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Tardive dyskinesia (TD)

Find information on what tardive dyskinesia is, what causes it and what you can do to manage it.

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

This page covers:

It can be really worrying if your friend or relative has tardive dyskinesia (TD). Or maybe they've started taking antipsychotic medication and you're worried they might develop it in the future. But there are lots of things you can do that might help.

Practical tips for you

You can try to:

  • Learn more about TD and antipsychotics. It might feel helpful to understand more about their medication and what they're going through. This could also make your friend or family member feel more supported. You could start by reading through all our information about TD and our pages on antipsychotics.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of TD. Early detection is important to help your friend or family member manage TD. 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. To help start the conversation, you could show them our page on the signs and symptoms of TD.
  • Offer them practical help. TD can make some practical activities difficult, such as cooking, carrying things, or keeping up with housework. You could ask your friend or family member if they need any help with these kinds of tasks.
  • Look after yourself. Supporting someone else can be difficult, so it's important to take care of yourself too. For more information, see our pages on how to cope when supporting someone else, how to improve and maintain your wellbeing, and supporting someone else to seek help.

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

Supporting their wellbeing

To better support your friend or family member, you could try the following ideas:​

  • Support and encourage them to seek help. It might help to reassure them that it's OK to ask for help. This is true even when their symptoms are mild or not having a big impact right now. For more information, see our page on supporting someone else to seek help.

"My friend encouraged me to talk to my 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!"​

  • Try not to judge them. It can be really difficult watching someone you love develop TD, but it's important to remember that they aren't choosing to have these symptoms. They may not realise when they are happening. Try to stay calm and supportive – this can be really helpful if your friend or family member is feeling upset.
  • Help them to continue having a social life. If your friend or family member is feeling distressed or embarrassed, they may need encouragement to keep up with social activities. You could try asking them what sorts of activities they'd like to do, inviting them to family or social events, or helping them to pursue hobbies they enjoy.
  • 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 symptoms or draw unnecessary attention to them. The exceptions are helping them make sense of their symptoms, or making them aware of any changes you've noticed.

"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."

This information was published in December 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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