What Are the Leading Causes of Tardive Dyskinesia?

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The neurological syndrome known as tardive dyskinesia is caused by the long-term use of medications used for psychiatric treatment (neuroleptic drugs). The term "tardive" means delayed, and "dyskinesia" refers to unusual movement. Therefore, "tardive dyskinesia," a term coined in 1964, refers to the period between the initial use of the harmful drug and the onset of involuntary muscle movements.

The types of repetitive and involuntary movements related to tardive dyskinesia include grimacing, rapid eye blinking, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering or pursing the lips and repetitive chewing. Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is most likely to affect patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder. These patients are generally treated with antipsychotic medications for long periods.

Tardive dyskinesia also occasionally manifests in other patients. Those with fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental disabilities and other brain disorders are susceptible to the development of TD, despite receiving only one dose of the causative agent. Here’s a look at some of the leading causes of TD.