Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tardive Dyskinesia: Jen's Story

A charming young woman with some digestive problems was given psychotropic (antipsychotic) medications. Medical decisions made for her have permanently disabled her; she has Tardive Dyskinesia - TD - and is in a wheelchair - probably for life.
Jen's Pages
"Why is this young woman in a wheelchair?"

"Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Features of the disorder may include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing of the lips, and rapid eye blinking. Rapid movements of the extremities may also occur. Impaired movements of the fingers may also appear. For comparison, patients with Parkinson's disease have difficulty moving, while patients with tardive dyskinesia have difficulty not moving.
Other closely related neurological disorders have been recognized as variants of tardive dyskinesia. Tardive dystonia is similar to standard dystonia but permanent. Tardive akathisia involves painful feelings of inner tension and anxiety and a compulsive drive to move the body. In the extreme, the individual undergoes internal torture and can no longer sit still. Tardive tourettism is a tic disorder that can closely mimic Tourette Syndrome, sometimes to the point where the two can only be distinguished by the details of their onsets. Tardive myoclonus, a rare disorder, presents as brief jerks of muscles in the face, neck, trunk, and extremities."

- Wikipedia

Antipsychotics are not the only medications that can cause TD. You can also get this condition from antidepressants. Depending on where you live, your doctor may or may not be legally bound to tell you about side effects of medications s/he prescribes for you, This information is available from drug companies - pharmacists in the US can show you in the "Big Red Book" and in Canada in the "CPS" - and on package inserts.
This information is in the Merck Manual too. Another online resource, very amusing and factual, is here.

Get good information before you make a medical decision; mistakes can be very costly.