Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a condition that causes uncontrollable, repetitive movements in different parts of your body, such as your face, limbs, and torso. This neurological disorder not only presents physical difficulties but also affects daily life.

TD might cause you to make faces, stick out your tongue, smack your lips, or blink quickly. This condition is often linked to using specific mood and psychiatric medications, as well as some gastrointestinal drugs.

These medications can trigger TD by affecting dopamine levels in your neurological system, resulting in involuntary and repetitive movements.

You have a greater risk of developing TD if you’ve been taking any of these medications for a long time.

Although TD is treatable, the expense of managing it can be challenging for some people. Here’s a look at different treatment options, approximate costs, and tips for handling these expenses.

When treating TD, your doctor might first try to manage your symptoms by reducing your use of certain medications— if it’s safe to do so. But this isn’t always possible if you have a severe mental health condition. Changing your dosage might cause your symptoms to come back.

In these situations, your doctor might switch your medication to one that reduces dopamine’s impact on your brain. Options include newer medications such as clozapine and quetiapine.

If switching your medication doesn’t reduce your TD symptoms, the next step is prescribing a medication that specifically regulates your dopamine levels, ultimately reducing involuntary movements.

Two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of TD are deutetrabenazine (Austedo) and valbenazine (Ingrezza). They work by adjusting the levels of neurotransmitters — particularly dopamine — in your brain.

Deutetrabenazine and valbenazine primarily target VMAT2, a protein involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters. By inhibiting VMAT2, these medications decrease the amount of dopamine released into synapses (spaces between nerve cells), which in turn helps ease TD symptoms.

The prices for these medications vary depending on the pharmacy. If you don’t have insurance, a 30-day supply of deutetrabenazine (12 milligrams [mg]) might cost more than $2,000, while a 30-day supply of valbenazine (40 mg) could cost more than $5,000.

Insurance can help cover some of these costs. Before getting your prescription, check with your insurance company or pharmacy to see what’s covered.

OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections might help reduce TD symptoms. These injections work by blocking nerve signals and, as a result, temporarily weakening or paralyzing specific muscles.

The effects are temporary, lasting weeks to months, so you might need more injections at a later date.

The cost of these injections can vary depending on where you get them and how many you need. The average cost is $350 per month.

Insurance coverage varies by plan. You’ll likely need approval beforehand, and the decision to cover this treatment might depend on the severity of your TD symptoms and how other treatments have worked for you.

DBS is a potential treatment for TD that involves implanting electrodes in your brain to regulate abnormal neural activity.

While DBS has shown promise, it’s an invasive procedure, and its effectiveness for TD is still being researched. Costs for surgery, device implantation, and follow-up care can be substantial. According to one report, the 5-year cost of DBS can be $27,497–$35,531.

DBS is FDA approved and covered by most health insurance companies, although some insurance companies require prior authorization before you can have surgery.

Certain lifestyle habits can be helpful in managing TD.

Getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, practicing relaxation techniques to help manage stress, and getting enough sleep can all contribute to your overall well-being and might positively affect TD symptoms.

Some people also find that it’s helpful to incorporate ginkgo biloba — an herbal supplement known for its potential cognitive benefits — into their routine. However, it’s crucial to discuss this with your doctor before trying it.

The costs of treating TD can be tough to manage, especially if you don’t have insurance. And even with insurance, there are costs to consider. Here’s how to make TD management more affordable.

1. Patient assistance programs

Patient assistance programs can help significantly reduce the financial burden of TD medications.

Pharmaceutical companies often provide assistance programs to help people access their prescribed medications. If you’re eligible for the deutetrabenazine financial assistance program and you’re new to taking the medication, you can receive a 30-day free trial voucher and pay $10 or less for your medication.

If your doctor prescribes valbenazine, you may be able to access the INBRACE Support Program, which also provides a 1-month free trial when you’re new to the medication. If you’re eligible, this program might also allow you to pay less than $10 out of pocket for the medication.

These programs may not be an option if you have Medicare or Medicaid. Check with your Medicare or Medicaid plan to find out what types of programs it offers.

2. Discount programs

If you don’t have insurance, discount programs such as Optum Perks can be a big help, too. These programs offer discounts on prescription medications, making them more affordable. You can use the programs’ websites or apps to find the best prices at pharmacies near you.

When you get your prescription, you can show the discount card to the pharmacist and they’ll apply the lower price. Similar programs include Blink Health and RxSaver.

3. Prescription assistance programs

You can look into prescription assistance programs offered by nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Programs such as NeedyMeds, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, and RxAssist may provide financial assistance or connect you with resources to reduce medication costs.

4. Health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible spending accounts (FSAs)

If you have an HSA or FSA, you can consider using it to cover eligible medical expenses, including the costs of TD medication.

5. Clinical trials

Participating in clinical trials may allow you to access experimental treatments at reduced prices or no cost. You can talk with your doctor for information about ongoing clinical trials for TD.

Discount programs, patient assistance programs, and prescription assistance support are some of the ways you can manage the cost of treating TD.

Talk with your doctor to explore your options, and remember that you’re not alone on this journey.