Tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Explains what tardive dyskinesia is, what causes it and what you can do to manage it.

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How can other people help?

This page is for friends and family who want to support someone who experiences tardive dyskinesia (TD).

If your friend or relative has recently started taking antipsychotic medication, or has developed TD, there are things you can do to help:

  • Learn more about TD and antispychotics. Your friend or family member could feel more supported if you understand their medication and what they're going through. You could read the rest of our pages on TD, and take a look at our pages on antipsychotics to get familiar with these topics.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of TD. Early detection is important to help your friend or family member have the best chance of getting rid of TD, so if you notice they're developing new symptoms it’s important to gently let them know – even though you may not want to worry them or make them feel self-conscious. You could show them our page on signs and symptoms of TD to help them think about their own symptoms.
  • Support and encourage your friend or family member to seek help. You can help to reassure them that it’s ok to ask for help, even if their symptoms are mild or not having a big impact on them right now.

[My friend] encouraged me to talk to my CPN [community psychiatric nurse], offered support and reminded me to take both my medication for psychosis and also the side effect tablets. [They also] reminded me that I've got through bouts of illness before and that I would get through them again!

  • Stay positive. Developing TD can be really emotionally challenging, so staying calm and supportive can be really helpful if your friend and family member is feeling upset.
  • Be sensitive. If your friend or family member is experiencing TD, they may feel very self-conscious or worried that people are looking at them. Try not to focus on their unusual movements or draw attention to them unnecessarily (unless you are helping them make sense of their symptoms, or making them aware of any changes you've noticed to support them to seek help).

I would say show empathy each and every step. [...] General non-judgmental, positive support and understanding that you are not mad [is] a big help.

  • Help them to continue having a social life. If your friend or family member is feeling distressed or embarrassed, they may need some encouragement to keep up social activities. Social contact is really important to our mental wellbeing, so try inviting them to take part in social events, and help them to keep up hobbies they enjoy.
  • Offer practical help. If the symptoms are severe then TD can make some practical activities difficult (such as cooking or carrying bags and objects). You could ask your friend or family member if they need any help with these kind of tasks.
  • Look after your own wellbeing. Supporting someone else can sometimes be tough, so it's important to make sure you take care of yourself. (See our pages on how to cope when supporting someone else, how to improve and maintain your wellbeing, and how to support someone else to seek help for more information.)

There has nothing anyone has been able to do to help me manage it, but they have done a lot to help me cope.

This information was published in October 2015. We will revise it in 2018.

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