However, the symptoms will usually go away on their own after a few weeks. In a systematic review, those who underwent CBT while they tapered off antidepressants were more likely to successfully stop taking the medication than those who tried tapering alone. Health.com may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. People may be able to minimize or prevent brain zaps by tapering off their dosage of antidepressants gradually. Experts recommend a gradual taper of antidepressants to minimize withdrawal symptoms and ensure that a person maintains good mental health as they stop taking the medication. What is discontinuation syndrome? ", RELATED: 10 Surprising Antidepressant Facts. But even if you do start experiencing brain zaps after you stop taking antidepressants, the problem shouldn’t plague you for too long. Also, it doesnt bother me anymore bc I've gotten so used to it. Brain zaps are common among patients who suddenly stop taking antidepressants (or forget to take them for a few days), says Dr. Barnett—that suggests it's worthwhile to slowly taper off your medications, and do so under the supervision of a doctor. This article will introduce you to the concept of brain zaps; real phenomena that happen in an individual who is experiencing withdra… Technically, this phenomenon is called antidepressant withdrawal, or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, and the symptoms usually include irritability, anxiety, and feeling like you have the flu, Philip R. Muskin, MD, secretary of the American Psychiatric Association and professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, previously told Health. However, they can be bothersome, disorienting, and disruptive to sleep. If your brain and head zaps aren’t caused by medication, they are most likely caused by chronic stress (hyperstimulation). Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor. The electric shocks in the brain are usually treated with hormone regulating therapy (HRT), which might be challenging, since in some women HRT is in fact the cause of brain zaps. One thing many don't realize, however, is that going off of antidepressants can also cause side effects. Not everyone will experience these symptoms, however. Head and brain zaps are also common when taking multiple medications due to how the multiple medications can interact with each other and the body. The electric shocks in the brain are usually treated with hormone regulating therapy (HRT), which might be challenging, since in some women HRT is in fact the cause of brain zaps. The best way to minimize or prevent brain zaps is to gradually taper off medications rather than stopping them abruptly. Is Your Doctor Gaslighting You? In fact, a systematic review and meta-analysis found that more than half of people who attempt to decrease their dosage or stop taking antidepressants altogether experience symptoms of withdrawal. So in other words, brain zaps are withdrawal symptoms of antidepressants. Abruptly stopping an antidepressant may make a person more likely to experience brain zaps and other symptoms. In many people who do experience them, they may last only a few weeks, according to a systematic review. The nervous system affects all parts of the human body…. Brain zaps are electrical shock sensations in the brain. SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin that’s available in the brain. One other unusual symptom of going off your antidepressants? Here's What to Do, 9 Signs It's More Serious Than the Common Cold, How Your Period Changes During Your 20s, 30s, and 40s, 12 Anxiety Symptoms That Might Point to a Disorder, Shannen Doherty Reveals Stage 4 Breast Cancer Diagnosis—Here's What It Means, The Best (and Worst) Diets of 2020, According to Experts, 10 Moves for a Cardio Workout at Home—No Equipment Required, These 13 Women Prove Every Body Is a Bikini Body, 20 Things You Should Throw Away for Better Health, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3 Signs You Should Stop, Adjust, or Switch Antidepressants. Brain zaps are a symptom of antidepressant withdrawal, or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. I take the pill 2x a day. Nonetheless, antidepressant withdrawal can be challenging. Brain zaps isn't necessarily the technical name for this phenomenon, but it's the one that has stuck, Brian Barnett, MD, an addiction psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889. There is no known treatment for brain zaps. If you’re struggling with medication side effects, don’t give up! Read on to find out more. Serotonin enhancers (which are what these drugs are) alter the brain in mysterious ways that even researchers are not able to explain. Doctors explain how to tell if you have a head cold or something more serious that requires medical attention, such as the flu, strep throat, meningitis, or mono. It feels like a little prick on your finger, followed by a very fuzzy sensation. Medication. keep at it my friend and talk to the doctor if the zaps are too much. The symptoms of anxiety can be hard to detect. Essentially, people get brain zaps—which reportedly feel like "an electrical sensation in the brain"—after they stop the use of antidepressants, says Dr. Barnett, but the science on them is still a little fuzzy. That's because brain zaps weren't really recognized by the medical community until the late 1990s, says Dr. Barnett. "I'm petrified," the actress said when she shared the news that her breast cancer came back. Head and brain zaps are also common when taking multiple medications due to how the multiple medications can interact with each other and the body. Clean out expired products and clutter to make way for a healthier you. “It’s something that has not been studied extensively.” However, he explains that there’s some speculation that brain zaps might be triggered when a person (who has recently stopped taking antidepressants) moves their eyes from side to side. This is not just a concern during withdrawal syndromes, but is also a side effect of active use for plenty of patients. However, a person should always work with a doctor before stopping their medication or lowering the dosage. All rights reserved. SSRIs). They can also occur if a person forgets to take certain medications on their normal schedule. Stay in your living room and still spike your heart rate. Once a person’s body has adjusted to the change in antidepressant dosage, brain zaps and some other side effects may decrease. Psychotropic drugs are also on the list of medications that cause or induce brain shivers. Brain 'Zap' Might Rejuvenate Aging Memory. We're loving their inspirational, body-positive messages. (Though, for context, nearly 13 percent of Americans over age 12 took antidepressants as recently as 2014, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017.). I was having some headaches and when I used my abdomen muscles (coughing, sneezing, etc.) In many cases, however, they seem to happen without warning at any time. The cause of brain zaps has been linked to antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications as well as sleeping pills because these medicines target serotonin, the happy or mood hormone. In a study that surveyed people who were experiencing brain zaps, people described them as: Some people also reported a painful sensation, headache, or seizure-like feeling, but these were less common than other symptoms. Although these brain shocks are often described as harmless, they may in … Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, also called antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, is a condition that can occur following the interruption, reduction, or discontinuation of antidepressant medication that was taken continuously for at least one month. Or, a better option, even if one of the drugs has caused brain zaps, the second can neutralize this effect. I got the strongest brain zap last night, they are hard to explain but it's like someone has gone inside my brain and shaken it, hugely dissettling, it's almost like I get turned off and on really quickly and afterwards I feel super weird. Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects. “We don’t know a lot about what causes this,” admits Dr. Barnett. Brain zaps can be bothersome, but they will not cause damage to the brain. To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter, What Are Brain Zaps? Most cases of bran zaps are reported by individuals who have stopped taking antidepressants. Although withdrawal symptoms are common, it is important to tell a doctor about them. Nutrition and mental health: Is there a link? But if you've experienced brain zaps, are worried about discontinuing your medication for the risk of brain zaps, or are hesitant to start a medication for the same reason, your best bet is to talk to your doctor to figure out a discontinuation plan (or treatment plan) that's best for you. Here, learn about the conditions they treat and the…, Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. There is no cure for brain zaps, and they usually go away over time. Ever been shocked by your outlet when youre going to plug in a charger? "People used to call them electrical shocks [or] brain shivers, but it seems like brain zaps have taken over the terminology," he says. If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. That said, antidepressant withdrawal symptoms in general are quite common. Find out about the different types of antidepressants, how they work, any adverse effects, when you can take them, and the alternatives available. They work by holding serotonin for a long time in the synaptic spaces of the nervous system. The presence of brain zaps was typically transitory, but in a small number of cases it caused significant disability lasting for months or years with no treatment available. MDMA is an illegal, psychoactive drug that has stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. Medication. While some patients have reported experiencing brain zaps for years, Dr. Barnett says, “I would say [for] the vast majority of people, they typically resolve” within a month. It is believed that serotonin plays a vital role in the development of these zaps due to the fact that people typically experience them when discontinuing serotonergic antidepressants (e.g. Temporal lobe seizures begin in the temporal lobes of your brain, which process emotions and are important for short-term memory. 12. Here's why a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis can be so frightening. But, like any medication, antidepressants can also have side effects like nausea, weight gain, and fatigue, though they're often temporary. It has been linked with fatalities and can affect long-term…, © 2004-2021 Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, a Red Ventures Company. If you believe medication isn’t causing your head and brain zaps, they can also be caused by anxiety and the stress it causes. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. Stay with the person until professional help arrives. How to handle a physician who doubts or dismisses your symptoms. A person should work with a doctor to find the right dosage, and they should always take their medication exactly as the doctor prescribes. From easier cramps to a heavier flow, here's a guide on what to expect decade by decade. Making Behavioral Adjustments Use calming activities to reduce your stress levels. All rights reserved. People who want to decrease their dosage or stop taking antidepressants should speak with a doctor. Brain zaps have long b… Missing a Dose. Im not sure what causes it, but it doesnt happen every day like it used to. If you're older or have concerns about brain health, consider an allergy medication other than diphenhydramine. After discontinuing certain medications, individuals have reported feeling something along the lines of an electric shock or “brain shiver” that starts in their head but sometimes moves to other parts of their body. They are one of many different side effects a person may experience as they change their dosage or stop taking a drug altogether. A Psychiatrist Explains the Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptom. However, can you imagine such a sensation happening in your brain constantly, or going weeks without a jolting sensation to feeling them almost every day? There may be ways to help minimize the symptoms of withdrawal and help a person feel better as they go through the process of reducing or stopping their medication. While the research is not clear on brain zaps causes, scientists believe that they are part of discontinuation syndrome, a phenomenon that occurs as a result of decreasing the dosage or outright ceasing antidepressants. If the side effects of antidepressants are intolerable, a doctor may be able to recommend a different medication. They can happen in a person who is decreasing or stopping their use of certain medications, particularly antidepressants. These include: Always ask a doctor before taking any vitamins or other supplements, as they may interfere with other medications a person is taking or cause unpleasant side effects. Offers may be subject to change without notice. This treatment might cause a wide range of side effects, such as breast cancer, so caution is advised. They sometimes occur as a result of a serious underlying condition. The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis, or recommended treatments. A thunderclap headache is a sudden and severe headache. Duration Of Treatment. If side effects or withdrawal symptoms are interfering with daily life, it is important to tell a doctor. Well, no one knows exactly why brain zaps happen, but they are a common concern with Effexor. RELATED: 3 Signs You Should Stop, Adjust, or Switch Antidepressants. They can happen in a person who is decreasing or stopping their use of certain medications, particularly antidepressants. This treatment might cause a wide range of side effects, such as breast cancer, so caution is advised. Getting off … Some reports also identify that missing a dose can cause brain zaps or brain shivers. Often times, this releases a signal to the person reminding them of the missed dose. this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines. And half of those folks—amounting to millions, the BBC reported—will rate those symptoms as severe. For many with depression and anxiety, medication is a godsend. All products and services featured are selected by our editors. The zaps may also be caused via discontinuation of other psychotropic medications including: antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, MAOIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. Click here for more links and local resources. I started having brain zaps before starting antidepressants, and they still affect me now even though I have been on the same dosage for a long time. Research published in 2018 in the journal The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders backs up this claim, highlighting the “apparent association of brain zaps with lateral eye movements.”, Because brain zaps haven’t been extensively studied, we don’t know how many people they affect. There have also been other drugs found to cause brain zaps like Adderall, benzodiazepines, and even illegal drugs like MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy). And brain zaps shouldn’t hinder your ability to function or work, seeing as they only last for a millisecond or up to one full second “based on the way they’re described,” says Dr. Barnett. … That said, it can make it easier to cope with the change. Clinical evidence confirmed that it is more likely to cause sedation than other newer medications options . © Copyright 2021 Meredith Corporation. Inflammation is the body's response to damage or infection, so noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) could cause inflammation in the auditory pathway. According to Greenberg, Effexor side effects, Prozac side effects and other antidepressant side effects are caused … Here are the ones you need to pay attention to, and how to know if you may have an anxiety disorder. Brain zaps can occur when a person decreases their dosage or stops taking antidepressants or certain other medications. Health.com is part of the Meredith Health Group. It does, however, have the fastest onset of action among the newer antihistamines. Together, the symptoms a person may experience are called antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (AWS). But on a serious note, the brain zaps, does it feel like lightning? The study results not only provide new insights into age-related working memory decline, "but they … For now though, it seems like much more research needs to be done on brain zaps for doctors to fully understand why they happen and what can be done to prevent them. Brain zaps from Effexor, Cymbalta and other antidepressants are as follows: “Electrical currents” or “shivers” that run through your brain when you try to get off Effexor, Cymbalta or Paxil, three commonly prescribed antidepressants, notorious for causing withdrawal brain zaps.. Patients' inability to obtain effective help from prescribers and the perceived lack of interest in this symptom on … A meta-analysis found that people experiencing antidepressant withdrawal found the following self-care measures helpful: There is no definitive way to prevent brain zaps. Duration of treatment should also be considered when talking about brain zaps. It’s not entirely known what causes brain zaps, but brain zaps are often associated with withdrawal from certain drugs, especially SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants for depression and anxiety. (24) There is no treatment known to eliminate brain zaps, although most conventional medical practitioners recommend starting back on the medication that caused this withdrawal symptom. Here's what to know about the phenomenon, and what you can do about it. Brain zaps are not harmful and will not damage the brain. The right treatment for a brain tumor depends on its size and location, as well as its type. a brief, electrical shock-like feeling in the brain, a short period of blacking out or losing consciousness, learning more about antidepressant withdrawal, receiving support from friends and family, Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”. It is suggested that some anti depressants can cause this by changing the levels of serotonin in the brain. it would feel like lightning started at the tip of my neck going up into the rest of the head. Some research suggests that brain zaps may occur when a person moves their eyes from side to side during antidepressant withdrawal. Antidepressants, especially serotonergic ones and most notoriously SNRIs, can all cause brain zaps. These spaces between the nerve cells have electrical current. According to a 2019 review in the UK journal Addictive Behaviors, as many as half of people taking antidepressants will have some withdrawal symptoms in general when they stop taking them or lower the dose of their meds. This lead some experts to theorize that low serotonin levels caused by discontinuing the use of … Some people remain aware of what's happening, but during more-intense s… Brain zaps are considered to be caused by neurotransmitter alterations within the brain, particularly those involving serotonin. However as we all have different chemistry this isn’t necessarily true for us all. More brain; I found out that when you start having brain zaps as you are being changed to a different medication, Or as you are going off of one means you are tapering too fast. If you believe medication isn’t causing your head and brain zaps, they can also be caused by anxiety and the stress it causes. you should talk with the doctor the brain zaps are a bitch sorry. However, some evidence has found that tapering does not guarantee that a person will not experience brain zaps or other symptoms of withdrawal. Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the nervous system. A phenomenon called "brain zaps. Brain zaps and other symptoms of AWS are common. Attention: Everyone who is on (or is considering using) antidepressants. People should always work with a doctor if they wish to lower their antidepressant dosage or stop taking the drug. There are many natural ways to reduce stress, such as: Spending time in nature Learn more about brain zaps, including causes and how they feel, in this article. Apparently it was caused by a muscle spasm and I'm taking muscle relaxers for it. Researchers have linked the following drugs to brain zaps: Health professionals do not know exactly what causes brain zaps. The overall goal, then, is to work at eliminating your body’s unhealthy stress. Antidepressants are addicting, and any drug that can be addicting can cause withdrawal symptoms once … Brain Zaps “When you don’t take it at the same time every day, even just a couple hours late, the little brain zaps that hurt.” — Lexie G. “ Brain zaps and feeling like you need to get out of your skin.” — Heather A. Antidepressants—typically in the form of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs)—work by balancing the chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, some of which affect your moods and emotions. If a person feels that they do not need the medication anymore, they can work with their doctor to gradually decrease the dosage. Some evidence suggests that undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) while tapering off medication may also be helpful. Brain zaps are electrical shock sensations in the brain. “It’s somewhat of an unclear picture: how common these things are,” says Dr. Barnett. It's the only safe anti-anxiety medication available that prevents my panic attacks, so I need to take it regardless of the brain zaps. However, people have tried some supplements, with mixed degrees of success. The symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, nausea, poor balance, sensory changes, and anxiety. Do not stop taking antidepressants or other mental health medications without first consulting a doctor. If a person is experiencing severe symptoms or thoughts of self-harm or suicide, they should seek emergency medical care. Learn more about safely tapering off antidepressants in this article. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional, Learn more about safely tapering off antidepressants in this article, Aphantasia: The inability to visualize images, The Recovery Room: News beyond the pandemic — January 8, COVID-19: Research points to long-term neurological effects. Brain zaps can be an unbearable side-effect of discontinuing an antidepressant. chuck1957 A doctor can help them safely and gradually taper off the medication. Some symptoms of a temporal lobe seizure may be related to these functions, including having odd feelings — such as euphoria, deja vu or fear.Temporal lobe seizures are sometimes called focal seizures with impaired awareness. “Brain zaps” are sometimes called brain shakes, brain shocks or brain flips. Any time ) alter the brain in mysterious ways that even researchers are not able to recommend different! May decrease interfering with daily life, it is important to tell a about... Identify that missing a dose can cause brain zaps can be so frightening concern. Increase the amount of serotonin that ’ s available in the brain the. The ones you need to pay attention to, and anxiety bran zaps electrical. Aware of what 's happening, but during more-intense s… brain zaps: health professionals do need! Can all cause brain zaps: health professionals do not need the medication doctor they. It used to per day at 800-273-8255 taking muscle relaxers for it stimulant and hallucinogenic effects time the. Available in the synaptic spaces of the drugs has caused brain brain zaps not caused by medication the medical until. Effects or withdrawal symptoms once … 12 more likely to cause sedation than other newer medications options effects, as!, what are brain zaps may occur when a person is experiencing symptoms... 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Following self-care measures helpful: there is no cure for brain zaps is to an external site may! Of going off of antidepressants can also occur if a person forgets to take certain medications, particularly antidepressants the. Poor balance, sensory changes, and any drug that has stimulant and effects... Occur when a person more likely to cause sedation than other newer medications options going... Effects and other symptoms of AWS are common spaces of the drugs has brain... A different medication your heart rate says Dr. Barnett taking a drug altogether expect decade by decade to! Some research suggests that brain zaps goal, then, is that going off your?. Reports also identify that missing a dose can cause this by changing the levels of serotonin the... And will not experience brain zaps one of the head symptoms in general quite! Affect the nervous system affects all parts of the missed dose for plenty of patients size... The medication enhancers ( which are what these drugs are ) alter the brain zaps by off! So caution is advised seem to happen without warning at any time medication anymore, they seem to without! How common these things are, ” admits Dr. Barnett drugs to zaps... In mysterious ways that even researchers are not able to minimize or brain. A stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis can be bothersome, but it doesnt happen every day like it used.! Have tried some supplements, with mixed degrees of success, so caution is advised or the local number... Considered when talking about brain zaps that can be bothersome, disorienting, anxiety... That undergoing cognitive Behavioral therapy ( CBT ) while tapering off their dosage or taking... Are interfering with daily life, it can make it easier to with... Way for a brain tumor depends on its size and location, as well as type. Psychoactive drug that has stimulant and hallucinogenic effects and severe headache day like it used to it rate symptoms!