Tetrabenazine: Uses & Side Effects

Tetrabenazine reduces the amount of certain chemicals in the body that are overly active in people with Huntington’s disease.It is used to treat Huntington’s chorea (uncontrolled muscle movements). What’s more, it may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


You should not use tetrabenazine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • severe or untreated depression;
  • suicidal thoughts;
  • liver disease; or
  • if you have taken reserpine in the past 20 days.

Do not use tetrabenazine if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.

To make sure tetrabenazine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • depression, an emotional disorder, or mental illness;
  • a history of suicidal thoughts or actions;
  • past or present breast cancer;
  • heart disease or heart rhythm disorder;
  • a personal or family history of long QT syndrome; or
  • if you recently had a heart attack.

Taking tetrabenazine may increase your risk of depression or thoughts about suicide. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether tetrabenazine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.


Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use tetrabenazine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

You may take tetrabenazine with or without food.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.

You should not stop using tetrabenazine suddenly or your symptoms may return. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking this medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • tremors, shaking, restless movement, problems with balance;
  • uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement, blinking or eye movement);
  • trouble swallowing;
  • fast or pounding heartbeats;
  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out; or
  • severe nervous system reaction–very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats.

Common side effects may include:

  • drowsiness, tiredness;
  • depressed mood;
  • nausea; or
  • feeling anxious, agitated, or restless.

Keywords: tetrabenazine

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