Characteristics Of Brain Zaps
A main objective of the data collection was to obtain responses on the characteristics of the brain zaps. Regarding the length of a single brain zap, 1 second was the most frequently given answer, followed by a half second, 2 seconds, and 3 seconds. There were even higher durations given but in low numbers.
Responses asking about localization did not reveal clear tendencies. The highest number of responses was simply head or brain . Of the more specific localizations, there was a slight tendency to point to the front . A small number of responses were localized outside the head/brain, including arms/hands/fingers: 99, body: 74, throat/tongue/teeth/face/lips: 45, and legs: 35.
Respondents were asked to describe the brain zaps in an open-ended question, which required respondents to type their responses in the form of free text. Several clear groupings emerged .
My Interest In Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal
I started SurvivingAntidepressants.org because of my own awful experience ofantidepressant withdrawal. At age 50, in excellent physical health, I was prescribed10mg paroxetine for work stress, following which I developed sexual dysfunction,emotional anesthesia, and, after a couple of years, demotivation.24,25 After adisastrous psychiatrist-directed switch to escitalopram, I sought tapering advice atthe nearby outpatient psychiatric clinic of an internationally recognized universitymedical center. Receiving none, I went off paroxetine over a few weeks in 2004. Afew years prior, I had stepped off 2years treatment with 10mg fluoxetine, anothercommon selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , for pre-menstrual symptomswith no difficulty.
My symptoms persisting over years, I must have contacted dozens of psychiatrists whohad written about antidepressant withdrawal. Every one immediately told me I wasexperiencing relapse except Richard Shelton at Vanderbilt University,26 who responded, I actually think the discontinuation syndrome is pretty badin some situations and truly horrible in others.almost all resolve that is, exceptfor a very small group, where the symptoms become persistent.
Counseling cases like mine every day, I do not want more people to suffer as Isuffered.
A Low Serotonin Hypothesis
It was once thought that low serotonin was the cause of anxiety disorder . To treat this chemical imbalance, patients were given antidepressant medications that were thought to increase the deficient chemicals, and over time, restore them back to a healthy level.
But people taking these medications often experienced brain zaps as a side effect of these medications. Theorists speculated that brain and head zaps were caused by low levels of serotonin and how the medications were trying to elevate them.
There are problems with this theory, however. Many people have low levels of serotonin yet dont experience brain or head zaps.
Read Also: Best Podcast For Mental Health
The Effects On Daily Life
In the research published in the Primary Care Companion, 40 percent of individuals indicated the negative effects of brain zaps had a significant interference in daily functioning, including 17 percent who identified the effects as having an overwhelming interference with functioning.
Brain zaps are likely to occur with other neurological effects such as vertigo, confusion, tremors and visual changes. Additionally, the phenomenon is typically associated with depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood changes and sexual dysfunction.
Medication withdrawal symptoms may occur for days or weeks after use. However, studies show that symptoms may persist longer after SSRI discontinuation. Some medications have persistent symptoms years after discontinuation.
Why Do People Look For Tapering Help Online
Just as I did 15years ago, people who have conditions that are not wellunderstood by medicine search the Internet for answers.17,43,44 We wouldvery much prefer to refer people to knowledgeable medical providers, but websitemembers have been unable to find them. Many experienced painfully unsuccessfultapers following a physicians recommendations, restarted the drug, and, havinglost confidence in their prescribers, want finally to stop it. Others mistrustprescriber uncertainty about tapering. All fear withdrawal symptoms.17,4551
Prescriber failure to monitor, recognize, and timely address withdrawal symptomsis the motivation for almost all the site membership. In their attempts to gooff the drugs, almost all have been told they have relapsed,2,52 even themany who suffered brain zaps a hallmark of withdrawal syndrome andespecially those who have had mysterious symptoms for years, consistent withpsychotropic PWS.35,36,5355 They turnto the Internet because they question this diagnosis.
You May Like: What Are Mental Health Issues
Ready To Start Tms Call Us At 503
If a patient decides to stop taking antidepressants, their doctor will help them structure the best possible tapering schedule. Some of the factors that are used to determine a tapering schedule include the length of time a patient has been on a medication, the current dosage, any side effects experienced, and the general health profile of the patient.
Some general tapering tips for patients:
- Think about why you are stopping the medication. Talk to your doctor about your experience with side effects so that they can choose the best tapering schedule for you.
- Buy a pill cutter to help you quickly cut the pills into smaller doses, if instructed by your doctor.
- Follow the schedule through until the very end.
- Stay in touch with your doctor and report any side effects.
- Talk to a therapist. A therapist can help you cope with any side effects or returning symptoms of depression or anxiety while you are tapering the medication.
How Long Can Brain Zaps Last
Brain zaps caused by anxiety and chronic stress typical last for a brief moment or two, and occur occasionally and not frequently. For example, you could have one or two brain zaps one day and then not have another one for days or weeks.
Brain shivers caused by medication or withdrawing from medication also last just a moment or two, but they can occur more frequently, such as several times a day and day after day.
Brain zaps will occur as long as the cause is left untreated.
You May Like: Can Chemotherapy Cause Brain Damage
Effects Of Brain Zaps On Quality Of Life
The last section of the questionnaire regarded the effect of brain zaps on quality of life. Most of the 2,267 respondents reported a negative effect. Of these, 17% were overwhelming, causing very significant interference with functioning, and about 40% each were significant or some negative effects, respectively. Only 54 respondents reported no noticeable effect, and 11 reported that the brain zaps were enjoyable.
Of all the respondents, 1,313 stated that they did not report the symptoms to a professional 897 said that they did, of whom 615 told the prescriber. The total number of times something was recommended by the prescriber was 413. The breakdown of the most frequent recommendations is provided in Table 5.
As for other suggestions, see neurologist was recommended 11 times. Relatedly, meclizine was the most frequently prescribed nonAD medication, which was noted to be of very little help. There were 86 miscellaneous recommendations, including tests such as hearing test, brain imaging, echocardiogram, and electrocardiogram, as well as a large variety of psychotropics and vitamins. These highly heterogenous recommendations had only one thing in common: they were barely or not at all helpful.
How Do You Treat Brain Zaps
Brain shakes are an unusual and mysterious symptom of withdrawal from certain medications, particularly antidepressants. Theres no clear way to get rid of them, but if youre decreasing your dose of a medication, do it slowly and over a longer period of time and that may help you avoid brain shakes altogether.
Also Check: Pine Belt Mental Health Hattiesburg Ms
What Is Paxil And Why Is It Prescribed
Paxil© entered the drug market in 1992. Other brand names include Aropax© and Seroxat©.3 Paxil is available in immediate-release and extended-release forms. This medication is classed as an SSRI type of antidepressant. SSRIs are primarily discussed as serotonergic, that is, targeting the transmitter serotonin. However, chronic or long-term Paxil use also targets many other neurotransmitters including acetylcholine, histamine, dopamine, GABA, noradrenaline, and glutamate as examples.27,33 Paxil is FDA-approved to treat a wide variety of disorders, including MDD , OCD , PD , SAD , GAD .15 It is also prescribed off-label to treat numerous other disorders, including binge eating, hot flashes associated with menopause, paraphilias , Raynaud phenomenon , fibromyalgia, and others.2
Paxil is frequently prescribed for anxiety due to its sedating and calming effects. There can be dangerous drug-drug interactions if taking other medications at the same time as Paxil. Always ensure your healthcare provider knows exactly what other drugs you are taking.21
Drinking alcohol while taking Paxil is not recommended. In some cases, combining Paxil and alcohol can be lethal and can induce serotonin syndrome, agitation, disorientation, and other risks.11
Adjust Or Discontinue The Medication
If you think that your medication might be causing brain zaps, you can consider talking to your doctor. You might want to switch or change the dosage. But the best thing to do is taper off it instead of abruptly stopping.
Besides, if youre already in the process of discontinuing it, you might experience AWS. During this time, brain zaps are most common. So, make sure to go through discontinuation safely with your doctors guidance.
Youll want to consider asking the doctor to establish a timeline thatll help with the process. They might consider some of these factors:
- The current dose
- The period of your medication
- The side-effects you experienced with medication
- Experience with the withdrawal syndrome
- Your health in general
When you gradually decrease the medication dose, your body gets time to adjust. Consequently, with these adjustments, the brain can prevent several withdrawal symptoms.
Exercise and diet play a vital role in extending ones lifespan. Studies find that the body uses up nutrients faster than the optimum rate under stress. A healthy diet can replenish our body and keep it balanced when stressed.
If youre considering getting off antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, you can follow these tips. These will allow you to transition into its absence more smoothly:
- Remember why youre stopping. Try to narrow down the particular cause that prompted your decision. Was it the side effects, or did it not work? Maybe consider a different medication altogether.
You May Like: Games For The Brain Com
Alcohol As A Cause Of Brain Zaps
Professionals are unsure how precisely how brain zap attacks are caused by withdrawal syndrome or antidepressant discontinuation.
However the common theme is discontinuation.
Discontinuation syndrome occurs when suddenly quitting drinking or certain medications rather than weaning off slowly .
Brain zaps also occur after reducing or interrupting alcohol consumption or sudden withdrawal from antidepressant medicines.
Thus, discontinuing SSRIs, including Paroxetine, Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Escitalopram, and Sertraline, or alcohol consumption after heavy use, cause brain shocks.
Brain zaps are not the only alcohol withdrawal symptom an individual experiences after quitting alcohol.
The Significance Of Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms are not inconsequential they indicate the nervous system isbecoming destabilized,24,56,57 accounting for the variety and variability of symptoms.27 According to established pharmacological principles, chronic application ofany psychotropic brings about neurophysiological processes: adaption, tolerance, andpotential dependence with withdrawal upon reduction of the drug.58 A homeostasis premised on presence of the drug, physiological dependence isnot synonymous with addiction, which may co-occur with somepsychotropics.5961 Considered evidence ofphysiological dependence, withdrawal symptoms are the unwinding of drug-inducedneurophysiological adaptation.36,57,62,63 Symptomatic experience ofadaptation, dependence, tolerance, or withdrawal is individual.64
Don’t Miss: Brain And Memory Herb Pharm
What Causes Brain Zaps When Falling Asleep
Brain zaps when falling asleep are often related to hypnic jerks. A hypnic jerk myoclonus – is an involuntary twitch of one or more of the bodys muscles that occur as you are transitioning from a wakeful state to a sleeping state. They can range in severity from barely noticeable to so dramatic that they startle you awake.
Most people experience hypnic jerks from time to time. They are often more prevalent when the body is under stress. We explain hypnic jerks in more detail previously on this web page.
Take The Brain Zaps Questionnaire
Patients know that most medical professionals are unwilling to acknowledge brain zaps and usually attribute them to worsening of neuropsychiatric conditions and/or a somatic disorder. Because brain zaps are a legitimate phenomenon among psychiatric patients, a subset of professionals agree that it would be useful to develop guidelines for their prevention and/or treatment.
After being presented with a patient experiencing severe brain zaps, a clinical psychiatrist decided to conduct an investigation by formatting a questionnaire. I was asked to include the questionnaire on this page.
If youre interested in helping medical professionals better understand brain zaps, feel free to participate in the following survey: Click here to take the Brain Zaps Questionnaire. The questionnaire results will be used to develop guidelines for brain zap prevention, minimization, and/or treatment. .
Read Also: West Michigan Community Mental Health
Studies On Brain Zaps
Scientists have boosted memory skills in healthy volunteers by zapping their brains with weak electromagnetic pulses.
This memory network that we targeted has been shown to be impaired in a variety of disorders, says lead investigator Joel Voss, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.
He used a transcranial magnetic stimulation that involves a wand emitting a changing magnetic field. This wand can induce changes in electrical patterns of nearby neurons when pressed against the skull.
Researchers stimulated an outer layer of the brain called the lateral parietal cortex which is strongly related to the hippocampus, an important brain area for memory. The researchers stimulated this area in 16 adult volunteers for five consecutive days. Each stimulation session lasted 20 minutes, during which volunteers would feel 2 seconds of pulsing, then 28 seconds of nothing, then 2 seconds of pulsing.
Another study on brain zaps established that an electrical-activity pattern in a key brain region predicts impulsive actions just before they occur.
Using mice, researchers supplied a small electrical pulse to the brain region in question . As soon as the electrical signature manifested, it prevented the mice from overindulging in fatty food. However, it didnt affect their intake of normal food, their social behavior, or other physical activity.
Behaviors Triggering Brain Zaps
Another open-ended question asked about behaviors triggering brain zaps. For 1,669 respondents, a specific trigger was associated with zap onset. By far, the greatest number of reports was for eye or head movements . Head movements were included with eye movements because they tend to trigger the vestibulo-ocular reflex, which moves the eyes. There were 203 unspecified movement responses, making a total of 1,215 responses that specifically, or possibly, refer to the movement of eyes as a trigger. Other triggers are shown in Table 4.
You May Like: Collective Mind Strike Pack Ps4
How To Stop Brain Zaps
There are no known medical treatments that are prescribed specifically to stop the brain zaps. In most cases, people will have to put up with them and understand that with proper time, they will eventually subside. Below are some recommendations that may help you better deal with the zaps.
Serotonin Depression And Brain Zaps: The Jolting Brain Phenomena
Have you ever been shocked by your outlet when youre going to plug in a charger? It feels like a little prick on your finger, followed by a very fuzzy sensation. Next, imagine the same sensation happening in your brain constantly.
This article will introduce the concept of brain zaps a real phenomenon that happens to an individual who is experiencing withdrawal from a certain kind of medication. Read on to learn more about what brain zaps are, who they affect, and what it means for an individuals health.
Read Also: How To Clear Your Mind Quickly
Can You Experience Withdrawal From Buspar
According to a 2019 review, more than half of people who attempt to come off antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms.
Typically seen when taking SSRIs such as fluoxetine , a 2015 review suggests that its possible with other mood-altering medications such as Buspar.
Since Buspar affects the serotonin levels in your brain, abruptly stopping your medication places you at a higher chance of experiencing withdrawal.
Signs to look for with withdrawal include:
Electric Shock Feeling Anxiety
When you experience electric shock feeling anxiety, it can be very frightening and uncomfortable.
This sensation may feel like an electric shock going through your body, and it can be accompanied by feelings of fear, panic, and uneasiness.
If you are experiencing this type of anxiety, it is important to understand that you are not alone. Many people experience electric shock feeling anxiety at some point in their lives.
There are a number of things you can do to help manage this type of anxiety.
First, it is important to understand the source of your anxiety.
What are you afraid of?
What is causing you to feel this way?
Once you have identified the source of your anxiety, you can work on addressing those fears head-on.
This may involve seeking counseling or therapy, or it may simply involve talking to a friend or family member about your fears.
In addition, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce the physical symptoms of electric shock feeling anxiety.
Try to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of sleep. These things will help keep your body healthy and strong, which can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety.
Additionally, try to identify any relaxation techniques that work for you. When you feel anxious, take a few minutes to relax and breath deeply. This can help calm your mind and body down.
Finally, remember that you are not alone. There are many people who understand what you are going through and who want to help.
Recommended Reading: How To Rewire Your Anxious Brain