Extrapyramidal Symptoms


Akathisia is closely related to dyskinesia. Akathisia is an extreme form of internal or external restlessness. It may be a complete inability to sit still, with an undeniable urge to be moving constantly. Or it may be an entirely inner feeling of jitteriness or shakiness. Akathisia can be exhausting and debilitating. In fact, severe akathisia may put an individual at risk for suicide, simply because it can be so unbearable.
Tardive akathisia refers to akathisia that occurs after long-term medication use, and may become permanent.


Dystonia is a muscle tension disorder involving very strong muscle contractions. These uncontrollable muscle contractions can cause unusual twisting of parts of the body, especially the neck. The condition can be extremely painful and can affect any part of the body, including the eyes. If it appears after several years of medication use, it is called "tardive dystonia," and may become permanent.

Other Extrapyramidal Symptoms

There are many more kinds of extrapyramidal symptoms. Sometimes, they resemble Parkinson's disease, with shuffling-type walking and unusual hand or finger movements. This is called "parkinsonism." Sometimes, the symptoms affect a person's ability to speak or may cause vocal tics (uncontrollable speech or other vocal sounds).

Dealing With Extrapyramidal Symptoms

It is important to know that there is help for extrapyramidal symptoms. Symptoms that appear early in treatment can be especially easy to deal with. Simply switching medications or adding a medication such as benztropine (Cogentin®) can be helpful. Since extrapyramidal symptoms can be distressing, it is important to let your healthcare provider know right away if you experience any of them.
Tardive symptoms (which appear late in treatment) may be relieved by stopping the antipsychotic medication or by adding medications to control the symptoms, although sometimes they become permanent. The best way to prevent them from becoming permanent is to let your healthcare provider know right away if you develop them.
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