tardive-dyskinesia.

“Tardive Dyskinesia.” NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders), rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/tardive-dyskinesia/.

“Understanding Tardive Dyskinesia.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, www.mayoclinic.org/understanding-tardive-dyskinesia/scs-20460027.

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