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Akathisia vs. Tardive Dyskinesia: A Comparative Analysis

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Medically reviewed by Dr. Shukla
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dr shukla neurologist tx
Medically reviewed by Dr. Shukla

When it comes to motion maladies, akathisia and tardive dyskinesia are distinctive. Akathisia provokes agitation, akin to an urge to shift. Tardive dyskinesia, also called delayed dyskinesia, triggers unconscious movements. These conditions, frequently medication-induced, can significantly impact everyday life.

Talking about akathisia vs tardive dyskinesia, both are forms of motor disorders. However, they exhibit differing symptoms and impact on daily life. Grasping these conditions is pivotal for effective management and treatment. While akathisia and dyskinesia share certain resemblances, they also possess unique characteristics. Akathisia entails a deliberate perception of motion coupled with unease. In contrast, delayed dyskinesia exhibits involuntary movements that go undetected.

Types of tardive dyskinesia manifest differently, affecting various body regions like the face, limbs, or trunk. Tardive akathisia amalgamates symptoms from both akathisia and tardive dyskinesia. It causes simultaneous restlessness and inadvertent movements.

Let’s delve into the attributes of akathisia and delayed dyskinesia, examining their origins, symptoms, and therapeutic options.


Defining Akathisia

Talking about akathisia and dyskinesia, we should understand the meaning of each of these terms. Akathisia is a motion disorder caused by certain medications. It makes you feel highly restless and uncomfortable. Imagine feeling like you have ants crawling under your skin, and you just can’t sit still. That’s what akathisia feels like. It’s like an itch you can’t scratch, a need to move that never disappears.

Among the most common indications of akathisia are: 

  • Restlessness. You feel like you need to constantly move as if you’re unable to sit or stand still for even a moment.
  • Fidgeting. You might find yourself tapping your feet, pacing around the room, or shifting in your seat.
  • Discomfort. A sense of unease or agitation accompanies the restlessness, making it hard to relax.
  • Inability to Find Relief. No matter what you do, the urge to move persists, and you can’t find any relief.
  • Irritability. The constant restlessness and discomfort can make you feel on edge, easily frustrated, or even angry.

Analyzing akathisia vs tardive dyskinesia, akathisia isn’t just a minor inconvenience. It can be dangerous because it affects your ability to function normally. Imagine trying to concentrate on a task or have a conversation when all you can think about is the overwhelming need to move. It can interfere with your work, relationships, and overall quality of life.

In severe cases, akathisia can lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts. The constant agitation and restlessness can become unbearable. This leads some people to resort to extreme measures in order to find relief. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms of akathisia and seek help as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of akathisia, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional. Treatments available can help alleviate the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Don’t suffer in silence – help is available.


Understanding Tardive Dyskinesia

Tardive dyskinesia represents a motor dysfunction frequently incited by specific medications. Diverging from akathisia, delayed dyskinesia encompasses involuntary gestures of the face and torso. These gestures may recur persistently and elude control. Tardive dyskinesia poses a significant peril because it can affect a person’s ability to eat, speak, and perform daily activities. It can also cause embarrassment and social isolation. Moreover, there exist various types of tardive dyskinesia.

Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia include:

  • Involuntary motions of the face, such as frowning or sticking out the tongue.
  • Repetitive movements of the limbs, such as finger tapping or foot shuffling.
  • Rapid blinking or fluttering of the eyelids.
  • Jerky movements of the trunk or torso.
  • Uncontrolled movements of the pelvis or hips.

Delayed dyskinetic symptoms can exhibit a spectrum of severity. Certain individuals may encounter minor manifestations, whereas others – conspicuous movements. Delayed dyskinesia is dangerous because it can interfere with essential functions. Among them are eating and speaking. Severe cases may lead to difficulties in communication and swallowing. This increases the risk of malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia. Additionally, unintentional movements can cause physical discomfort and pain.

An infographic comparing Akathisia and Tardive Dyskinesi


Types of Tardive Dyskinesia

Tardive dyskinesia predominantly impacts the face and body. However, many types still exist that can manifest in specific regions. Orofacial dyskinesia entails motions of the oral cavity and visage, whereas limb dyskinesia impacts the upper and lower extremities. Truncal dyskinesia encompasses motions of the torso or midsection. In certain instances, individuals may undergo a combination of these types, known as tardive akathisia. 

There exist the following types of tardive dyskinesia:

  • Orofacial Dyskinesia. Involves unintentional motions of the mouth and face, such as lip smacking, tongue protrusion, and grimacing. This type can significantly impact speech and eating abilities.
  • Limb Dyskinesia. Distinguished by recurrent, uncontrollable motions of the arms and legs. These movements may include flailing or jerking motions, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
  • Truncal Dyskinesia. Incorporates spontaneous motions of the trunk or torso. This variant can induce contorting or flexing actions of the torso. It may result in discomfort and challenges in sustaining balance.
  • Tardive Akathisia. Merges manifestations of tardive dyskinesia and akathisia. People undergo unbidden motions along with an urgent need to move. This may lead to a blend of recurring motions and an incapacity to sit still.

Each type of delayed dyskinesia presents its own challenges for individuals affected by the condition. Orofacial dyskinesia may interfere with communication and eating. Limb dyskinesia can impair mobility and coordination. Truncal dyskinesia may lead to discomfort and affect posture. And tardive akathisia combines physical and mental symptoms. This makes it incredibly distressing for those experiencing it.

Understanding the specific type of tardive dyskinesia an individual has helps determine the most appropriate therapy. While medications may help manage manifestations, there is currently no cure for tardive dyskinesia. Therefore, therapy focuses on minimizing symptoms and improving quality of life. There exist a few challenges posed by tardive dyskinesia. But despite this, ongoing research continues to explore new treatment options. 


Akathisia vs. Dyskinesia: What Sets Them Apart?

A person in a gray suit sitting down

The primary distinction between akathisia and tardive dyskinesia resides in the character of the motions. The person’s consciousness of them also holds significant importance. In akathisia, the individual is cognizant of their motions but experiences distress. Conversely, in delayed dyskinesia, the motions are unintentional and frequently unnoticed.

The primary distinctions of akathisia vs dyskinesia also include:

  • Manifestations. Akathisia elicits agitation, while dyskinesia prompts unpredictable motions.
  • Perception of Movements. In akathisia, you acknowledge your motion. Yet, in dyskinesia, you may remain oblivious.
  • Causes. Medications can cause both, but dyskinesia is often linked to long-term use.
  • Timing. Akathisia can manifest rapidly upon initiating medication. Dyskinesia typically requires a more extended period to emerge.
  • Therapy. Decreasing medication dosage could alleviate akathisia symptoms. Conversely, alternate medications or dosages might be necessary in case of dyskinesia.
  • Effects. Akathisia can induce distress. Dyskinesia might not significantly perturb the person affected.
  • Differentiating Features. Akathisia encompasses a feeling of agitation. Whereas dyskinesia entails uncontrolled motions.
  • Long-term Effects. Dyskinesia can become permanent with prolonged medication use. In contrast, akathisia may resolve once the medication is discontinued.

While both akathisia and dyskinesia are movement disorders, they have distinct characteristics. Understanding these differences is crucial for accurate diagnosis. This helps to manage these conditions appropriately.



In essence, comprehending the distinctions between akathisia and tardive dyskinesia is vital for effective therapy. Although both conditions entail motor disorders, their indications, origins, and treatments differ. Akathisia entails agitation and an urge to mobilize. Meanwhile, delayed dyskinesia presents as unintentional facial and body motions.

Acknowledging the classifications of tardive dyskinesia and the potential for tardive akathisia is pivotal. Professionals can enhance patients’ quality of life by addressing these ailments appropriately. Continuous education regarding akathisia vs tardive dyskinesia is a must for advancing patient care.

Raising awareness about these conditions among patients and caregivers can facilitate early recognition and intervention. So, watch out and take care of yourself with Lone Star Neurology!



What is the main difference between akathisia and tardive dyskinesia?

The main difference is in the nature of the movements and the individual’s awareness of them. In akathisia, the person is aware of their movements but finds them distressing. In tardive dyskinesia, the movements are involuntary and often unnoticed by the individual.


Are there any medications that commonly cause tardive dyskinesia or akathisia?

Yes, both conditions are commonly associated with the use of antipsychotic medications. Antidepressants can also cause akathisia. This refers to the drugs that also affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain.


Are there effective treatments for akathisia and tardive dyskinesia?

Treatment options vary but may include reducing the dosage of the offending medication, switching to a different medication, or adding medications specifically approved for the treatment of these conditions.


Can akathisia and dyskinesia occur simultaneously?

While they are distinct conditions, they can co-occur in some individuals. This is especially true for those who have been taking antipsychotic medications for an extended period.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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