Epidemiology of tardive dyskinesia before and during the era of modern antipsychotic drugs

Handb Clin Neurol. 2011;100:601-16. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52014-2.00043-4.


Late or tardive dyskinesias/dystonias (TD), contrary to expectation, have not disappeared with the use of expensive, modern antipsychotic drugs (APDs). Risk appears to be substantially lower than with older neuroleptics, and there is sparing of most acute movement disorders traditionally associated with APD treatment. However, risks of TD with modern APDs have been reduced much less than expected, by perhaps two- to threefold or even less, with substantial risks in the elderly. Major challenges in assessing prevalence or, preferably, incidence of TD arise from prolonged and erratic past exposure to various APDs, relatively recent use of modern APDs, and the occurrence of spontaneous movement disorders (about 5% and more in the elderly). TD risks associated with modern APDs may be similar to some older neuroleptics, especially those of low-moderate potency. Risperidone (and its active metabolite paliperidone), at high doses, may carry unusually high TD risk, whereas TD risk is low with clozapine, and perhaps quetiapine and aripiprazole. Optimistic expectations for the efficacy and neurological safety of modern APDs have encouraged their wide use in many conditions, sometimes off-label or in combinations, with little research support, increasing the chance of a higher prevalence of TD, especially at older ages. Measures to limit TD risk include: (1) critical, objective indications for APD use; (2) long-term use only for compelling or research-supported indications, primarily chronic psychotic illness that worsens when APD is slowly discontinued; (3) avoiding off-label indications; (4) using alternative treatments when APD treatment is elective, or early dyskinesia is identified; (5) using low but effective doses of single APDs, especially in the elderly; and (6) regular and specific examination for early TD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy
  • Movement Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Movement Disorders / etiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Antipsychotic Agents