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Managing TD While Managing a Mental Health Disorder

How tardive dyskinesia can impact how you mange schizophrenia and what you can do about it.

A doctor comforts a patient during a medical visit.

Schizophrenia can be a challenging condition to manage, and it can be made more challenging if you begin to experience side effects from medications.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is an involuntary movement disorder. It is most commonly associated with neuroleptic medications (also called antipsychotic medications), which are a standard therapy for schizophrenia. TD also occurs in some people who are taking medications to manage certain digestive disorders.

Here, we look at some strategies and tips for staying on track with your mental health treatment plan while managing TD.

Work with the right healthcare provider

Working with the right healthcare provider means working with a healthcare provider that has experience treating TD. Treatment for TD often involves making changes to the medications you are already taking, such as lowering doses or switching to a different medication. There are also medications that can lessen the symptoms of TD.

Working with the right healthcare provider also means working with a healthcare provider you trust and who you feel you can be honest with. Because schizophrenia is a challenging condition to live with, and can affect moods, thoughts, and a person’s ability to communicate with others, it’s important that you and your healthcare provider have a good working relationship and open lines of communication.

Be proactive

If you have been prescribed a medication that can cause tardive dyskinesia, your healthcare provider should be monitoring you for side effects, including involuntary movements.

You play an important role in the monitoring process. You should alert your healthcare provider about any changes in your symptoms, any side effects that you are experiencing (involuntary movements as well as others), and any difficulties you are having.

  • Be prepared for your appointments. Before an appointment, write a list of questions you have and topics you would like to cover.
  • Keep a daily record of your symptoms and moods. This can help you and your healthcare provider identify changes and patterns in symptoms and monitor how well your treatment is working.
  • Make a list of all medications you take. This list should include prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements (including herbal supplements). Medications can interact with other medications and cause unwanted side effects.

Seek support

A good support system can be very helpful to people who are managing schizophrenia, TD, or both. A good support system can start with friends and family. Some people managing these conditions find it helpful to have a loved one whom they trust attend appointments with them to take notes and ask questions. A supportive loved one can also help you with the practical aspects of managing a condition, such as reminding you to take medications or helping you organize condition-related paperwork.

Other people who are living with schizophrenia or TD can be another source of support. Ask your healthcare provider about support groups for people living with similar conditions. Support groups are organized meetups where people with a shared experience can gather to talk, listen, and ask questions.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

While schizophrenia and TD may feel overwhelming and all-encompassing at times, do not neglect the other aspects of your health. Keep regular appointments with your primary care physician as well as your mental health practitioner. Manage any other health conditions that you have. Avoid harmful habits like drugs and alcohol (and seek treatment if you are struggling with problematic substance use). Build your life around healthy habits including eating well, getting enough exercise, and getting enough sleep.

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