In Search of Treatment for Tardive Dyskinesia: Review of the Literature

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Studies on the treatments for neuroleptic-induced tardive dyskinesia published in the English literature until August 1978 are reviewed. There is as yet no single satisfactory method of treatment for tardive dyskinesia. Withdrawal of neuroleptics results in a remission of symptoms in younger and non-brain-damaged patients. Paradoxically, the most effective treatment for suppressing dyskinesia is administration of neuroleptics. The possibility that continued use of neuroleptics in dyskinesia patients produces irreversible brain damage remains to be validated (or invalidated). Anticholinergic and dopaminergic drugs are of no value in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia. Cholinergic drugs have not lived up to their initial promising results in this condition. About one third of the dyskinetic subjects seem to respond to various nonspecific measures. Tardive dyskinesia probably consists of at least two subtypes—reversible and persistent. Methodological aspects of earlier studies and possibilities for future research in this field are discussed. Suggestions for treatment of individual cases are also outlined.

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