Managing Tardive Dyskinesia in Social Situations

Medically Reviewed By Nancy Hammond, M.D.
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When you have symptoms of tardive dyskinesia (TD), you may experience uncontrollable, repetitive muscle movements in your face, neck, arms, or legs. Learn simple steps you can take to feel confident about daily interactions and your social life.

Laughing group of friends hanging out on rooftop

Think about the TD symptoms that may be interfering with your social life. Do they include any of the following?

  • eye blinking
  • grimacing
  • lip smacking
  • neck twisting
  • jerking hands or legs

Reflect on how symptoms are affecting your social life. Do they cause you to decline invitations or leave events earlier than you planned? Do they make you nervous before seeing people? Sad or angry afterward? Write down what you discover so you can share it with your doctor.

Stay in touch with your doctor 

For most people living with TD, it’s helpful to visit the doctor every few months to check up on symptoms and evaluate treatment options. TD is most often a side effect of certain medicines for psychosis, nausea, or Parkinson’s disease — even if you’ve stopped taking them. 

If you’re still taking them, it may be possible to change the dose or try another medicine that doesn’t cause TD. Never adjust your medicine on your own. Always consult with your doctor about medication changes.

Depending on your symptoms and how much they bother you, your doctor may recommend a medicine specifically to reduce your involuntary movements. These can include valbenazine (Ingrezza) and deutetrabenazine (Austeda). 

If medicine doesn’t help minimize involuntary movements, deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be an option.

Try to reduce stress

Many people living with TD have more pronounced symptoms when they are stressed out. Have you found yourself getting stressed about a social interaction, having more severe symptoms, then getting stressed about the symptoms? It can become a cycle. Consider experimenting with one or more of these relaxation techniques before your next outing:

  • deep breathing
  • meditation
  • mental visualization
  • pilates
  • yoga

You might find it helpful to listen to music, exercise, get out in nature, and take breaks from screens, including social media. Make time for your favorite hobby or explore a new one. 

Find a support group 

While it’s tempting to avoid social situations because of TD symptoms, it’s not healthy for anyone to become isolated. Think of a trusted friend or family member to share your challenges. In-person and online support groups are also good places to go for empathy and encouragement, two things everyone needs. If you feel depressed or anxious, tell your doctor. You may benefit from mental health therapy or medication through a professional counselor.

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Medical Reviewer: Nancy Hammond, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Nov 9
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