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 I cope with TD?

If you can't get rid of tardive dyskinesia (TD), there are still things you can do to help you manage the symptoms and cope with living with TD. This page covers the following ideas:

I have never found anything to help me manage TD but as I have grown older I have found it slightly easier to cope with.

Look after your physical health

  • Get good sleep. If you're not sleeping well, you might find it harder to cope with your symptoms, both physically and emotionally. (For tips on getting better sleep, see our pages on coping with sleep problems.)
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well, think clearly, and give you more energy. This can mean you feel more able to cope with your TD. (See our pages on food and mood for more information.)
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is good for your general health, and if you're struggling with symptoms of TD, finding some gentle exercise you can do can help you feel more in control of your body. (See our pages on physical activity and our Get Set to Go campaign for more information.)

Focus on your wellbeing

  • Manage stress. Experiencing stress can make it feel even more difficult to manage your symptoms. For some people, stress can make the symptoms worse. There are lots of things you can do to make sure you don’t get stressed or look after yourself when you do. (See our pages on managing stress for more information.)
  • Take time to relax. Making time in your day to relax and focus on looking after yourself can make a big difference to how well you can cope with your symptoms. If you know that a certain activity helps you feel more relaxed – such as having a bath, listening to music or taking your dog for a walk – make sure you set aside time to do it. (See our pages on relaxation for lots more ideas.)
  • Try alternative treatments. You may find that treatments such as ecotherapy and mindfulness can help you feel better able to manage your emotions, and become more able to cope with TD. You might also want to try alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy or massage. (See our pages on ecotherapy, mindfulness, and complementary and alternative therapy for more information.)

My wife massaged my neck and arms after the episodes to help with the discomfort.

Seek extra support

  • Friends and family. Having the support of friends and family can be really important in helping you manage your symptoms. The kind of support they can offer includes:
    • being able to recognise signs that your symptoms are starting or changing
    • helping you look after yourself by keeping routine or thinking about diet
    • listening and offering understanding
    • helping you with physical activities you find difficult, like carrying your shopping or helping with the housework.

My ‘gurning’ has become a bit of a joke in the family and although not everyone can, I find it helps to just laugh about it! Although this doesn’t help with the physical pain it helps with the anxiety TD brings.

  • Peer support. Making connections with people with similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. You could try talking to other people who have experienced TD, take antipsychotics or have the same diagnosis as you to share your feelings find new ideas for looking after yourself. To find peer support:
    • Contact our Infoline or a local Mind to see what support there is in your area.
    • Try an online peer support community, such as Elefriends. (See our page on finding support online for more ideas, and guidance on how to do this safely.)
    • Contact a specialist organisation (see below).
  • Specialist organisations. You could try contacting a specialist organisation to seek support for your symptoms, or your diagnosis. You might also find this a way to connect with other people who've experienced TD. Depending on what sort of support you would find useful, you could think about contacting:
    • The Dystonia Society. Although dystonia is a different condition to TD, they have lots of information on coping with involuntary movements and managing movement disorders.
    • The National Tremor Foundation supports people experiencing all forms of tremor. Although they don't specifically cover tardive dyskinesia, if tremor-like movement problems are affecting you, you might find their information and support groups helpful.
    • Parkinsons UK has information on coping with movement disorders, including some types of dyskinesia and anti-Parkinsons drugs.
    • Some organisations also provide support for specific mental health problems. For example, Bipolar UK can help if you experience bipolar disorder, and the Hearing Voices Network support anyone experiencing psychosis. (Search our A-Z of mental health to find more information and useful contacts for different diagnoses.)

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

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