You may be able to reduce tardive dyskinesia with treatment. Some lifestyle behaviors, like getting enough sleep and exercise, can help.

Tardive dyskinesia is a side effect of neuroleptic or antipsychotic drugs, which affect the activity of chemicals in the brain, particularly dopamine, which is involved in muscle movement.

Doctors use these drugs to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions.

People who take these medications for a few months or years may notice jerky movements of their face, neck, and body that they can’t control. These movements could be tardive dyskinesia, a known side effect of these drugs.

Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia can include:

  • sticking out your tongue
  • blinking your eyes
  • making sucking motions with your mouth
  • grimacing
  • twisting your neck
  • jerking your arms and legs

Researchers don’t know why some people develop these movements and others don’t. The motions are uncontrollable, which can make life with tardive dyskinesia unpredictable, frustrating, and sometimes embarrassing.

Some things may help manage your condition. Here are nine ways to help you feel more in control of your movements when you have tardive dyskinesia.

The more you know about tardive dyskinesia and its treatments, the better you’ll be able to manage your symptoms.

Consider discussing your symptoms with a neurologist, a specialist who treats nervous system conditions. You can also learn about this condition from websites like the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Managing tardive dyskinesia starts with a visit to the doctor who prescribed your neuroleptic medication. Your doctor will do an evaluation to see if you can safely reduce the dose or stop taking the drug under their direction.

Never stop taking a prescribed medication without guidance from a doctor. In some cases, stopping a medication abruptly can cause additional complications.

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If you still need the medication to manage symptoms of a mental health condition like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you may be able to switch to a newer medication called an atypical antipsychotic drug. These medications are less likely to cause tardive dyskinesia than older antipsychotic drugs.

Two medications are now also approved to address the tardive dyskinesia itself. Deuterabenazine (Austedo) and valbenazine (Ingrezza) help control the activity of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, in parts of your brain that control movement, although the exact mechanism of action is unknown.

Some medications approved for other conditions can also be used to treat tardive dyskinesia. Clonazepam (Klonopin) and the Parkinson’s disease drug amantadine (Symmetrel) may help relieve muscle stiffness.

Some people find that their movements get worse or become harder to control when they’re feeling stressed. You can’t always avoid stress, but you can manage it by:

  • exercising
  • getting enough sleep
  • spending time outdoors
  • practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation
  • talking with a mental health professional who can provide strategies for managing stress

Experiment to find the technique that works best for you. Then, try to incorporate it into your daily routine.

The uncontrollable movements of tardive dyskinesia can make you want to isolate yourself from others and leave you feeling alone.

But try to lean on friends and loved ones. You can also join a tardive dyskinesia support group, where you’ll connect with other people who know what you’re going through and can share advice from their own experiences.

Adding more activity to your routine supports your physical and mental health. Regular exercise is also helpful for relieving symptoms of schizophrenia.

You don’t have to go to a gym to exercise. A daily walk can provide physical activity.

Consider meeting with a physical therapist for advice on how to tailor exercises to your individual abilities.

If you have tardive dyskinesia, the movements will not occur while you’re asleep, according to 2013 research. But a lack of sleep and poor quality sleep might make them worse.

Practice good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Keep your bedroom a comfortable temperature, dark, and comfortable. Try to do something relaxing before bed, like reading a book or taking a warm bath.

Free radicals are harmful molecules that damage cells. They may contribute to a risk of developing tardive dyskinesia as a side effect of neuroleptics. Extracts from the Ginkgo biloba tree act as an antioxidant that may combat the harmful effects of free radicals.

A small 2023 clinical trial found that ginkgo biloba extract was an effective and safe treatment to help manage drug-induced tardive dyskinesia.

Ginkgo biloba is available in supplement form and is safe for most people who take it in the recommended amount. But because it can cause side effects and may interact with some medications, you’re better off checking with a doctor before taking it.

Tardive dyskinesia movements could make some of your daily activities more difficult.

Use assistive devices to make tasks easier, like grippers for pens and utensils, an electric toothbrush, and voice dictation on your smartphone. You can also ask friends and family for help if you need it.

Consider talking with your doctor about once every 3 months. They can evaluate your symptoms to see whether you need to make any more adjustments to your treatment.

You’ll want to keep track of your symptoms between visits. Let your doctor know if any new symptoms appear and how they affect your life.

How do you calm tardive dyskinesia?

You may be able to relieve symptoms of tardive dyskinesia with doctor-directed medication changes, natural remedies like ginkgo biloba, and some lifestyle behaviors like stress reduction.

How can I reverse tardive dyskinesia naturally?

You may be able to lessen tardive dyskinesia by taking ginkgo biloba, getting regular physical activity and enough sleep, and managing stress.

What stops tardive dyskinesia?

You can have tardive dyskinesia due to certain medications. In some instances, doctors may recommend changes to your medication to reduce symptoms or certain prescriptions that may help treat tardive dyskinesia.

What reverses tardive dyskinesia?

While there isn’t necessarily a way to reverse tardive dyskinesia, medication changes may help reverse tardive dyskinesia caused by medication. Some people may have fewer symptoms if they manage stress, get enough sleep, and get regular physical activity.

Tardive dyskinesia affects everyone differently, and a treatment strategy that works for someone else won’t always be as effective for everyone.

Working closely with your doctor on your treatment plan and taking steps to manage involuntary movements in your day-to-day life can help you feel more in control of these involuntary movements.