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Brain Zaps: Causes & Treatments For Electrical Shock Sensations

Brain zaps are commonly reported electrical shock sensations that are often experienced during discontinuation of antidepressant medications. Other common names for brain zaps include: brain shivers, electrical shocks, and brain shocks. People often describe them as feeling electrical current uncontrollably zapping their brains, which can be extremely frightening and uncomfortable. A person experiencing these zaps may get dizzy, feel minor pain, and high levels of discomfort.

What causes brain zaps?

Brain zaps are considered to be caused by neurotransmitter alterations within the brain, particularly those involving “serotonin.” 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. SSRIs). The zaps may also be caused via discontinuation of other psychotropic medications including: antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, MAOIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants.

  • Antidepressant withdrawal: During withdrawal from antidepressant medications, “brain zaps” are considered common symptoms to experience. It is believed that the severity and length of brain zaps may be related to whether a person discontinues “cold turkey” as opposed to tapering off of their medication.
  • Eye movements: It has been speculated that moving the eyes side to side may provoke or intensify brain zap sensations. While this is purely speculation, there are online accounts of individuals that found things like “looking to the side” can trigger them.
  • Medication side effects: Some individuals have reported experiencing “brain zaps” as side effects from certain medications. These may be experienced when a person initially begins taking a psychotropic medication. It is thought that adjustments in the functioning of various neurotransmitters are responsible for the zaps.
  • Skipping a dose: If you are on a medication and you accidentally miss or intentionally skip a dose, you may notice unpleasant brain zaps. When people experience the zap sensation, they quickly remember that they forgot to take their medication.
  • Other medications: It should be mentioned that medications other than antidepressants can cause brain zaps. While they are most commonly experienced as a result of taking serotonergic antidepressants, benzodiazepines and antipsychotics have also been suggested as potential causes.

How long do brain zaps last?

There is no set “timeline” that says how long brain zaps will last. The zaps people experience are generally subject to individual variation. One person may experience them for a significant duration (e.g. weeks or months), while another may find that they go away in short order (e.g. hours or days). There are a number of factors that can influence how long these “zaps” may persist including: your physiology, duration you took your medication, the dosage, and whether you quit cold turkey or tapered.

It should also be noted that while some individuals experience a bulk of the zaps immediately following discontinuation, some experience the zaps during more protracted phases of withdrawal. In other words, some individuals may have no zaps for weeks, and then experience them seemingly out of nowhere.

Factors that can influence the severity of brain zaps

There are several factors that are thought to influence both the severity and duration of the brain zaps. These factors include things like: individual physiology, level of anxiety, the drug that was taken, how quickly a person discontinued, and whether they are currently taking other medications.

  • Individual physiology: Since not everyone experiences brain zaps, it should be noted that severity of the zaps will vary based on the individual. People with certain genes and/or more resilient nervous systems may not ever experience zaps even when quitting cold turkey. Some individuals will experience the zaps for longer duration than others. Keep in mind that your experience with these zaps may not be the same as someone else in terms of sensation, severity, and duration.
  • Medication: Another huge factor in determining the duration and severity of the zaps is the particular medication that a person was (or is) taking. In most cases, the zaps occur upon discontinuation or skipping a dose of an antidepressant medication. While it is most commonly experienced during SSRI withdrawal, other classes of antidepressants and medications (e.g. benzodiazepines) have been suggested to cause zaps.
    • Cold turkey vs. tapering: If you want to decrease your chances of experiencing severe, persistent brain zaps, make sure you taper off of your medication slowly. The more gradually you taper, the less likely the brain zaps are to occur. If you quit cold turkey, you are significantly increasing your chances of experiencing these jolts.
    • Duration of treatment: How long were you taking your medication? Those who were on a particular drug for a long period of time are more likely to experience the zaps. This is due to the fact that the drug induced more changes in neural functioning and neurotransmission over the long-term than it would have over the short-term. In general, the shorter the duration for which you took your medication, the less likely you are to experience zaps.
    • Half-life: What was the half-life of your drug? Medications with extremely short half-lives are more likely to cause zaps upon discontinuation or missing a dose. A common example of a medication with a short half life is that of Paxil (21 hours). People are much more likely to experience zaps from Paxil than Prozac (with a longer half life of several days).
    • Specific drug: Some would suggest that the particular drug that a person takes will influence the zaps. Certain drug formulations are thought to be of greater potency and affect neurotransmission more than others. The more potent the serotonergic drug, the more likely a person will experience zaps.
  • Other drugs: One factor that not many people consider is that of taking other drugs. Often times people who are taking other medications will not experience brain zaps because the other medication and/or supplement is mitigating the zaps. This is why many people transition to other medications like Prozac or claim that certain supplements help them cope with the zaps. If a person isn’t taking any other drugs or supplements upon discontinuation, the zaps will likely be more severe than those who are still medicated.
  • Level of anxiety: Some have speculated that when a person becomes more anxious, they are more prone to the zaps. This could be due to the fact that anxiety stimulates the central nervous system, and thus could be preventing repairs from occurring after withdrawal. In other cases, people with high anxiety may perceive the brain zaps as being worse than they actually are and/or believe that there is some more significant health problem.

Theories about causes of brain zaps

Brain zaps have long been described by individuals dealing with first-hand experience of antidepressant withdrawal. The zaps feel like jolts of electricity through the head, neck, or other areas of the body such as the spine, arms, and/or legs. In most people, the most common area to experience these zaps is in the head, thus being referred to as “brain” zaps. There are several theories in regards to what may cause them. While certain factors are suggested as causes, the specifics are unknown.

REM Sleep and Serotonin

One hypothesis is floating around the internet that suggests brain zaps are linked to both REM sleep and serotonin. Some people experience brain zaps after waking up from sleep and/or when they fall asleep. A theory is that REM sleep (rapid-eye movement) may influence serotonergic processes in the brain, and the “zaps” are a byproduct of the rapid-eye movement. Whether this has any credibility is debatable. Those who have felt the zaps while sleeping may be able to provide more insight into this experience.

Transitioning out of drug-induced states

Some experts believe that they are a result of the brain suddenly attempting to transition out of the drug-induced neurotransmission to which it had adapted. There are many reports of brain zaps, some of which have been so severe that doctors thought they were experiencing seizures. A couple of British psychiatrists described brain zaps as, “sensory symptoms or symptoms of disequilibrium in brief bursts” when a person moves their head or eyes.

Analogy: Scuba diver surfacing too quickly

They emphasized that this generally occurs during discontinuation from a psychiatric medication. An analogy that has been used to describe why brain zaps occur is a scuba diver who is at the bottom of the ocean, but rises to the surface too fast – resulting in unwanted effects. Other psychiatric authors have suggested that brain zaps are likely influenced by serotonin’s role in sensory functions and muscle movement.

Paresthesia

When a person quits an antidepressant, the person then may experience paresthesia or various sensations as a result of abnormal serotonin levels. These authors describe the fact that major changes to neuronal networks can occur during antidepressant treatment, thus leading to zaps when the brain attempts to function without the drug.

Length of treatment and dosage

Authors have also suggested that both length of treatment and the dosage taken may influence the severity of brain zaps. Additionally, other researchers have hypothesized that in addition to serotonin playing a role in the zaps, norepinephrine may also be a contributing factor – especially for individuals who come off of SNRIs.

Pre-Seizure symptoms?

Researchers have stated that these brain zaps could be similar to pre-seizure symptoms seen in cases of epilepsy. Since there is evidence that the noradrenergic system plays a role in seizure development, it would make sense that norepinephrine could influence brain zaps.

What do brain zaps feel like?

They are relatively difficult to describe because they affect each person differently. For some they are more severe and resemble electrical jolts, while for others they are less severe and easier to cope with. Most would agree that they feel some sort of “electrical” sensation within their head as a result of them. Below is a list of various descriptions of the zaps based on first-hand experiences.

Descriptions:

  • Electrical shocks
  • “Flicking cards” through your head
  • Electrical jolts
  • Light-bulb going off in your head
  • Lightning strikes in the brain
  • “Pop rocks” in the head
  • Pulses of electricity
  • Shivers of the brain
  • Strobe light flashing in the brain

Note: These sensations are often accompanied by sensations of dizziness and/or vertigo. Others may experience symptoms of nausea and/or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

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.

  • Conduct a slower taper: If you quit your medication cold turkey, you may need to start taking it again, and then conduct a slower, more gradual taper off of it. Many zaps are caused when people quit their mediation too quickly and/or from too high of a dose.
  • Go back on medication: Another option that some people pursue is simply going back on their medication. After a person is back on their medication they can then decide to taper more slowly and/or switch to a different medication.
  • Take Prozac (longer half-life): A strategy for minimizing brain zaps and general antidepressant withdrawal symptoms is to transition to a drug with a longer half-life. Often an experienced psychiatrist will recommend transitioning to Prozac and eventually withdrawing from the Prozac, which should reduce the chances of the zaps.
  • Supplements: Many people swear by taking various supplements to reduce the severity of brain zaps. Whether these supplements actually work to alleviate the zaps is unverified. Many individuals have said that supplementation of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids improve these zaps to a significant extent. Some have suggested that they completely cure the zapping.
    • Omega-3 fatty acids: Many people claim that the best way to deal with brain zaps is to take omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil supplements. It is unknown why the fish oil helps, but many have testified that it works wonders. While most user accounts suggest taking “fish oil” some would speculate that “krill oil” would provide similar results.
    • Vitamin B12: Some have suggested that getting proper vitamins helps significantly to minimize the zaps. In particular, many people have recommended taking Vitamin B12 supplements and have found them especially helpful. The combination of the B12 with fish oil is able to decrease the severity and frequency of zaps in some people.
  • Time heals all: Understand that although the zaps may be somewhat painful, frustrating, and annoying, they will eventually subside. Even if it seems like they are a permanent neurological problem, rest assured they are not. Eventually your brain will figure out how to repair itself and as your neurotransmission restores itself, you will no longer feel the zaps. For some people the zaps may last days, for others weeks, and for others even longer, but they will subside in time.

Are brain zaps considered dangerous?

If there’s one thing to know about these brain zaps, it should be that they are not considered dangerous. There is no scientific evidence supporting any claims that these jolt-like sensations cause any brain damage or interfere with the health of neurons. Although they may be highly-uncomfortable to experience, at least you don’t have to worry about them killing brain cells.

Have you experienced brain zaps?

Many people have experience brain zaps upon discontinuation from an antidepressant medication. I personally remember quitting Paxil CR and wondering why it felt like my brain was being tortured in an electrocution chamber. For most people, the brain zaps suck, but will eventually subside. If you have a personal experience with “brain zaps” feel free to share it in the comments section below. Also feel free to mention any supplements and/or strategies that have helped you cope with the zaps.

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{ 603 comments… add one }
  • Anghared December 13, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Such an immediate relief in finding this site. It has allowed me to feel that I will win this withdrawal battle from Citalopram with the amazing support shown here, and of course most importantly direct experience of these real feelings. -Anghared

    • thekla April 9, 2015, 7:41 pm

      I’m glad I found this too. It does feel like a “battle” coming off of Citalopram. These brain zaps are awful. I cannot wait until they finally end.

      • Madi September 7, 2016, 5:00 pm

        YES! I’ve been on this medicine so long because I can’t bare the brain zaps and ill feeling. Please let me know how it went for you.

        • Jason Peter Young November 11, 2016, 2:18 pm

          Well, I was really concerned an hour or so ago, but after reading 100’s of comments and having a good laugh at how we all describe and feel these things, I am so relieved to know I am normal! :-D

          My story is:
          – started venlafaxine in late 2008 (aka Efexor/Effexor XR)
          – finally reached 150mg in early 2016
          – suffered a case of OCPD going out of control in October 2016
          – convinced the counsellor that I had become venlafaxine-resistant
          – counsellor suggested increasing venlafaxine, and I refused a higher dose for fear of more numbness and lack of enthusiasm in everything I do in life
          – counsellor suggested fluoxetine
          – GP suggests 75mg venlafaxine for a week, then fluoxetine 20mg
          – asked about side effects of changing from an SNRI to a SSRI, and was told not too worry (typical!), but immediately front up to a hospital or the GP if anything unusual is felt
          – in first week of half-dose venlafaxine, experienced usual withdrawal symptoms like as if I had missed my daily dose: headaches, tight face, etc.
          – then fluoxetine comes along, and WHAM!

          What a rollercoaster this past three days has been! The worst case of vertigo, nausea, dehydration, excessive urination, uncertainty about drinking water, ambivalent feelings about food, weakness, compressed feeling around the brain cavity, pins and needles, heart flutters/palpitations, laboured breath, those violent horrible movie-length nightmares, anxiety/panicky moments AND THE REASON WE ARE ALL ON HERE: “popping soap bubbles” in my brain!!

          That latter feeling is the most weird experience I have felt in my head. I thought I was having a goddamn ‘fit’ each time, albeit very minor. It is accompanied by those compressed brain feelings, tremor-like feelings in the face and arms/hands, eye-flicking and metallic taste. If I have these for the rest of my life, then it’s gonna’ be a wild ride!

          Well, it seems the following pointers may be worthwhile heeding:
          – no caffeine
          – no wine
          – lots of fish
          – lots of B12
          – find a way to get off SSRIs and SNRIs forever, without OCPD, anger and social anxiety driving me nuts (probably with intensive psychotherapy again)

          I am interested in what new readers have to say about this after reading a selection of the 900 other comments in this article.

          • Youngwidow95 November 24, 2016, 11:40 pm

            Experienced these symptoms for years and was on no medication at all. They would take place during horrific nightmares. Don’t know what happened. Eventually they stopped. Have had only 3 or 4 experiences in the last 15 years. Prior to this they would occur regularly. I was afraid to go to sleep at night. And I was not being medicated with anything. Don’t know why these occurred.

    • Michelle April 29, 2015, 4:20 am

      I just stopped taking Celexa. I was on a 10mg dosage for a year and I’m getting brain zaps. Hopefully they subside soon.

    • Dave Thomas April 29, 2015, 10:27 pm

      So pleased I found this thread, I thought I was,going mad and didn’t even know what to call my brain zaps. Just hoping they’ll go fairly quickly, been a week now. -Dave

      • Lauren May 5, 2015, 10:32 pm

        I took Celexa for around 7 years then my doctor switched it to another anti-depressant. Every anti-depressant I’ve taken and gone off of has caused brain zaps for me. Be patient, they do go away. I also found if I had to take a medication that had anything to do with altering my anti-depressant like some anti-biotics, blood pressure pills, etc. I would start getting the odd brain zap. But after stopping the meds it all went away.

        • Edie November 4, 2015, 1:44 pm

          No Lauren. The zaps do not go away for everyone. I have been off Celexa for over 16 years. And as I age, the stronger they get when I have them. Like today. VERY BAD and VERY STRONG. I did not want to go on an antidepressant and my Dr. did not tell me it was an antidepressant. He’s gone on nicely with his life while I suffer side effects from a drug I NEVER should have been on in the FIRST place.

          I’m glad for you that it ended. But it has not for me. I think these Dr’s should warn people of this seemingly common issue and… NOT be allowed to TRICK people onto them. I also think the drug company should be held accountable for such pain. Glad you are doing well.

          • Amy December 9, 2015, 3:58 pm

            Edie, I completely agree with you. I’ve been trying so hard to come off of Cymbalta (I guess, I went off the Paxil fine and I do take Tramadol but have ran out) and it is always the same for me, I can’t take it and go back on the meds. It feels like a battle I will never win. The longer I go without the medicine the stronger they get. I’ve been off for up to a month now. I am so afraid I will be like you and still be waiting for the side effects to subside 15-20 years later.

            I was put on it for pain, I had a bilateral mastectomy, and I was not informed about it being an antidepressant nor the side effects or withdrawal effects coming off of it. You put it down very clearly, these doctors are going on with their lives as they normally would while we suffer. Sometimes I just wish I were dead.

          • Jill December 17, 2015, 1:52 am

            Oh man it’s torture. I’m withdrawing from a high dose effexor and I want to curl up and die. I was taking the effexor for nerve pain (8 months). It helped somewhat. But I just can’t afford the medications for my medical problems anymore. So with 5 kids and Christmas here I had to choose presents over meds. For 3 days now even when I blink I’m feeling the massive electric jolt shoot through my brain causing me to be dizzy and nauseated.

            It shoots through my whole body. It has completely screwed with my personality. I’m aggressive angry, bitter, sad, uncontrollable laughter and crying, all mixed with shocks every few minutes. I hate it! I can’t get in to see my doctor, and I don’t know what else to do. Does anything lessen to pain? It’s bad enough one side of my body is numb from nerve damage. I just want to be a good mum.

          • Eva March 2, 2016, 8:29 pm

            I agree with you. I got the brain zap when I went on remeron about 4 months ago. They are very painful and I’m getting it all the time. I’m trying to come off remeron now and getting even more brain zaps. My GP looked at me when I told him like I’m not even speak English. Taking Omega 3 and Mg, for months now but nothing really helps. Is feel like my brain on a fire. I was never depressed when they put me on this med, I got it for my nausea and stomach problems. Anybody has some suggestion?

          • Someone April 2, 2016, 1:10 pm

            I agree, Edie, the brain zaps don’t go away for everyone. I, too, have had them for 16 years. And I, too, was not told I was being put on an antidepressant, and was told it was a “safe … med.” I dealt with very bad and unethical doctors. But since I had to research medicine myself, I also know all the doctors are being fed a lot of misinformation due to fraudulent pharmaceutical industry research.

            Their medical journals are now filled with ghost written articles and publication bias. Pub Med didn’t even acknowledge that brain zaps were a symptom of antidepressant withdrawal until 2004. I do hope some day to find a cure, so I keep checking “Dr. Google,” who right now seems to have a lot more accurate medical information, than the mainstream medical community.

          • Robin April 13, 2016, 2:29 am

            I wasn’t even on a very high dose of Effexor… Slowly stopped taking it and it’s been over a week of the brain zaps and full body zaps. I was also put on it for pain and now I’m feeling so emotional and out of sorts. I really hope it ends as the pills did nothing for me and I don’t want to take them just because I have to for the symptoms…

          • Seana Yates May 4, 2016, 4:34 pm

            Reading everyone’s replies it makes me so sad. Please try 5-htp and/or St. John’s wort. These both help to increase levels of serotonin, therefore relieving the brain zaps. Eat more protein and fat, too. Not fat like that’s in cheetos, but fat from butter or nuts or avocado or cheese. Your brain is made of fat. I hope this helps at least 1 person.

          • Judy May 4, 2016, 7:42 pm

            I took Paxil for 6 years. I very slowly and carefully weaned myself off which took 18 months. That was 5 years ago and I continue to experience brain zaps. I believe this situation is being swept under the rug. I also believe that there is a possibility that these drugs are causing brain damage. This is extremely upsetting and needs to be explored.

          • Michelle June 21, 2016, 10:36 pm

            I’ve been off of Citalopram for years now and I’m still getting brain zaps. I don’t know if they will ever go away. They come and go, sometimes they wont come for 6 months or longer but today I am having them accompanied by dizziness. Never trust the drug companies.

          • wally June 22, 2016, 1:48 pm

            I have been going through this for 4 years now. 35 years old and been on anti-depressants since I was 16. Numerous times I have tried to quite the meds and cannot due to these Brain Zaps. 4 years ago I hit the bottom and did a bad overdose on a few different bottles of meds. After waking up hospitalized I spent a few days not knowing anything or even myself.

            When released I stopped taking the meds I was taking thinking I can do fine without it. For 3 years I fought every day with a withdrawal in my eyes and brain that was so intense at times I would freeze solid till the zaps stopped. Over the past year I gave in and have been taking Prozac every 2-3 days so I don’t feel the withdrawal. Seems though as Edie stated in his post that as we get older it gets worse for some of us.

            At nights as I try to go to sleep I fight between the sensation and REM. It’s a living nightmare having to live with this. I hope they find a cure for this illness, I don’t want to keep taking Prozac or any other meds.

          • "Mart" Martin July 12, 2016, 8:57 pm

            Hello all, I had been on Paxil 40 mg. until June-21-2016. Following open heart surgery in 2001, anxiety ensued. (I’m told this is common). My cardiologist put me on Paxil 20 mg. About 2012 my GP added 20mg, to help treat depression. I’m 65. Then I discovered Lithium recently. (Research it yourself especially the “El Paso” studies.

            Looking for a more natural anti-depressant with less side effects, I started a 10% taper to get off Paxil. One week before the taper I started taking Lithium apartate 5mg am and pm. I have experienced no depression and I have been Paxil free for one week now. I do have brain-zaps, however, and hope they will diminish over time. I feel the Lithium has protected my brain from too many withdrawal symptoms.

            It pains me that our drug companies and medical establishment choose profits over caring for us. Lithium is a natural element and is very affordable (no damn patents) and some professionals feel that it should be in our public water supplies just like other chemicals as a prophylactic. I may be over-simplistic, but I feel that many people could find relief with this simple remedy. Thanks.

          • Walter Manning August 21, 2016, 5:05 pm

            This is in response to Jill asking if there is anything to lessen the pain. I stopped taking Duloxetine HCL DR 60 mg a week ago and am experiencing brain zaps. I take 1 Aleve every 12 hours and 2 Saint John’s wort in the morning and one in the evening. Although I still have brain zaps they have been reducing in frequency and severity every day.

      • Walter October 14, 2016, 2:03 am

        So glad to have read your comment, Lauren. For two days now, the sleeplessness, agitation and zaps in my head have gotten progressively worse to the point where today I broke down and cried at my work station and barely made it home this evening. I am currently on Duloxetine after trying numerous other drugs over the last 4 years, after caring for my mother with Alzheimer’s (and passed away).

        Last week I came down with a sinus infection, for which my doctor prescribed antibiotics. I am on day 4 of a 5 dose and, as already implied, overwhelmed With the “zapping” and dizziness to the point of breaking down. I hope these almost unbearable sensations will go away after I finish with the antibiotics tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope to be able to get off antidepressants someday.

      • Kat November 14, 2016, 4:32 am

        I googled ‘brain-skips’… and was shocked at how fast this article populated. I’m glad to know I’m not alone, but it scares me that these drugs which are helpful when you are on them (for the most part) are so very harsh on your system coming off of them. It makes me mistrust these meds again.

    • Eve June 4, 2015, 6:51 am

      I’ve tried to quit fluvoxamine several times, and I’ve gotten brain zaps each time. Quitting cold turkey is simply torture for me. So over the past few months I’ve been tapering off my medication by decreasing the size of my pill little by little, using scissors to snip off small pieces. I finally got down to about a quarter of a 50 mg pill twice per day. I think I decreased a little too quickly during the last few weeks, and I started to get brain buzz again–I’ve been getting shocks in my head and sometimes in my arms.

      But up until these past few weeks, I’ve been relieved not to have experienced brain buzz at all. I’m going to up my dose a little to get rid of the buzz and try again. I bought empty pill capsules so I can take smaller amounts–getting the powdery part on your tongue is pretty unpleasant, so putting the pieces in capsules helps. I’m kind of resigned to the fact that no matter how slowly I taper, I may eventually have to suffer a couple days or weeks of brain buzz to get off the medication.

    • Ashley July 7, 2015, 9:26 am

      I’m so glad I found this site. I’ve experienced brain zaps while withdrawaling from both Lyrica & Duloxetine. I tapered slowly off both & at different times. I’m glad to know that they are not dangerous. Really annoying though, especially with nausea and dizziness.

      • Nancy February 9, 2016, 1:49 am

        I get an annoying swishing sound in my ears when I forget a dosage of Cymbalta. In the past I took myself off of Cymbalta but did not get brain zaps. Only a constant swishing in my ears for about 2 weeks.

        • Laura March 27, 2016, 9:46 pm

          I spent over an hour coming up with the right collection of words to find site addressing my symptoms. For me, I call it “the rice bag effect”; it’s more aural with a little bit of physical manifestations. I’ve stopped Tramadol and Pristiq recently and am waiting to start Rexulti — maybe — when my symptoms die down. Now that I know more about what’s going on, I’m calling my neurologist’s office first thing tomorrow. Does anyone know: Does triggering symptoms with rapid eye shifts help/inure in any way?

        • Duane April 1, 2016, 5:12 pm

          Hi Nancy I get the ‘swishing’ sound in my ears as well as the brain zaps. But at least now having found this site I know I am not crazy!!

          • Amanda May 28, 2016, 7:40 am

            I get the swishing along with the zaps. I’ve been scouring the Internet trying to find something about this because no one understands! Not even doctors. I’ve experienced these off and on for over 15 yrs and am just now figuring out what’s causing them! As of right now I’m weaning from Paxil to Wellbutrin and they are the worst I’ve ever felt them.

            I can’t concentrate. I can’t see straight most of the time. I’m sure some of it is a mixture of Paxil withdrawals in itself mixed with the brain zaps. But I am miserable to say the least. If these don’t stop I’ll just go back on the Paxil but I wanted to switch for a number of reasons. But honestly this is just truly MADDENING!

            I want to scream and cry. I want them to stop so bad. I read some people on here saying they have had them for 16 yrs! I don’t think I can even handle another week! It’s been about 2 now already. It’s to the point where I don’t even remember what it feels like to have a clear head.

    • Janet. Slack August 12, 2015, 9:26 am

      I too feel relieved. I have taken citalopram for 20 years and find these zaps disturbing. I was beginning to think something was seriously wrong. I am slowly reducing my dosage and intend to stop this time. This is of course under my GP’s supervision. Nice to know it’s common and considered harmless.

    • Joe doe October 20, 2015, 3:57 am

      I’ve been experiencing them often lately. I take a low dose of Zoloft. I’d describe the zaps as somewhat milliseconds of euphoria. Pleasure zaps. But super weird at the same time. I’m a stress case so who know what causes them…

      • gordon October 22, 2015, 8:52 am

        I have these zaps too. I agree. The small zaps are similar to the nerve feelings you get when you orgasm. Only these zaps are more irritating.

        • Tiff September 19, 2016, 5:57 pm

          The brain zaps feel “good” to me too. I stopped zoloft cold turkey when I became pregnant 4 years ago. The zaps stopped after about three weeks. I’m on Effexor now and when I get zaps I know immediately that I have forgotten my dose. They are pretty quick, and I just close my eyes and “roll” with it. I don’t fight the feeling… take a deep breath and by the time I exhale they are over. I’ve heard lots of water helps.

      • tsopmocful March 17, 2016, 6:31 am

        I have taken 15mg of Sertraline every day for just over a year, and I decided to go off it cold turkey a week ago. I am getting a lot of brain zaps even as I type this, and I can cause it at will by moving my head or eyes. I also experience tinnitus and occasional dizzy sensations.

        I had exactly the same experiences when I started taking them, and have been taking a low dose blood pressure med all throughout as well. I actually enjoy the sensation a bit, but I think a lot of that enjoyment comes from knowing the cause, knowing it’s harmless, and recognizing it as a sign of healing. I am also lucky enough to be able to structure my own time, and so have engineered a low stress and simplified lifestyle, while engaging with profitable activities I love, so that may prevent the sensations from being annoying, interrupting, or representative of how others feel.

        However, the brain zaps could be a hundred times stronger, and I would still prefer them a LOT more than how my brain felt before taking Sertraline at all.

        • Julie May 27, 2016, 7:23 pm

          I have just finished weening off of sertraline. I took my last 50mg dose some 2weeks ago. I was given the med by my GP following an accident which caused me to experience PTSD. I was given 50mg once daily for 3 months. this week I have been experiencing brain zaps and dizziness…

          I am also experiencing some forgetfulness and tingling in my fingers. I had an appointment with my GP today who has recommended another medication, scan and blood test no mention of this being medication related. I came home and googled head shocks and found all this information about brain zaps and the link with medication.

          I can honestly say I am so pleased to find this thread as I though I either had something awful or I was going mad. I am now having second thoughts about taking they amitriptyline prescribed today?

    • Kelsey R April 8, 2016, 8:44 pm

      I am on Citalopram and have been for a few years now and recently started experiencing these daily. I used to only get them when I forgot to take a pill but I haven’t forgotten any lately and keep getting them every day. Anyone else experience this?

      • Maggie September 1, 2016, 8:56 pm

        Kelsey, I was on Zoloft for panic attacks for 17 years then I started feeling the zaps while still on them. My dr said that the drug was not working anymore so he changed me To Paxil and have been on it for about 8 months and am still feeling them. I don’t think these drugs are working on my system.

        I think my body is too used to them and I can’t increase dosage anymore. The Brain zaps might mean your drug isn’t working any more or you might have to increase dosage. I also am looking into eating better and weaning myself off of Paxil and following diet for adrenal fatigue. Hope this helps. Thank God for the Internet so we can research for ourselves.

    • reba June 13, 2016, 7:49 pm

      Like you I was looking for answers. Just into my 3rd day off of effexor that I was taking for migraines. I thought I was going crazy with yet one more weird thing going on and seeing someone else describe my symptoms exactly was very comforting. I know I will get through this with God’s help and love but seeing that I’m not imagining things is wonderful. Sure was not looking forward to telling hubby of yet one more thing being off. God bless.

      • Lucille October 20, 2016, 3:34 am

        Effexor is the hardest one to get through. I have several friends and, because it causes many intolerable side effects, we all hate our doctors for not bothering to disclose the misery in getting off that drug. God bless.

    • Brent June 27, 2016, 8:11 am

      I would like to second the omega 3’s as a complete cure to brain zaps in those going cold turkey off of medication. I used them going off tramadol and they completely eliminated the brain zaps that I otherwise would have had. I used ultimate omega 3 by Nordic Naturals I think.

    • Leanna September 14, 2016, 11:34 pm

      Thank God I have been withdrawing from citalopram after 5 years and it’s horrible. I feel so sick and dizzy I don’t want to even try to function. Thank God this will go away.

    • Cedric October 26, 2016, 3:49 am

      I last took Citalopram 10 years ago, I still get the zaps.

    • Alexandra November 5, 2016, 3:31 pm

      Funny, I found this site researching electric shocks also due to missing my Citalopram. It looks like Celexa and Citalopram are the hardest to come off.

  • Faye Mulligan December 16, 2014, 8:23 pm

    I need help. I have been depressed since age 15; I am now 70. I have not ever been able to take anti-depressants until Forest Labs came out with Celexa and Lexapro. Now, they make my heart beat fast and I have had to cut down on dosage. Now I am having brain zaps that are driving me crazy. Help! What can I do?

    • Karen March 15, 2015, 5:15 am

      Oh dear, I’m so sorry you’re suffering. I’m having brain zaps and not even tapering off zoloft. I believe a lot of it is anxiety, as they happen when I get stressed out. Maybe you could try another med, or something natural with GABA. Also, Bliss anti-stress formula, or a good supplement with valerian or Passionflower may help to keep the anxiety down, and less zaps. It’s helping me. This site also suggested Prozac to taper off the zap causing SSRIs. Good luck to us all.

    • Neurodoc March 16, 2015, 5:20 am

      What helped me the most was to get with your significant other and go someplace different than your usual residence or hang outs. E.g., San Fransisco, Miami, Paris, etc. engage your brain in a stress that has a pleasant outcome. It will help by stimulating your problem solving brain, switching the emphasis from internal to external thoughts. In addition, engaging in a vibrant environment with lots of people invigorates the mind. Basically, you break the monotony and force the brain and by extension, you, to pay less attention to those neural pathways, reducing electrical activity there and the resulting sensations.

  • Rachel December 27, 2014, 5:20 am

    I have just started having these “brain zaps.” It started about 2 months ago, and was mild. I would get maybe 1 a week. It was just like a mild buzzing sensation in my head for maybe 5 seconds. Tonight, I had another, but it was worse. I really thought I was going to pass out. It was very scary.

    I’m looking for any advice or answers. Everything on the internet has to do with medication withdrawal. I am not on ANY of these medications mentioned, and never have been. I take melatonin or 5-HTP to help me sleep on the weekends. Claritin and cold meds when needed. Looking for anyone else experiencing this as a result of melatonin or sleep-aid use? Thanks!

    • gina December 31, 2014, 9:30 pm

      I too am having your problems and I have no idea what to do. I have been to many doctors and nothing is helping. I don’t want to give up and admit this may be the new me, but I don’t know what else to do. Have you heard back with any ideas? I do sympathize with you and I guess we are not alone.

    • Sarafi March 11, 2015, 3:07 am

      I have been taking melatonin nightly for years, on a few occasions as much as fifty mg. in a day, and never had brain zaps due to them. I have (and currently do have) them from antidepressants and benzo discontinuation. The best remedy I have found is valerian root. It is a miracle herb, no less than natural xanax, without a drugged feeling. It is a wonderful sleep aid when taken before bed (a higher dose than during the day). But also works to calm me during the day.

      It does not eliminate the zaps, but makes them tolerable because I am relaxed. I take it with melatonin and benadryl to sleep because without it, regardless of exhaustion I can not sleep. My brain is on constant alert and the only option is to calm it. Of course, sometimes even that is not enough so I also have to take ambien about ten to fifteen days a month, that has never caused the zaps either even when I take the herbal medications as well. Every full moon however, strange as it sounds, there is no sleep for me, regardless of what I take.

      During the three days every month that it is literally impossible for me to sleep, I get the zaps. They usually begin about thirty six hours after the last time I slept, and last until I am finally able to sleep. After a minimum of six hours of rest, they are gone when I awake. Perhaps yours could be caused by periods in your life when you sleep less or lighter than usual, as you do not take antidepressants or benzos? Hope you gain some insight, good luck.

    • kat March 30, 2015, 7:06 pm

      I, too, have been having these “brain zaps” for the last 2 years or so… medication is NOT a factor. They used to occur only while I was falling asleep at night (sometimes incredibly loud in my head), then they increased to when I wake in the morning, many “zaps” in a row, one right after the other, now I experience them all day long. It feels as if my brain “shuts off” for a brief second and then “powers back up”. It is extremely bothersome and pretty exhausting. I have seen a neurologist who looked at me like I was speaking in “tongues” and said she had never heard of such a thing. I am still researching, but am glad I found your post, saying that medications were not involved.

      • Matheus April 17, 2015, 8:34 pm

        The same too me and still alive. :) Don’t know if its the case, but I began to freshen the air in my room before sleep. Never done this before, maybe will help.

      • Janet. Slack August 12, 2015, 9:29 am

        I’ve always described it as if my brain is blinking. I know exactly what you mean by “powering off”.

        • maria January 16, 2016, 2:10 am

          OMG that is exactly how I feel like my brain is blinking. It is so hard to explain. I really thought I had something wrong with me I was thinking maybe I should go get a brain scan. Thank you Janet and thank you for this website. :)

          • Robin April 13, 2016, 2:35 am

            Check out absence seizures… Maybe you are having these. Epilepsy runs in my fam.

          • Maggie September 1, 2016, 9:32 pm

            Sometimes I feel like I’m being “unplugged” or a quick loss of blood pressure. The zaps feel like a low voltage brain zap.

        • Julie Velasquez March 23, 2016, 3:57 pm

          To me they almost feel as if I am watching an old horror movie in black and white and there is a static movement on the screen. It’s like all my thoughts go black and white for a few seconds and kind of shake a bit. It usually causes my whole body to twitch as well. I recently started lyrica for possible multiple sclerosis symptoms and neuralgia, etc. The lyrica has helped the pain but made the “zaps” or “static” as I call it more common.

        • Karli April 26, 2016, 12:37 am

          Finally someone describes the sensation the same way as me! I always say “my brain is blinking” and I’ve never found another say the same. I’m so happy I’m not alone!

          • Lindsay June 30, 2016, 4:01 am

            Yes! I was just trying to explain this sensation to my partner. Blinking is the only way I could think of describing it. I quit taking a very low dose of lexapro last week after a year on the meds. For the last few days I have been experiencing lightheadedness, a slight ringing in my ears, and this brain blinking sensation. This article was a relief. I was blaming the lightheadness and ringing on allergies/sinus issues, but the blinking was harder to explain away.

      • Kelle January 20, 2016, 1:37 am

        I’ve never heard it described so perfectly!!! Have you gotten any answers? Do you happen to have thyroid problems? Or any other health issues? Vitamin deficiencies?

        • KM December 3, 2016, 11:47 am

          I was wondering about links to thyroid problems too! I started taking levothyroxine a couple months ago and that stopped my brain zaps until now. I’ve been feeling like I need my dosage upped for the last couple weeks, but my doctor won’t until 3 months into treatment.

      • Yvonne April 1, 2016, 2:48 am

        I have exactly the same, I feel like someone had unplugged me! I hear the zap and it’s always at the front of my head and my eyes seem to shoot upward.

    • Pamela May 14, 2015, 3:02 pm

      I, too, have been experiencing this weird sensation and do not take any medications other than over the counter allergy and pain meds (acetaminophen and ibuprofen). I am not anxious or depressed and these sensations have me a little worried. I have been a smoker nearly all my life and am going through menopause and didn’t know if these sensations were linked to either or both of these factors or if the 2 herniated and bulging discs in my cervical spine may be what is causing it as the sensations are not only in my brain, but travel down both arms and into my hands.

      Because of my age and the fact that I have smoked for so many years, I was afraid that these symptoms were possibly a precursor to a stroke, but I haven’t been experiencing any other stroke symptoms; it’s really hard to tell, however, considering the tingling and numbness in my hands caused by my herniated discs. It appears obvious to me that these sensations aren’t generated solely from the discontinuation of antidepressants or other psychological drug types.

      Is it possible that women experiencing menopause may also experience these sensations as their serotonin levels are affected by high levels of cortisol due to low estrogen levels, or that these sensations may be triggered in women possibly at the end of the menopause phase when their bodies are returning to a state of normalcy, similar to that of person who is returning to a state of normalcy after discontinuing a drug? Sounds logical to me, but I am no expert on the issue. Please advise.

      • Bonnie August 23, 2015, 11:36 pm

        I have had brain zaps on occasion since at least a teenager. I wasn’t taking any medication at that time. They have been one or two zaps of varying lengths when it occurs. I always wondered what they were and figured it was my brain releasing excessive electrical energy.

      • Julie February 11, 2016, 3:33 pm

        My brain zaps started with peri-menopause and are not related to medications. They sometimes go away for a month or two and then come rushing back after every viral cold/flu or stress. Mine are accompanied by scalp tingling and dizziness. This has been going on for 6 years now.

      • Tina August 12, 2016, 5:19 pm

        My situation is similar to yours in that I started getting the brain zaps even though I wasn’t on medication. Did you ever get any answers or find anything that helps with the symptoms?

      • Bahiah September 12, 2016, 2:06 pm

        Me too… I had a spine problem but not sure which one. My spine doctor assumed of me by having cervical pid but not confirm yet. I’m waiting for my MRI result. By the way, I also feel the electrical shock sensation all over my body. I feel dizzy and I want to faint while walking. On top of that, while I was relaxing I can’t control my movements accompanied with the electric shock sensation. Not only that, I feel hard to breathe when I feel this sensation.

    • Daphne September 4, 2015, 9:27 am

      Hi Rachel…was so glad to finally find someone who has these “brain zaps” that is not coming off any medication. I have been having brain zaps for about ten years….just periodically. Only at night. Only in my own bed, never on couch or while staying in hotels or at families houses. Just had one and decided to check it out here. I too take melatonin occasionally, but these started years before. Glad to read that I am not killing brain cells though. My doctor had no explanation. I was seen by a neurologist and he couldn’t explain them either. I do feel better having read your post. Thanks.

      • Barbara September 15, 2015, 6:18 am

        Nice to read that there are others out there like me who have had these wonderful zaps for no reason at all. I’ve had mine for years, usually in the morning when waking up. Also get the more powerful zinger through the back of eyeballs which makes them seem to vibrate back and forth. Also the fun full force POW! which sounds like a gun shot. Will have to try the fish oil and/or the B12 mentioned in the article. We are not alone in this mess. As with others, I mentioned my zaps to various drs only to have them look at me like I was nuts (I know that!). But I don’t enjoy them and wish they would go away.

        • Cath September 21, 2015, 8:24 pm

          I am currently tapering off my zoloft and I dropped my dose too low too quickly so that’s why I’m getting the zaps. But, I expected them since this happened to me 3 years ago when I quit effexor cold turkey. The zaps lasted about 3 months when I went cold turkey. Unpleasant, along with all the things people are mentioning in these posts. The zaps bothered me last time, but eventually they go away. Just be patient. It’s just very annoying when trying to focus on work!

          • Carlie December 21, 2015, 10:37 pm

            I was on Zoloft a few years ago and while going off of it slowly I had the brain zaps. Then I was put on lexapro 2 years ago because of a horrible tragedy I suffered. About 6 weeks ago I was switched from the lexapro to Effexor to help with severe hot flashes and last week the brain zaps started. Today it has been really bad.

            I am wondering if it is from going off the Lexapro or from being on the Effexor. They have increased the Effexor twice now since it doesn’t seem to be helping the hot flashes. So I am wondering if it is too high of a dose or if it is the Lexapro leaving my system. Anyone have a idea?

          • rae April 8, 2016, 12:32 am

            I am tapering off Effexor and have flu-like symptoms and brain zaps! Dr started me on at 75mg, extended release capsule, once per day. Was on that dose for 9 months. Decided to taper off. Went down to 37.5 mg for 2 months. Then cut that pill in half to 18.75 mg for a month. Thought that was correct weaning, so stopped two days ago.

            Yesterday and today I have experienced the dreaded brain zaps! Called my hospital’s pharmacist. She told me brain zaps are common but could lead to seizure and instructed me to call my Dr immediately. Pharmacist explained that the Dr may put me on the 25mg tablet for 1 week, cut that in half to 12.5 mg for 1 week and then half of that for another week.

            Thank you for your post! It was very helpful and comforting to know this is common.

          • Casper September 17, 2016, 10:41 pm

            Hi Carlie, I had serious brain zaps coming off of Lexapro, so my bet is it’s the Lexapro that is causing yours based on my experience.

        • christine October 21, 2015, 2:58 am

          As above I have been having these zaps for years…they did go away when my arm was badly smashed in an accident. I figured it was my body compensating for the rapir of my arm. Of course when rehab had finished on my arm the zaps returned. MRI, CAT scans negative…except for small plagues due to aging. I am not on any medications that cause this, but I have it day and night 24/7…panadol every 4-5 hours which I am not happy with, but only thing that relieves them. Eyes all good go for regular tests. Am bewildered as to why this is happening, and the pain it causes.

      • John June 13, 2016, 1:01 am

        Most people seem to experience this symptom after taking medication. I experienced this prior to taking medication. I was prescribed Paxil for sleep problems AND THAT STOPPED THE BRAIN ZAPS. I have been on Paxil for 15 years now and if I miss a couple of days, they return even worse than they were before, so, while this does stop them. I don’t recommend it under any circumstances.

        • Tina August 12, 2016, 5:24 pm

          Hi John, I started having the brain zaps prior to taking medications as well. After a full workup, no one has an answer. I too was prescribed medications, and they stopped the brain zaps, but not entirely. For some reason, SSRIs, SNRIs, etc., didn’t work for me. I’m currently taking Modafinil (actually, armodafinil now) and Clonazepam. These help, but it’s no cure. Did you ever get any answers?

    • Caligirl November 17, 2015, 6:36 pm

      I do not have brain zaps but I am experiencing hypnic jerks that I believe may be caused by the same thing as the zaps. I started getting hypnic jerks after taking 5-HTP, so the 5-HTP may be causing the zaps for you.

      • haigen February 17, 2016, 9:52 am

        I’ve recently cut myself off of my Klonpin for my anxiety. I was taking it for about 9 months, tapered down somewhat. I was experiencing these weird body jolts repetitively that you’re talking about right before I would fall asleep. I thought they were a form of a panic attack, but after reading some stuff tonight, I realized it’s a “brain zap.”

        They happen on and off, depending if my girlfriend is here to keep me comfortable. Tonight I experienced my first actual brain zap, and it hit with a loud, disturbing buzz/zap sound. Also, I saw a flash behind my eye lids. It woke me and caused me to have a panic attack (though most things do now that I’m off medicine).

        My best advice for you is to do something very synthetic or relaxing before sleeping. It’s always helped me with the body jolts. In other news that I think you’ll find relieving, they get easier and go away soon. Good luck to anyone experiencing this! I’m hoping for the best myself.

    • Gloria January 25, 2016, 12:55 pm

      I too have occasional spells of brain zaps, actually I’m having them this morning. I take low dose generic Zoloft each night before bedtime. I never miss a dose, yet very occasionally I will wake up with them. I thought I was getting ready to have a stroke. I take fish oil capsules every day. They are uncomfortable and occur with any sudden movement of my head. Thankfully they do subside usually within a day.

    • KplP February 5, 2016, 4:06 pm

      I only started getting these zaps when I started taking 5-HTP. I took it once and a week later the zaps are getting milder. Keep melatonin and ditch the 5-HTP which triggers serotonin.

      • Seana May 4, 2016, 4:39 pm

        5-HTP and melotonin are pretty close to the same thing. 5-HTP is an amino acid precursor. It is basically tryptophan packaged in a way that your body would naturally package it for you. So it’s doing half the work and then your body picks up from there, combines it with some other stuff and makes serotonin out of it. When serotonin isn’t used, it turns into melatonin. At least that’s what I’ve read.

    • Liz Wilson August 5, 2016, 7:06 pm

      I see it has been awhile since you posted this, but I also do not take any of the medications described but was taking 3mg melatonin nightly to sleep and quit because they were making me depressed and nauseous and now also am having these brain zaps. Good to know I’m not alone!

    • Maria September 27, 2016, 9:06 pm

      My brain zaps started in 2014. I was not in any medication. The only big situation was a total histerectomy a year before. My doctor had no idea why they happen so in 2015 he gave me prozac. I still have the zaps. Is like electricity running in the back of my head sending tingling sensation through all my body. Recently went to a neurologist who sent me to a specialist in epilepsy. I want my health back. Going to try omega 3…

    • Lucille October 20, 2016, 3:35 am

      5-htp is a precursor to serotonin.

  • gina December 31, 2014, 9:28 pm

    I have had brain zaps non stop now for years and it has nothing to do with medication. I have been to many doctors I don’t know who else to go to. Any suggestions are welcomed. Please help me someone.

    • Brandon September 4, 2015, 11:20 am

      Gina-Hang in there. As you can probably tell, there’s a a lot of support on this site and people to share similar experiences. The thing I’ve learned here is that these zaps come about for several different reasons. Just hang in there!

    • Brent December 30, 2015, 1:41 pm

      I had brain zaps so bad I thought I was going to die from it and it had absolutely nothing to do with medication. I had surgery on my left leg and had metal rods put in after a motorcycle accident. My system was trying to reject the rods and couldn’t. Therefore, my whole body was getting infection through it making me very sick.

      It got so bad I could hear and feel the zaps in my ears. When I finally took myself to the hospital, they said the infection was cooking my brain and had I not come in I would’ve died. Don’t just take the doctor’s word for it, they’re just doctors for a healthy paycheck and that’s it.

    • Tina August 12, 2016, 5:29 pm

      Hi Gina, It’s been a while now since you’ve posted…did you ever find any answers? I’ve had this problem since the end of 2014—same situation, not caused by medications—and I after going through a lot of testing, no one knows the cause. Did you find anything that helps with the symptoms?

  • Jack K. January 3, 2015, 9:12 pm

    Hi! I’ve been experiencing brain zaps ever since I transitioned from Lexapro to Prozac. I think that I may be experiencing withdrawal from the Lexapro, even though I did taper down while going on to the Prozac. It’s been about 6 months now. Moving my eyes is what sets them off. Not every time, though. Very strange. Why hasn’t anyone done research on this? Plenty of people are having the same experience with the same class of drugs.

    • Nader May 16, 2015, 9:26 pm

      I started to experience severe brain zaps accompanied by short episodes of vertigo while on 10mg cipralex after more than 5 years. My phsyciatrist decided to put me on 20mg Prozac instead. Been on Prozac for more than 6 months, but brain zaps still occur although not with the same intensity and frequency.

    • Casper September 17, 2016, 10:48 pm

      My brain zaps started during my withdrawal from Lexapro, so I can confirm that Lexapro withdrawal can definitely cause brain zaps. I quit Lexapro cold turkey which was a big mistake. I toughed it out, but it was the absolute worst several days I’ve ever experienced. Weaning off Lexapro should not be taken lightly.

  • zee January 8, 2015, 2:23 am

    I have something worse than brain zaps. It started as brain zaps I would get dizzy and think I had a clot in my brain or something. Now it has moved to under my left arm and shuts around my heart and chest. Sometimes it shuts across my chest through my breast. It becomes so painful and scary I just lie and bed and wait to die. I was on Cymbalta and now I am not. I wish someone would send me a cure. This thing is scary and it has ruined my life.

    • ALR May 17, 2015, 10:12 pm

      Zee, I first want to tell you that I’ve never replied to any comment online…ever, you are my first. Actually I’ve never even posted my own comment online, let alone a reply to someone else’s. For some reason I felt compelled to reply to you. I was so disheartened to see you write you, “lie in bed and wait to die.” I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I need to tell you, “don’t give up.” Unfortunately I do not have the cure to brain zaps, shooting pain under your left arm, across your chest or around your heart.

      All I have is this moment and the means to tell you that someone who doesn’t know you cares for you and is empathetic to your suffering. Life is more than pain, and life is much more than waiting for the pain to consume you and die. I am commenting to you solely to let you know that I love you and you’re not alone. All I can say is that your comment evoked something in me to give you that simple message…Don’t give up.

      • M July 12, 2015, 4:22 am

        You sound like an angel from Heaven. Thanks for people like you. xo

      • Frida October 22, 2015, 9:22 pm

        Love right back at you from the other side of the World.

    • Cyndi June 16, 2015, 1:31 am

      I also don’t reply to comments, but boy you described exactly the zaps and chest pain I am having. I’m not laying in bed, waiting to die, but until I ead this article and your comment I sure thought I was just going to die! Between the constant brai. Zaps and chest pain I thought I was dying for sure. I’m raising a 13 year old autistic grandson who I didn’t know where he would go if something happens to me, so my stress was getting worse. It’s always a good thing to know what is going on and I’m too busy to let this hold me down, I make and donate weighted blankets for autistic children in need and there are so many in need. Please, you helped me, find the strength to get out of bed and live through it. Help others and it will help you I promise. It’s scary to go through this, you can do this.

      • Anny November 25, 2015, 6:58 pm

        Ok I know I will sound nuts but after “stating my case” to at least 30 doctors I am used to it (also sorry for my spelling mistakes, I am not a native English speaker): No depression, no anti-depressives, no anxiety, no medication except for thyroid. Electrical shocks mainly before or during sleeping. I haven’t found the cure but I found by luck a reeeally weird method to avoid 95% of the episodes. Before sleep or when I feel the “show” is about to start I mix 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it.

        Don’t ask me why, but its the only thing that works for me (for 2 years now). Doctors laugh. Only a chemist told me that baking soda contains electrical information (?). I am only sharing this info in case it helps somebody -even by chance- as it helps me. This period when you feel like from another planet… At least we know we are not alone in this. P.S. If somebody tries it and works for him/her please let me know.

        • Gina G January 20, 2016, 3:41 pm

          Oh, my Goodness! I experienced a brain zap for the first time ever last night while napping on the couch. I reflected on what may have caused it, and I came up with having drank too much cheap red wine and/or having dropped my thyroid medication two days before. Well, your comments about the baking soda cure is just the answer! My body was too acidic from drinking the wine and baking soda counteracts that beautifully! Next time I indulge inappropriately I will definitely take baking soda! Thank you very much!

        • Gloria January 25, 2016, 1:54 pm

          I am trying the vinegar diet, starting on my third day so after reading your post I tried the baking soda in a glass of water and the electric shocks went away. It may not work every time, but it definitely did this time. Thanks for the suggestion.

        • Connie April 16, 2016, 1:59 pm

          I have been taking Levothyroxin for 6 years for hypothyroid. Three weeks ago my prescription changed from 112mcg to 125mcg. Started having heart pain, back/kidney pain and dry eyes like sand or sunburn in my eyes.

          I decided to change, without my doctor’s approval, from taking a whole pill in the morning to breaking it in half and take half in the morning and half at night. Yesterday, my first day of the split dose, I experienced what I now know is a brain zap with dizziness and euphoria feeling that took me down and out of work for several hours.

          My doctor told me to go to the ER for evaluation to rule out heart attack and stroke. After many tests I was told there was no explanation for this electrical zap feeling – like touching my head on an electric fence. This site has given me insight and affirmation that this episode is not all in my head.

          Next week I plan to visit with my doctor about possible reverting back to the 112mcg or find a different med for Hypothyroid. Thank you for posting Anny. I am going to try the baking soda and water.

    • Mary Thompson May 5, 2016, 1:06 am

      Honey I can bet that you are experiencing anxiety attacks!! I have the brain zaps. I take medication, but I get them frequently! I get them upon waking and sometimes as I am going to sleep. Sometimes I hear loud bangs and sometime almost sounds like sirens when I wake up in the AM! I am thinking this might be anxiety as well.

  • Tyler R. January 10, 2015, 2:10 am

    Hello, Gloom! Thank you very much for the article; I’ve been having brain zaps for the last little while and it’s enlightening to know that my worries were not a matter of hypochondria. My ‘zaps’ started around December as I was weaning off of an Adderall prescription of 20mg daily. Starting nearly a fortnight ago I quit the drug cold turkey and since then, my zaps have intensified.

    For me, the zaps are triggered by eye movements that I perform after periods of sleep; this can be after a night’s rest but it mostly occurs after naps of about 1-3 hours or less. I would wake up, look side-to-side and feel a sharp but non-painful pulsation sprout through my body. This sensation would be felt usually around areas such as the head, chest, arms, and/or legs. I wouldn’t be too concerned about my zaps if it was not for the apparent fact that my body still has not withdrawn from the medication.

    I’m also beginning to wonder whether or not 1) my daily intakes of caffeine and the crashes they cause are contributing to the occurrence of these zaps or 2) the issue is related to the cluster headaches that I have been feeling behind my left-eye for the last year or so (something that is largely unrelated to me taking or not taking Adderall). However, probability would dictate that all those concerns are just my inner worry-wort speaking.

    I’ll follow the article’s advice and begin taking fish oils and/or B12 vitamins. Afterwards, I’ll hopefully remember to reply back to this article with an update about the frequency or infrequency of these zaps. Thanks again!

    • Mandy March 8, 2015, 7:10 am

      “I would wake up, look side-to-side and feel a sharp but non-painful pulsation sprout through my body. This sensation would be felt usually around areas such as the head, chest, arms, and/or legs.” This describes EXACTLY what happens to me! Almost like a small burst of adrenaline with a falling sensation that lasts less than a second.

      • thekla April 9, 2015, 7:43 pm

        I get the feeling in my chest too. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      • AnMa December 30, 2015, 3:06 am

        I also feel it in the chest! It’s like a burst of adrenaline, or like I’m gonna fall, it gets me dizzy. In my case it is because of the antidepressants. And I am baffled that doctors have no idea what we’re talking about… I first got off of celexa some years ago and it would happen pretty severely after stopping at the dosage my doctor told me to stop. It was too fast for me.

        I tapered slower and it went well. But now, I am trying to get off from cipralex and this one is worst… if I forget one day, I get the zaps. I am now cutting my pills in quarters and I get the zaps. I told my doctor, I need to get off of it reaaaally slowly. She looks at me like I am exaggerating like a kid or something and tells me: “But, you’re already doing it slowly…” and I’m like: “I know, but I need to got even SLOWER” It’s frustrating, I know my body better than her!

        First time I asked my doctor if antidepressant could cause that kind of symptoms, she told me “No, I don’t think the pills are doing that…” I asked a pharmacist, same answer!! Wow, pill experts know nothing about this very common side effect!! I once asked another doctor, she told me that she knew about it, it was pretty new and they didn’t know a lot about it, and that they didn’t learn anything at all about this in school.

        This is too new. But I am still surprised after all the antidepressant that they prescribe to so many people for so many reasons, that they still don’t know about it?? They are just beginning to here about it or something… Anyway, I will try omega-3 and vit-B12 to see if it helps at least to get off the meds!

    • Barbara September 15, 2015, 6:23 am

      While I don’t get the pain in the chest, now that you mention it, I do get a very hollow feeling in my stomach. And like others, I can bring on additional zaps by moving my eyes back and forth. My husband just mentioned that he is starting to experience them, to a very mild extent.

    • Tina August 12, 2016, 5:38 pm

      Hello Tyler, I find it interesting that your zaps started after discontinuing Adderall. Mine started when I wasn’t on medications, but after I was prescribed Modafinil for the fatigue that accompanied the zaps, I noticed the Modafinil helped with the zapping too. I found that odd. I told all doctors about it, but no one had anything to say about it.

      In any case, this makes me wonder if other drugs should be listed as possible culprits. Are you still having symptoms? Did you find out anything? Curious to know…mine have been going on for almost two years now. I’d love to get some answers.

  • Dennis January 10, 2015, 5:04 am

    I am so relieved to finally read a good article like this about brain zaps! After attempting to stop seroxat, with a cold turkey treatment, I was experiencing a lot of these brain shocks and it was the most terrible feeling ever! After weeks of shocks, I went on to see my doctor and she helped me off these meds properly! I always felt like these shocks did damage my brain and IQ, but I’m glad to see that, it might not! :) I can only advice anyone trying to stop paroxetine/seroxat to go slow! That way you’ll avoid severe brain zaps!!!

  • Scott Moorhead January 14, 2015, 10:51 pm

    I take Effexor XR 150mg once per day. I have been on this dose for years. I have noticed that when I experience these zaps I also have a slight temperature. I personally feel that the elevated temperature speeds up how quickly the medicine is metabolized and shortens the half life.

    • Lori July 13, 2015, 5:52 pm

      Hello everyone! I’ve been on Effexor XR for 15 years because of anxiety and depression which had brain zaps that I described as misfiring synapses. All Drs thought I was loony but they stopped after starting on my antideprresion. After feeling normal and normal zaps, I started my nightly 2 glasses of wine every night and those damned zaps, zings, electrical currents started happening again!!!

      Moral of the story you’re not supposed to drink while taking antidepressants so I slowed down to a few glasses of wine a week!!! And they’ve gone always. The alcohol was demininshing the affect of the antidepressant!! So now when I start that zing zap I know it’s time to cut back my wine intake. So scary though.

  • Daniel January 17, 2015, 1:08 am

    I first started having brain zaps after stopping Zoloft which I took for about 6 months in 2006. They were severe and unsettling, often knocking my equilibrium off enough to where I would fall. I still suffer from brain zaps and that’s why I’m on this site. I have dealt with them now for 8 years off and on. Right now they are pretty severe. I have not found anything that reduces their severity in 8 years.

    My personal belief after 8 years of reading about SSRI’s, SNRI’s, and the people who suffer from post medication symptoms – THEY ARE DANGEROUS! THEY CAUSE PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE AND SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TO ANYONE EXCEPT UNDER EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCE SUCH AS SUICIDE PREVENTION! I hope the editor of this site does not remove my comment though it’s likely it will get removed. I just hope that someone out there considering taking SSRIs reads this message and it saves them. SSRI’s have significantly diminished my quality of life and well-being. I am still suffering the lasting effects 8 years later!

    • Heidi B July 12, 2015, 7:23 pm

      Daniel – I am so sorry to hear this has continued for you for so incredibly long. If you have not already done so, you may want to join the Facebook group Prescription Drug Dangers or Life Beyond SSRI Antidepressants – Prozac, Effexor and Many More. You will find great support there as well as many suggestions for relief. Hugs!

    • Mike September 3, 2015, 4:54 am

      I took Zoloft for 7 months and the sexual dysfunction was too much for me. After discussion with my doc we switched to wellbutrin, she made NO mention of tapering off the zoloft. After about 36 hours I began experiencing these zaps. Until I found out what they were, I was quite anxious. I can describe it as the first moments of a head rush (the first 2 seconds) compressed into a 1/2 second “pulse.”

      Or for anyone who’s ever done nitrous oxide whippets– the moment after you inhale and you first start to feel the effects. It’s like a small slice of that in the form of split second pulses. For some reason I noticed I do not experience them until between 2 and 3pm each day. Then they continue on average about 5-8 times a minute until I go to sleep. I read the comment about putting up with this for 8 years and it scared the sh*t out of me.

      If I wasn’t suicidal before I will be after 8 years of dealing with this bullsh*t. Personally I deeply regret ever having agreed to take Zoloft. I was happier before I took it. Now I try my best to work through these zaps but it has been 2 weeks and they are seemingly becoming more frequent and more intense. They make me feel slightly detached from reality when the frequency is multiple times each minute. Sometimes I have a bout of 3 of them in a 10 second span and I have to pause for a moment and collect my thoughts, it really does become a distraction.

      • Memphis gurrrl April 30, 2016, 5:09 pm

        I’m willing to admit to whippits, way back in the day, and YES–it’s like that first few seconds but in a sprinkled on version.

    • Seana May 4, 2016, 4:46 pm

      Here here. I took Cymbalta and it wrecked my life for a good year. I was only on it for a couple months and just felt nothing while on it. The nurse in the ER where I went for the worst panic attack of my life (after trying to come off Cymbalta) told me that they get tons of people in the ER with withdrawals from these SSRI type drugs that feel like they’re dying.

      It should be illegal. I’m so sorry anyone has to deal with these things. I totally agree with you that they should only be used as a last resort and if nothing else works. They are horrid.

  • Gloomy January 17, 2015, 9:59 pm

    Was on celexa since 2009 wanted to free myself from it in 2013. Tapered down to 10 mg from 20 mg and then stopped. Huge mistake. Brain zaps, dizziness, ringing in ears. Felt as if I was going crazy. Horrible. Doctors couldn’t help. So went back on the meds and decided to wean slower almost a year later. Now here I am 6 weeks after stopping my last dosage I am suffering from severe waves of dizziness and brain zaps.

    Makes me feel horrible. Went to doctors they do not believe it is withdrawal. They said its too long since I took my last dose. from what I read I beg to differ. I go for an MRI Monday to rule out MS, and possible blood vessel being compromised in my brain. Because doctor swears this it not the cause of my dizziness and my weird brain zaps as he said. Celexa is a mean drug. Don’t wish this upon anyone. I will not give up.

    • AnMa December 30, 2015, 3:23 am

      My doctor told me the same!! That it wasn’t celexa. I even asked a pharmacist (pill experts, they should know) and he told me the same!! I can’t believe they do not know about it with so many people experiencing it and so many people taking those meds…. Yeah celexa is mean… cipralex too (trying to get off of it right now…)

  • Mary January 21, 2015, 7:41 pm

    I also experience “brain zaps.” I have had them since stopping anti-depressants in 1984. 30 years, they have not gone away. Not having insurances all these years I have never asked a doctor about them and did not know what caused them or that other people had them until it came up in a conversation with my son who also experiences them. I also have issues with equilibrium and I am now certain that the two are related. They are worse upon waking or when I am tired. Some are like small bolts of electricity shooting through my head, others are like a shot of adrenaline coursing through my entire body. It is good to know that they do not cause any damage as this has been a concern of mine for years. Thank you for your article.

    • thekla April 9, 2015, 7:47 pm

      I hope mine do not last for years. :(

      • Sheila March 21, 2016, 1:53 pm

        Mine went away each time I tapered off Zoloft. But they are nasty and awful!! Liquid Fish oil and B complex help and waiting it out.

  • James January 22, 2015, 3:02 am

    Over the years on rare occasion I experienced a brain zap. Like an electric shock going through my brain. Maybe 5 times in my life. I thought it was a mini epileptic seizure, I never heard of brain zap before. I never have taken any prescription drugs in my life.

  • Julie FNP-C January 26, 2015, 12:31 am

    Brain Zaps can be debilitating. It is the response of your sympathetic nervous system, “Fight or Flight”. The sympathetic nervous system prepares you for action. The opposite of the sympathetic is the parasympathetic “Rest and Digest”. I recommend several ways to decrease and sometime fully alleviate Brain Zaps to my patients. Things that will help your sympathetic nervous system include:
    • Rest with your eyes closed and soft music
    • Meditation: Try any of Jack Kornfields meditation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viKB7QZioKA
    • Take warm bath with dim lights and soft music
    • Decreased stimuli-computer, TV, music
    • Breathing exercises
    • Yoga-preferably “restorative yoga” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKVunWMHNm8
    • Avoid action movies that activate the sympathetic nervous system.
    • Avoid confrontation.
    I hope this helps. I know that it can be both scary and frustrating.

    • Angela McKenn August 6, 2015, 11:41 pm

      That is no help at all and anyone who tells you it is doesn’t get zaps.

      • christine October 21, 2015, 3:08 am

        I agree Angela. I am a nurse and have been for 40 years. Of course I have tried ALL those things…my 24/7 zaps only go away with pain relief, and I sure as hell am not happy about the amount I am taking. If I could find another cure, I would share it with the world. I will try the fish oil and B12…got nothing to lose.

        • anny November 28, 2015, 5:13 pm

          Christine, mine also went away only with pain relief med (panadol extra) and doctors told it was probably because I was having silent migraines. Since you are a nurse this could be the case because of the hospital lighting (usually lamps that have flickering and trigger migraines silent or not). But still, next time instead of taking pain relief try 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. To me it works 95% of the times. I don’t know why, doctors don’t know why, but these damn brain zaps stop immediately! Do try, and if it works for you too, please share it with the world.

    • Michelle November 1, 2016, 5:50 am

      Thank you for the comment! I have been reading everyones experiences and I am so relieved to know I am NOT alone. I have been looking for any sort of medical opinion because my doctors sure do not want to tell me that the combination of medications they have had me on and coming off of course have causes this. I very much appreciate the explanation. You have no idea how much this helps. I will be trying the omega 3 and b12 and see where it goes. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in this.

  • Hanik January 27, 2015, 3:37 am

    I’ve been on sertraline for 7 months. 100mg, then tapered down to 50mg for about a month. Then cut the pills down to 25mg for two weeks and then stopped. Didn’t get any issues for the first day or so, then I was hit with brain zaps and flu like symptoms. Brain zaps are pretty much debilitating as just moving my eyes side to side trigger them. GPs had never heard of the symptoms. Very worrying as they were pretty quick to prescribe these meds. GPs should NEVER be allowed to prescribe SSRI’s – that should be left to specialist psychiatrists to prescribe. Thank God for the Internet as it’s comforting to know that others have gone through the same issues and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Nichola May 3, 2016, 11:18 am

      How long did it take for brain zaps to stop may I ask?

  • lucy alley January 27, 2015, 4:47 am

    Since most doctors are unfamiliar with this phenom I find it hard to believe they are harmless. I told my ENT to remember the term ‘brain zaps’ (after him telling me they were psychosomatic) because he would hear it in the near future and I wanted him to remember our conversation when he finally became aware of it. My family dr thinks I have nerve problems, put me on gabepentin and is sending me for an MRI and to a neurologist.

    He will not even consider wellbutrin being the cause. I have also read there is more and more evidence linking Alzheimer’s and antidepressant use. I took wellbutrin approx 3 months, quit 3 months ago, and my brain zaps while ‘sedated’ by the gabepentin are as frequent as ever. See the neurologist tomorrow. Will post more after the visit.

    • David September 20, 2015, 3:50 am

      This happened to me too, years ago. I didn’t even think of the connection until recently when I read an article about cymbalta.

  • Things Have To Get Better February 3, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I am so glad to have stumbled across this article. I have found the comments to be really helpful. I was taking 100mg of Zoloft for 18 months and decided (with my GP and psychologist) to stop this year. I tapered to 50mg for a week and then to around 35mg for a week before stopping completely.

    I have found the side effects to be pretty horrific, but after reading the comments here, I am feeling optimistic. I too am experiencing dizziness, nausea, brain zaps, bowel trouble, agitation, itchiness, muscular and joint aches, cold-like symptoms, and exhaustion. I am napping after work for up to 3 hours and then, of course, not sleeping until the wee hours of the morning.

    However, I am so keen to get this drug out of my system that I am just trying to focus on riding through this fog. I am thankful that the drug helped me through a very difficult bout of depression and anxiety – so I try holding onto that every time my brain zaps… Best of wishes to all of you.

  • Pat February 4, 2015, 3:30 pm

    Recently I misplaced a refill of Zoloft and was off it for a week. After about 5 days I started experiencing electrical shocks in my lower face when I would turn my face left or right. The shocks were getting worse and I finally realized that it was related to withdrawal from Zoloft. I stumbled upon my refill in the pocket of a lightweight jacket that I wore around the house. After taking one tablet my zaps went away. They had not been painful, but they were very disconcerting.

  • Kate in Denmark February 7, 2015, 4:36 pm

    Hi Gloom! Thank you for your very helpful article! Thank you also, to all of those who have replied to this article. I’ve had brain zaps for a few years but didn’t know other people had them or that they had a name. It has helped tremendously knowing that I’m not alone! I take 100mg Quetiapine (Seroquel generic) per day as I have depression with psychosis. I have been taking Quetiapine since October 2012.

    Before that I was on Sertraline & before that Venlafaxine. I also take 3.75mg Oxazepam per day for anxiety and 20mg Omeprazol per day for a hiatus hernia. I have tried to describe the brain zaps to my psychiatrist but she assumed I meant I was hallucinating. But I have physical pain in my brain! When I have them, I feel like my head is one of those static electricity balls.

    I also become very jittery, my hands shake & I battle to think properly, concentrate on anything or remember things. I have printed your article & will show my psychiatric nurse when I have my next appointment. Thanks again!

    • ChrisC July 14, 2015, 10:53 pm

      Hey Kate, Thanks for sharing, your words have helped me make a connection. I have brain zaps as the internet has named it. The only medication I take is 20mg of Omeprazol a day for acid reflux. I have been on it for 15 years. I don’t have any of the other symptoms you described but you are taking a number of different medicines, so sorry to hear of the discomfort.

      I hope you get to the bottom of the causes. But maybe I can help connect one of them. Searching the internet I am starting to think that the brain zaps are somehow connected to Omeprazol. I don’t take anything else yet I have them to. I am gonna keep searching. Thanks for sharing…

  • zak from Mauritius February 8, 2015, 9:30 pm

    Hi there. Thanks for posting this article. It really helps. Well, I was on Effexor XR 75 mg for 4 months. I quit it cold turkey a week ago. The first two days were freaking horrible. My heart was beating fast. Cold sweats. Dry mouth. Hallucinations. Anger problems. Couldn’t stand anyone talking to me. And the famous “brain zaps.” Then somebody told me to drink a lot of green tea with some ‘eau des carmes’… a very old french medicine. The anxieties and the brain zaps have lowered considerably. I just want these zaps to leave me in peace. I’m very restless because of them. Imagine you’re talking to someone and all of a sudden an electric sh*t passes through the brain and the speech gets jilted. WTF is that. Mayday mayday.

  • Carolyn February 9, 2015, 3:46 am

    Thank you for this article. I have been on Zoloft, Pristiq and finally Cymbalta over about 2 years. Cymbalta for the last year. I didn’t have much of a result with any of these so recently my GP said lets get off Cymbalta and see how I go. I was once very fit and since taking Cymbalta I was just too tired to do anything much and have gained weight. A whole new thing to add to my depression. I was on 60mg and my taper was to have a tablet every second day for 2 weeks then stop.

    I experienced the brain zaps and flickering dizziness the first weekend, as I did if I accidentally missed a dose, then over the two weeks less so. This last weekend was the first without cymbalta at all and it’s like there was no taper at all. I have a headache, dizziness, not quite right in the tummy and of course the brain zaps. I describe them like having a cricket or a cicada in your head for a few seconds. Sort of a blocked ear buzz buzz.
    It’s quite debilitating and making it hard for me to work.

    I really wonder if it was worth it. Considering I didn’t feel Cymbalta did anything much for me while I was on it. Reading that some people have the brain zaps for years and years really has me worried. Have I done permanent damage? I will try the fish oil and see if that helps. Thanks for reading everyone.

  • Charlie February 11, 2015, 4:52 am

    To me it feels as if a radar sweep is going on in my head. Comes from the right side and goes out the left… Scares the hell out of me.

    • Sandi Green February 12, 2015, 1:07 am

      Mine too. From right to left.

    • Str July 20, 2016, 6:16 pm

      Mine go from left to right and I can use eye movements to test for them. They are also accompanied by a loud ringing in my ears. I’ve been on the same antidepressant cocktail (Effexor and Wellbutrin) for years and never miss a dose. I also take a low dose (1mg) of Xanax at night and now sleep with s CPAP so I should be getting more REM sleep.

      Inflammation is always an issue for me with arthritis pain throughout my body. Even on pain meds I get the brain zaps pretty often. Sorry to say that pot doesn’t cure them either. I may try the omega-3 and b12. My shrink says he’s hearing more and more about brain zaps and there may be some studies about them on the horizon.

  • sandi green February 12, 2015, 1:06 am

    I have brain zaps. I have had them for some time. I have the vertigo and running in the ears with it. It’s very scary. I wish they would go away. I love meclizine for dizziness. I feel nauseated all the time… it’s ridiculous.

    • Charlene Adkins October 12, 2015, 4:45 am

      I have terrible brain zaps and vertigo also ringing in the ears. I had one the other night, that my left leg was shaking. Very scary. I have taken lorazepam for years also. Went off and but the zaps just kept coming. Started back on and added gabapentin. Keeping my fingers crossed this helps. I am really getting scared.

  • Amy February 13, 2015, 4:34 pm

    I have had 2 separate experiences with brain zaps. Once after weaning off of Effexor 75mg (I had been on it for slightly more than a year). Even if I missed one dose of it, the brain zaps would start. Mist recently I weaned off of 200mg of Seroquel. The first 3 days after stopping it were great…no brain zaps. Now, they’re back with a vengeance for the last week.

    They’ve gotten so bad they are almost constant and I almost can’t even walk around my apartment without practically falling over. I fell over this morning but was able to catch myself on my kitchen counter. I am at a loss as to what to do, and so is my doctor. Going to call my pharmacist and see if there is a minimum dose on Seroquel because I can’t live like this.

    • Charlene Adkins October 12, 2015, 4:48 am

      Sure hope you get some help. I have terrible zaps for last year. They are getting more severe. I am really scared. My dr. doesn’t have a clue what they are.

  • Marie Hanna February 15, 2015, 1:09 am

    I am 25 years old. I was first put on antidepressants at age 7 and had been prescribed various antidepressants such as luvox, zoloft, cymbalta and pristiq for 18 years. In October last year I went cold turkey from 100 mg of pristiq and have been having brain zaps ever since. They have become more seizure-like now, but my doctor prescribed me Naproxen/Naprosen and it seems to be helping. When I get a brain zap, it takes most of the pain away 20 minutes after taking it, however it doesn’t prevent them. Going to the doctor tomorrow to get MRI results.

  • James February 15, 2015, 8:47 pm

    Hi I’m having them right now… I have them every time I try to stop taking paroxetine. It drives me crazy – I’m gonna try the fish oil and B12!

    • Hannah September 23, 2015, 12:44 am

      YES I was looking for someone else that had them from dropping paroxetine. I stopped taking it because it gave me insomnia and I figured I would rather deal with anxiety and sleep then not sleep and just be mad all the time. I remember the brain zaps from when I quit my antidepressants last year too. No fun :(

  • Neal February 18, 2015, 2:01 am

    Oxycodone helps very well if you can get the doctor to prescribe them for brain zaps.

    • Julie November 9, 2015, 10:37 am

      I take OxyContin 20mg every 6 hours. It hasn’t helped the zaps. But maybe they would be worse without it. What has helped zaps for me is fish oil. My zaps were caused by stopping Effexor (35.5 for 3 1/2 months).

  • Jane Wood February 24, 2015, 10:23 am

    I was only on a 10mg dose of Citalopram for less than a year and I thought I’d be ok to go ‘cold turkey’ as I was told that it was hard to believe that such a small dose of the drug could have any effect on me anyway. Not the brightest move. My sleep patterns have altered dramatically and I’m having weird dreams, but by the worst symptom has been the ‘brain zaps’. It’s like a jolt of electricity inside my head that feels like it affects my fine motor movements too. I’m really working hard to maintain concentration when the zaps are most frequent.

    Having said all of this, I’m taking advice from your other contributors and I’m going to try the supplements (B12 and Omega 3 rich fish oil tablets). Citalopram really helped me get through some tough times, whether such a small dose had a placebo affect or chemically affected my brain. I would guess the latter bearing in mind my current withdrawal symptoms. On the plus side of withdrawal, I’m living life in color again.

    I’m loving my music and I’m positive and excited about future plans. On Citalopram I didn’t get depressed or anxious but I also didn’t get particularly animated either. Don’t get me wrong, my head needed a holiday from the horrible, debilitating anxiety I was feeling and I got that from Citalopram. Time to come home now and get on with my life. Thanks for all the wise words on this forum, nice just to realize I’m not alone. Good luck to you all, whatever your journey!

    • Carina courtney March 12, 2016, 4:05 pm

      So relieved to read your comment. Also just tapered off citalopram 10mg after 1 year on it. Much needed at the time but now also enjoying living life in colour again. Only thing however are these brain zaps. I’m getting them badly 😢.

  • wijnand February 24, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Some 10 years ago I used 10 mg of escitalopram a day for about a year and a half. Since I was warned to not stop cold turkey, I slowly lowered the dose. Immediately I started to have brain zapps after going to 7.5 mg. So I stayed on that dose for some time and the zapps slowly stopped. Then I lowered to 5 mg and waited again for the zaps to go away. After some time I was at 1 mg without zaps.

    But lowering the dose even more and the zaps did not go away anymore, even after weeks. So I decided to stay on 1 mg and stayed on it for years. I tried to stop now and then, to no avail. Since a few month I even needed to start taking 2 mg a day, because the zaps started to come back. Last few days I ran out of medication and the zaps started to come back and after two days they where there nearly all the time (mainly triggered by eye movement).

    This afternoon my wife got me new medication and after 1 hour I was feeling much better again. Reading this blog and all the comments gets me wondering if I tried hard enough to get rid of the last bit of medication. But I also learned: there are no guarantees.

  • Bev March 1, 2015, 9:14 pm

    “This too shall pass” and the only way out is through. If you can stand it and you’re under a doctors care to avoid serious repercussions from depressive episodes, stick with your withdrawal. Every day in is one less day to suffer! I am experiencing brain zaps right now as I am withdrawing from Pristiq 100 mg. As it is a time release formula medication, the tablet cannot be split. The lowest dose they make is 50 mg, so once you drop down to that, it’s cold turkey. This sucks. Bouts of crying, major zaps, confusing words, etc.

    I am so grateful to be off work right now. Get a sleep mask from the dollar store, it seems to help lessen eye movement, warm baths, limit time in from of flickering screens, check out the supplement suggestions of B12 and fish oil, drink TONS of water, clear tea, etc., whatever activities soothe you, yoga or nature walks help keep you from focusing on brain zaps. When it feels like too much, but you’re okay, remember your body is detoxing itself and each feeling might be a return to its natural state. Hang In There! Much love.

  • David March 2, 2015, 6:15 pm

    I took Paxil for one year 15 years ago and am still having brain zaps, especially upon awakening and also when I look to the right. I think I quit cold turkey, which I now read I should not have done. They are more frequent at times than at other times, but all are very frustrating. They also make me feel a little dizzy and disoriented or like my head is in a “fog.” I just started taking B12 and krill oil…..so, let’s see what happens! :-)

  • CATDADDY March 5, 2015, 12:48 am

    My doctor prescribed Effexor, but it wasn’t working well after a couple of months. She had me taper off of it gradually during the next month. As long as I took even the smallest dose, I had no problem, but the very day that I discontinued it, the brain zaps began. I’ve been off of it for about 2 weeks now, and my symptoms are improving gradually. Even slight head or eye movements trigger this sensation, and drinking caffeine or smoking seems to exacerbate the zaps.

  • Rebecca March 5, 2015, 3:53 am

    I am so glad I found this article because I was completely unsure what was going on with my brain zaps. I was on paxil for years and then changed over to Prozac to have children because it was safer. So I have been on antidepressants for over 10 years. I wanted to get off of them because I felt like I was starting to have small tick like symptoms and it was making my RLS (restless Leg Syndrome) horribly worse.

    The first time I tried cold turkey and ended up in the hospital with an IV. The second time I tapered off of Prozac slowly over 6 months. I have now been off of it for a month and my RLS is amazingly better and the occasional tick feeling is gone but I am started having the brain zaps. I have narrowed mine down to head turns that trigger them and I do get the horrible tinnitus in the ear on occasion.

    I have found that supplementing like the article said did help me with withdrawal symptoms very much. I am only 35 and I take the Menopause multivitamin with mood support and I have noticed a big difference like night and day. I also take a combo pill of Magnesium/calcium, and zinc. I have a vitamin D deficiency which is common in women so I take that to. Thank you for the informative article!

  • Nicole March 5, 2015, 2:17 pm

    I have had these when I’ve ran out of 5htp. 5htp affects serotonin just like antidepressants so it would only make sense to have them when stopping. Once I made that connection and got back on my 5htp, they went away. I also take Kavinace, which affects GABA levels. I recently let myself run out, and the zaps are back. I am taking B12 and omegas and they are not as bad as when I ran out of my 5htp. I have a new bottle of kavinace coming in the mail. My anxiety really threw me in a tail spin over these! It scared the crap out of me. This article explains a lot and really makes good sense! Thanks for posting.

  • Sidman March 5, 2015, 4:01 pm

    Well, I have been on 200mg of Pristq, and 800mg of Seroquel for many years now, and I did feel Brain Zaps when increasing my dosage of Pristiq. I have had lower back pain for about a year and a half, and was on Vicoprophen, and Percocet for all that time, and on higher doses of Percocet 12 weeks following back Surgery (Lamenectomy) I went cold turkey and I had intense brain zaps. After that I was on Tramadol for about two weeks. After I stopped that cold a week ago and have been getting intense brain zaps along with insomnia. How long can I expect these brain zaps to last, and what causes them after stopping opiates?

  • Nathan March 6, 2015, 11:05 pm

    I am so glad we can discuss brain zaps. Please, let’s keep this dialog going, until someone comes up with a cure or relief. I took citalopram back in 2010 for 3 months and weaned off. I have had brain zaps on a regular basis since then. My zaps are worst right after exercising or after a lack of sleep.

  • Kay March 7, 2015, 3:34 am

    I’ve been experiencing these electric cattle prod like jolts (dzzzzt) to the brain since tapering off Zoloft, two months now and it (dzzzzzt) is intensifying. Very disorientating, worse when I walk, I have a slight drunken wobble now and an obvious head twitch when it happens, which is super great when (dzzzzt) you’re out on a date. I guess it will take (dzzzzt) time and tlc, poor brain. Anyway, what I (dzzzzt) wanted to say was: let your family and friends know what is going on, send them a link to a forum (dzzzzzzzzzzzt…ooh a long one that time) or site like this if necessary so they have an understanding of your weird new zappy wobble buzz head. (dzzt dzzt…a double).

  • Felonious Grammar March 10, 2015, 1:13 pm

    I’ve been tapering off amitriptyline for nine months, from 150 mg nightly to 40 now, and counting down. I was prescribed it for nerve pain from Multiple Sclerosis and to help me sleep (because it’s hard to fall asleep when you’re in pain, right?). Even with pain and no pain, Elavil never really had any effect, at all, on my mood, not even when it was prescribed as an anti-depressant I didn’t need. It didn’t really help me MS either, but because the muscle relaxant I was prescribed for spasm (baclofen) caused asognosia and depersonalization, I couldn’t tell that neither worked, and both made the problems worse for years, to unsuspecting me.

    I’ve been systematically reducing medication for the last two years. I got caught in a prescribing cascade between my GP and neurologist that led to so many medications that it lowered the quality of my life just to have to swallow so many pills every day, three times I day. It’s been a slow process and I’ve done all the research, and continue to do it with great results and a shrinking pile of pills to take. Due to work demands, I did not sleep the night before land, and skipped my nightly medication, which included amitriptyline.

    Yesterday, I had oral surgery and took a valium before hand, because it’s very hard for me to lie back, be still, and be passive while someone has a drill in my mouth and is shaving my jaw bone. I think the Elavil and Valium disagreed with another. When I got I home I rested until dark, and the took my meds and fell asleep for seven hours. I woke up at 2 a.m. with intense electrical zaps from the back of my head through my upper right thorax, that were most painful in my right shoulder and armpit. It would have been stupid to dismiss heart attack. My mother had three unrecognized ones before her triple bypass.

    So, even though I need more sleep, sleeping wasn’t an option until I figured out what was going on. The zaps felt like waves of mortal dread ripping deeply through the muscle an flesh. I was also dizzy and had vertigo. It would have also been silly not to consider that they might be new symptoms of MS. It’s amazing how many different things can cause the same bizarre and disturbing feelings. Life is such a crap shoot sometimes, ya’ know?

    This is the second link I found, and it has been very useful. Although a shot of sublingual B-12 sounded good, and I got a glass of Gatorade for good luck, I decided to try to limit the variables and so took 10 mg of Amitriptyline ten minutes ago. Haven’t had a zap in eight minutes. I feel much better now and don’t have the horrible feeling of mortality salience you can sometimes get when you feel like you’re on the verge of a deadly event like your heart stopping due to some electrical malfunction.

    Much better now. I’ll give myself another twenty minutes, and when I’m sure the zaps have passed and I’m not feeling like I could faint, I’l go back to sleep. Thanks. It’s great to have other’s experiences with these Zapistas to compare to. I feel recovered now, and will be fading into sleep soon. Best wishes and good luck to anyone having to deal with these – they can be brutal.

  • Will March 11, 2015, 7:25 am

    I’m a brain zapper. Last 2 years with a gradual increase in frequency over the last year or so. It’s most prominent upon waking, be it after a 1 hour nap or a full night of sleep. It’s most noticeable for 5-10 minutes thereafter and ‘triggers’ when gazing left or right. Sometimes when blinking as well. It ‘clears’ up generally after being awake and alert for a period time. I’ve also had a mild tinnitus (ringing) in my right ear for about a year. When I get the zaps, the tinnitus is more noticeable and seems to modulate with each zap.

    I’m not on any anti-depressants, benzos or the like. I am on Omeprazole and Asacol for gastric issues. I am a 1/2 ppd smoker. I’m a moderate, 2-3 standard drink per evening drinker. I’m starting to think the sedative effects of the alcohol is creating mild benzo-withdrawal type symptoms, as I’ve become accustomed to having alcohol in my system at some point almost daily. I don’t experience any typical withdrawal symptoms you would expect with heavier consumption.

    Curious if any other moderate drinkers show with these symptoms. I’ve seen an ENT for the ringing and some mild lightheadedness. No flags but she is recommending a neurologist if the symptoms continue. I may also have mild sleep apnea, my wife says I snore like crazy and I know I could be sleeping better. Curious if there’s a connection there. I’m obviously overdue for some lifestyle improvements, hopefully with a bit more will-power. I’ll post back if symptoms resolve.

  • Lynne March 14, 2015, 5:11 pm

    I came off Citalopram just over a week ago. I was on 20mg daily, and reduced to 10mg daily for two months, then stopped. Within a couple of days of coming off the meds I experienced bad dizziness, extreme tiredness, and what I now know to be brain zaps. They are quite horrible. I get them frequently, and feel them when my eyes move from one side to the other. I have currently had these symptoms for six days. Don’t know what to do.

  • Richmond McNeal March 16, 2015, 4:30 pm

    I have brain zaps and never have gotten off any medicine. It is quite severe. These brain zaps actually wipe my memory and delay my thought process. My theory is that some dopamine can protect people from certain impulses (overpowering negative impulse, and creating a relaxing feeling, if you have good coping mechanisms (per-say). Serotonin blocks this process and build up negative energy because your brain is speeding up its processes between neurotransmitters. I wish I could find a cure for this but I just have to deal with it on my on level, everybody is different with their levels of their thought process, which makes all the difference.

  • Jamie1144 March 17, 2015, 1:46 am

    I’m so glad I found this site and all the feed back everyone has contributed, I’ve been taking sertraline for 2 years first 50mg then 100mg. Whilst taking these meds if I ever missed a day or so or ran out of medication I would get horrendous “brain zaps” and flu like symptoms, I quickly realized it was the medication. It was scary if I didn’t have my meds daily because the withdrawal was unbearable.

    Over time my girlfriend kept pestering me to come off the meds because I was no longer depressed, but I couldn’t handle the dreaded brain zaps. Anyways getting to the point I ran out 11 days ago and thought I’m going to face this head on. I’m 11 days without the meds and the brain zaps haven’t subsided at all… they’re still regular all day. This is truly effecting my life I can’t work because I feel like I’m high on drugs and constantly off balance.

    It’s ruining my life. What really worries me is reading all these comments nobody has said they have stopped, they still get them even years on. I can’t take the meds any longer they made me ill. If I’m honest I wasn’t the same me, and now that I’ve discontinued I’m still ill! I don’t know what I’m going to do – it’s driving me insane. Please let me know if any one has seen the light at the end of the tunnel because it’s dark where I am!

  • Julia Heather March 19, 2015, 12:09 pm

    This is great information! I’ve been experiencing brain zaps for about two months now (mostly at night and in the afternoon) but I have not been on any medication, just high mental and physical stress. This website really helped to reassure my worries. Thanks!! :)

  • Abby March 19, 2015, 11:49 pm

    I’m curious… it says brain zaps aren’t dangerous but after forgetting a dose of Viibrid (40mg) the zaps got so bad and long I thought I was having a seizure. Could the zaps potentially lead to a seizure, I wonder? It was a very scary sensation.

  • Emily March 20, 2015, 1:45 am

    I recently quit taking Lexapro, which I had been on for six months for my anxiety disorder. I did taper, but I did it quickly because I was so fed up with the side effects of the drug. Boy am I regretting that decision. The brain zaps took about a week to start, but they are getting more intense. Mostly they happen when I’m moving a lot or am busy. Keeping my head steady and slowly moving my eyes helps keep them at bay.

  • richelle March 21, 2015, 7:21 am

    I thought I was going crazy every possible thought was going through my head I have a tumor, blood clot, etc. I wear a head piece at work thought it was that changed my box that goes to head piece even got s new phone always would happen at work then tonight sitting on couch it happen OMG I told my husband something is wrong I go to sleep crying. I wake up and get on the internet. I take amitriptyline 50 mg for anxiety I haven’t missed a dose but I’m not taking any vitamins. I was vitamin D deficient so I’m going to start taking again. I’m glad I found this site (I was freaking out).

  • David Kreckel March 22, 2015, 1:01 am

    I’m experiencing brain zaps weeks after coming off of oxycontin.

  • Chrissy March 22, 2015, 3:12 am

    I just recently came off cymbalta and have been getting brain zaps. I will say they are the worst thing ever. Mine get bad especially when I get cold. I can even hear the sound of the zaps at times. It’s very unsettling. They get so severe that it throws my whole sensations off where I can’t touch anything. The zaps almost feel like a seizure at times.

    I have found a solution to mine. GABA and psuedofed. I’m hoping they will eventually stop once my brain adjust back to normal. I was only on cymbalta for 4 months and just took 30 mg. (I was DX with fibromyalgia. I did come off of it cold turkey but only because it was making me very sick. I also can’t take any other SSRI due to they all seem to make me sick.

    GABA is an all natural supplement that helps the neurotransmitters in your brain stop “snapping”. I do have have to take it 3 times a day and a psuedofed along with it once a day but it does completely stop the lighting storm in my head. It also calms my nerves. It suppose to help with all sorts of problems. Hope this helps someone, I do feel for those who have this awful problem.

  • Adam March 22, 2015, 6:33 pm

    My zaps started in 2001, when I was suddenly taken off Effexor because of hypertension issues. I was on it for three years, for clinical depression of course, and had been doing very well, employed full time, etc. My doctor “tapered” me off of it in only three days, and that’s when I entered Hell. To make a long story short, my depression came roaring back along with unrelenting brain zapping, which was an entirely new and horribly uncomfortable, sensation.

    I expressed suicidal thoughts: was put under 72 hour mandatory observation in a Kaiser facility where among other things, I was given several courses of ECT; my doctor came up with a new antidepressant cocktail for me, I got back on my feet, went back to work, and successfully rebooted my life-BUT THE ZAPS HAVE NEVER GONE AWAY. They do come and go and I’ve become resigned to them, but when they are here, they can become the “Elephant in the Room”. The ONLY relief I’ve ever found came in the form of Ibuprofen.

    For me, it’s the anti-zap drug of choice, but as you may know, Ibuprofen is not good for kidneys, and I’m now down to my last kidney (lost my right one Monday due to a renal mass, probably not related to the Ibuprofen, but…). As I write, as well as being in pain from the operation, I am almost constantly zapping, and have been since even before the operation. I curse the psychiatric medical establishment for ignoring this disease.

    They’re not stupid, just venal and cowardly-they know this problem exists and for years now, it’s always been the same-the subject is relegated to the backwaters of the Internet-they’re quite comfortable letting it languish there because of their lawsuit fears.

  • Mike March 25, 2015, 8:05 am

    Let me just say.. The article was great but the comments scare me. I’ve seen this on other sites too. I took Effexor 150 mg for about 8 months… 75 mg for 2 months and then 37.5 mg for 3 months. I quit the 37.5 mg cold turkey which everyone said was OK. Including psychiatrist, PCP, and even the pharmacist. I’m on day 5 of no Effexor and the zaps show no sign of slowing down!

    I don’t want to have these for a long time and especially not forever!!! I appreciate the article and the positive attitudes BUT all comments on here are similar to mine. There is no one coming up with a solution. Plus different things affect people differently. I’m scared to death. I don’t want to have a seizure.. Even if it’s not serious the zaps are serious in my life. I might have to quit college or fail out because of them.

    I can’t sleep right and can’t function the way I need to. I despise the psychiatric physicians and the drugs. This is horrible. Effexor helped my depression but then made me gain so much weight and develop high blood pressure! Now im back to square one PLUS these horrible zaps! That’s insane. That’s the thanks I get for paying for doctors visits and stuff. My psychiatrist (who’s never ingested this drug in his life) swore the zaps would only last 48-72 hours. HA! I just can’t believe it.

    It’s something else to stress over and it’s very overwhelming. And scary. I seriously wish you all the best with this and I really apologize that I’m just another flunkie in the crowd with no solution. I used to regret some things in life but now the only thing I regret is taking this harsh chemical. God bless and peace be with all of you. IF ANYONE HAS A SOLUTION PLEASE POST.

  • Michelle. March 27, 2015, 8:05 am

    I’ve been experiencing brain shocks for nearly a decade after being prescribed Effexor XR. I continue taking it, not because it’s helping my depression, but instead to reduce the intolerable amount of brain shocks that occur when attempting to wean off. It’s mind-blowing and incredibly disheartening that there isn’t more substantial information on this in all regards.

  • Eric M. March 27, 2015, 6:21 pm

    I was taking Zoloft for about 4 months and couldn’t deal with the weight gain. My doctor switched me to Wellbutrin because it wouldn’t cause weight gain. The doctor just told me to stop Zoloft and start Wellbutrin. I thought it was strange but; did what she said. I immediately stated having “Brain Zaps” which I thought was from Wellbutrin, but it appear I should have been weaned off of Zoloft. I’m doing great on Wellbutrin in spite of the zaps. Waiting for my Psychiatrist appointment to talk with him about the issue. Right now; I’m willing to deal with the zaps because I feel much better; with no sadness or depression. I do hope that the zaps will subside but; time will tell.

  • Ryan March 27, 2015, 7:41 pm

    I’ve been having these as well intermittently. The first bout was six years ago. I attributed this to the Fluoroquinoline called Cipro, which I had a terrible allergic reaction to. I ended up going to a cardiologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, but no explanation was ever given. The second was three years ago but that time, no medications were present whatsoever.

    Now, I’ve been having them off and on for the past few months. No medication just blindingly high stress. The latest bout which is currently happening today/yesterday has been the worst. It has been happening bad when I try to sleep, just before where I would normally lose consciousness it’s like there’s some disconnect between my body and brain occurs and it feels like my heart just stops, along with a strong electrical shock through my head then I feel disoriented and nauseous.. so here I am 37 hours awake, horribly unbalanced and afraid to drive home from work in this state.

    I am so surprised that there is still no actual medical definition or information out there on this as it seems fairly common. It’s like the medical profession has decided we are all crazy. That is what the psychiatrist decided some years back when I gave him my symptoms and even directed him to a site with people who had experienced similar (AS NOBLE AS IT SEEMS, DON’T EVER EVER DO THIS!). His diagnosis was that I was simply suffering anxiety, that I must have gotten on the internet one night and read about it and magically manifested the symptoms… and that none of this is real but all internet phenomenon. Thanks Doc!

    • GLOOM March 27, 2015, 9:58 pm

      Yep, I’ve had a very similar experience when describing these to a professional… “must be anxiety” is always the response due to no medical documentation of the condition. If they had actually experienced a brain zap, they’d realize that these are a legitimate concern, not an exaggerated or hypochondria-based symptom.

      • Michael Burke June 3, 2015, 3:06 am

        Must be anxiety, what a load of codswollup I am 72 and been getting brain zaps for over 30 years. I have been on numerous anti depressants and Valium for 25 years, I went cold turkey in 1982 and they started with a vengeance. I am not a Psychiatrist but it is simple logic to me, continuous damping down of the brain with the chemicals they formulate to relieve us of our anxieties and depressions results in damage to the actions of our neurotransmitters so that when we go cold turkey or even try to wean ourselves off them our brain starts firing up again but because the pathways are broken it uses more electricity stocked up and blocked trying to get across the neurological pathways resulting in a shock, more so when our brain has been resting for awhile. Mine are very infrequent now as my brain is probably adjusting, though I do take cod liver oil every day, plus lots of Honey lemon and limes in a large cup of tea.

      • Tina August 12, 2016, 6:25 pm

        Hello Gloom, Thanks for the info and discussion here. I’ve never had problems with depression or anxiety, so when I started getting these symptoms—which I’ve just learned seem very much like SSRI withdrawal—no doctors assumed that my problems were caused by anxiety. I was lucky in this regard. I imagine that if you do have anxiety in your medical record, it would be natural for doctors to assume that your symptoms are due to anxiety or some such thing.

        These symptoms are very strange and hard to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced them. But so is everything. If you tried to describe the scent of a rose to someone who’d never experienced it, you’d have a difficult time of it! I think anyone reading this should be cautious about automatically assuming the problem is anxiety or depression, even if you do have these problems.

        If you’re withdrawing from meds and you think this is the culprit, you still might want to get a full workup to rule out other possibilities, especially if you feel these symptoms are going on for too long. I’ve had the full workup, and nothing dangerous came up. Which is good, but also frustrating. I’d like to know what’s going on. I started out with lightheadedness which became constant, then I started getting the brain zaps (I called them “mild electric shocks”) which also became constant.

        During extreme episodes, I’d get muscle twitches, brain fog, extreme fatigue and sensations too bizarre to describe in a comments section. Speaking of which, sorry about the onslaught of commenting from me…I’m hoping someone out there has found some answers.

  • Letta March 29, 2015, 11:47 pm

    I have been taking sertraline 50 mgs for 2 years due to depression brought on by an MI aged 46. I have missed 4 days due to forgetting to hand in My repeat prescription and pharmacy closed for weekend. My brain zaps normally come on within 2 days of missed sertraline. I tend to describe my zaps as my brain bouncing around inside my skull. Upon walking, standing. Looking to the side. Also anger sets it off too. I’m hoping to wean myself off it within the next few months.

  • Sur March 30, 2015, 9:56 pm

    My zaps are not due to discontinuing meds. I take an antidepressant that controls them.

  • Stephanie April 1, 2015, 5:29 pm

    I recently stopped taking Zoloft cold turkey (bad idea I know) and I have been having severe brain zaps. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to pass out. Hopefully they will subside soon because it’s really taking a toll. But the zoloft induced suicidal and homicidal ideations. So I think I’d rather deal with these honestly.

  • Danny April 3, 2015, 10:56 pm

    I am so glad to have found this site! I have been pretty forgetful with taking my anti d’s in the morning every day and when I don’t, I get these zaps. They are never painful, but they are very very odd, and even harder to explain to someone. I’ll take the meds now when I’m supposed to and when it’s time to stop, do it slowly. Cheers guys. -D

  • Cheryl April 4, 2015, 4:00 am

    I had brain zaps when I went off of Paxil about 15 years ago. I take my current meds as I should. I am finding that when I get sick, such as a cold etc., I get them. All of these comments relate directly to medication, while mine is illness related. Thoughts?

  • Suzie April 9, 2015, 5:28 am

    I started getting brain zaps while playing Mahjongg on the iPad. Absolutely addicted to it, I was. Was on the computer or iPad 12-14 hours/day. Only got the zaps at first when on the iPad. After a couple months, started getting them all the time. Relieved to find other people experiencing the same symptoms-doctors seem flummoxed. Afraid I was having seizures, but zaps is definitely it! Was on Effexor for 3 months 10 yrs ago, cut dose in half for a week, then went cold turkey because it made me fat, lazy, & ditsy, & I decided to work to heal myself from within. Hoping I can cure the Zaps with rest & nature. No more computer games for me. Thanks to all of you for sharing.

  • Sarah April 9, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I first had these electrical shudders through my spine when I had a strong manic depressive episode–not while on any med. Years later I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome and all hell broke out in my brain–the fireworks, the tinnitus, occasional loud noises in my head, and every night when I was trying to relax into sleep, an involuntary shake of my head and a scary moment that jolted me awake because it felt like my body’s systems had suddenly stopped.

    Years went by and I got better. One by one the symptoms subsided. The last one–the involuntary head shake also disappeared. Yay! Recently, though, as I am dropping off to sleep, or if I have stayed up too late, I have a mild brain zap, from right to left over the top of my brain. I associate it with being overtired. Why it has begun again I have no idea. I have been taking lots of vitamins and supplements for brain support – fish oil, turmeric, resveratrol, alpha lipoid acid, magnesium–because of having tremors following a bout of traveler’s diarrhea. The tremors went away.

    I was feeling good, but the nightly zap began and in the last six months I have had two episodes where my brain completely failed to record something in short-term memory. A recent study showed that CFS patients have diminished white matter in their brains. When I first got sick 30 years ago I feared for my brain. Ironically, I am now feeling mentally sharper than I have in decades, but something seems to be changing in my brain. At 62, with a long history of CFS, I worry that the results in my brain are beginning to show. Alas.

  • ben smith April 10, 2015, 5:44 pm

    I was on sertraline a couple of years ago for a while then suddenly went cold turkey. At first I couldn’t understand what and why I was feeling these electric shocks in my head but I soon managed to work out it happened whenever I moved my eyes to the left or right. Interestingly I am now on St John’s Wort and experiencing the same sensations. The difference to sertraline however is I am still on st John’s wort. Another key difference is it is not triggered by eye movements and happens sporadically.

  • Myka April 11, 2015, 6:55 pm

    Have experience SEVERE brain zaps while discontinuing my Paxil cold turkey…it was AWFUL!!! Right now I am on day 12 of methadone maintenance detoxing/withdrawal and am experiencing brain zaps again for the second time in my life EVER and its just as bad I remember them. No ever told me you could get brain zaps from methadone withdrawal!

  • Diane April 11, 2015, 7:09 pm

    I quit klonopin cold turkey about 2 1/2 years ago and I continue to have “brain zaps” and nausea. The brain zaps are not painful and it’s more of an annoyance than anything but the nausea really sucks. I’m going to start taking B12 and fish oil to see if it helps…

  • Jeff Green April 14, 2015, 6:22 pm

    I have had brain zaps for over 20 years. I have not been on any medication for ten or fifteen years, so at least for me the hope they will subside is unfortunately not true. Over the course of years they were less pronounced or more, and now in the past couple years worse than ever. They mostly happen when I lay down to sleep or am very tired. As soon as I close my eyes they start, over and over. Trying to sleep while being punched in the head by these severe blasts can be very disheartening indeed. I have pretty much given up hope anything will ever make them better. At times I suspect maybe it is more than brain zaps, but so far no doctor knows what in the world I am talking about.

    My current one calls them migraines. I do sometimes have other symptoms like white flashing lights, even when awake. My brain zaps are very hard ones that slam into my head. Though I am not now on any depression meds, there was a long period in my life when I was on them, a whole mess of them one after the other (over the course of time), including combinations, as doctors sought to treat my severe OCD. I was on every major one existing then. It does not seem that my particular struggle with it will be solved, I wish I could find something that at least could lessen the severity.

  • Kathy April 15, 2015, 4:06 am

    I started getting brain zaps when I was prescribed Xyrem for narcolepsy close to a year ago. It was very scary, and I thought I was having seizures. Both my sleep doctor and the Xyrem pharmacy insisted that they couldn’t possibly be from the Xyrem. They said “it’s not a documented side effect.” I quit Xyrem within a couple days of the brain zaps starting, but I am still having them now almost a year later. It seems to happen most when I am waking up in the morning, or if I try to take a nap. They are often accompanied by a headache. Has anyone else on Xyrem ever experienced this?

  • VJ April 15, 2015, 4:10 pm

    I took both trazodone and Prozac for a very long time (10+ years). I very, very slowly tapered off trazodone and still had the zaps for weeks. They finally went away, and then I decided to go off Prozac (fluoxetine). I quit that cold turkey. I was fine for a couple weeks, but then the zapping started. Am currently going through it now and it is worse in the morning and as I am active I don’t notice it as much toward the end of the day, but it’s still there.

    The restless leg feeling has been more also, which I deal with by taking homeopathic Hylands for restless leg, which has always helped. I hate this feeling. Everytime I dart my eyes back and forth it feels like they have electrodes attached to them that zap me every time I do it. It’s nauseating and very frustrating that it’s still going on. I can’t wait for it all to be over and my brain to be back to normal…if there is such a thing. Horrible feeling. Will never go on an SSRI again.

  • Anonymous April 16, 2015, 2:17 am

    I’m relieved that I found this site, and I feel like a huge weight as been liften off my shoulders. I kept thinking, “oh my god what is this? is it harmful?” and to find this site and know that it doesn’t cause damage is a HUGE relief. :)

    Although, with mine, they are very painful and its like an electrical wave that starts in my head and sometimes goes down my back and legs. It all lasts less then 10 seconds, but it only happens when I try to fall asleep. Can “Brain Zaps” cause any different symptoms of its own? e.g headaches, dizziness, light headed, and feeling very off?

    Thank you for the very informative and helpful article!

    • maria April 22, 2015, 4:49 pm

      This was a really good article on brain zaps, thank you! I am quite familiar with the BZs. I had been on antidepressants off and on for 20 years. I currently tapered off Cymbalta over a 9 month period. I experienced NO brain zaps. Tapering is the key when getting off these nasty meds. I feel really bad for everyone experiencing withdrawal symptoms. I went thru some really crappy ones myself. I had nausea, ibs, muscle aches and pains flu-like symptoms, uti, bouts with anxiety and crying. The list goes on :(.

      The best advice I can give to anyone is, know that it will end and there isn’t anything permanently wrong with you. Take a multi-vitamin and Omega 3, meditate, practice deep breathing, go for walks. Withdrawing from these nasty poisons will wreak physical and mental havoc but you won’t die from it. I will never allow myself to get sucked into the antidepressant rollercoaster again. Our bodies aren’t meant to have these toxins in our systems.

  • Sophie April 18, 2015, 9:59 am

    I’m having brain zaps right now having forgotten to renew my prescription for venlafaxine yesterday. I’ve missed three doses, yesterday’s and this mornings. Zaps are getting worse. Headache, electric current running throughout my body especially strong in head and neck. Thank you so much for this article, I was worried something terrible was happening to me. My partner is on the way to the chemist now to get my meds for me.

  • Darrell April 27, 2015, 10:29 pm

    Thank goodness… Thought I had a brain tumor for a minute. Cold turkey quit zoloft… been over a week now. Hope it ends soon. :(

  • Angela Sabino April 27, 2015, 11:14 pm

    These shocks have plagued me for many years. I wish mine only involved my brain. I feel my shocks in my brain, face, chest, down both arms into my hands and feet. They do not feel nearly as strong in my feet. Those symptoms are coupled with dizziness and nausea. This nausea hangs around for several hours after the shocks subside. These experiences are horrible. :(

  • Riley Prime April 28, 2015, 8:31 pm

    I’ve taken several of the drugs mentioned on this site, over a period of 10 years. When I first tapered off and stopped I had brain zaps every few seconds, also triggered when moving my eyes back and forth. They have reduced in frequency but I still get them 10 years after stopping SSRI’s. When I first reported this to my physician he had never heard of such a thing. Now it is finally being explored. My personal opinion – these drugs damaged my brain.

  • Staci April 29, 2015, 6:03 pm

    I have been experiencing brain zaps on and off over the past 4 months or so. However, I am not, nor have I ever, taken any kind of antidepressants or other drug mentioned. I do take 100mg thyroid medication and 4000 iu vitamin D daily. I don’t understand why I am getting them!

    • jennifer May 15, 2015, 1:18 am

      I have been having the same issue. I’m not on any antidepressants either, but do take thyroid medication as well. Mine is 125mg.

  • Dave in Seattle April 30, 2015, 5:54 pm

    I first started experiencing these head zaps in 1999. My primary care doctor sent me to a specialist, and after his testing he told me I had anxiety. He put me on a medication called Celexa. This took care of the problem for quite some time but after a while the head zaps came back. Then he added another drug called buspar. That also seem to help for about a year. I never really paid much attention to the short bout of attacks that came after that for about three years. Then after a while they returned and were very strong.

    I change doctors and they continue to put me on the same medication, until I experienced a small and very slight stroke and then my whole life changed. The doctor I’m working with now sent me to several other people to try to figure out what is causing these and I explained to him that it was over anxiety however you did not understand how I came to that conclusion. It seems to me like I was kicked to the curb until I came across this posting.

    Now I thoroughly understand that not all doctors agree with each other. I am going to search out a doctor who deals in mental health, who may help me get through this anxiety and put me on the right medication needed to help slow down some of these annoying electrical shocks in my brain. Thank you for this wonderful posting that has helped me understand and realize that I have not gone to the proper people to address this issue.

  • Chris Pants May 3, 2015, 2:13 pm

    Wow, I didn’t know this existed. I experience “brain zaps” when I see little girls do cute things. Probably why I couldn’t watch Shirley Temple movies. I have experienced them also when little boys do cute things it’s just more prevalent with girls. This is also helpful in my consideration of coming off of Paxil.

  • Rex from Oz May 3, 2015, 10:06 pm

    Good to find this site. I keep getting little zaps on both sides of my head just above or behind the top of my ears. They’re not painful, just a bit uncomfortable and they come and go in a flash. However I’m not on any drugs and never have been. Might pay a visit to the local Doc and see what they have to say.

  • l jones May 6, 2015, 2:06 am

    I too am glad to have found this site. I’ve been on effexor xr (175mg) for about 9 years. I’ve never had a problem, but in the past year I’ve noticed the brain zaps occurring off and on. They appear to get worse when I’m down or stressed. They get worse when I drink coffee too. I notice they occur when my eyes move side to side, and are especially bad while I’m shaving… I’m guessing because of needing to shift my eyes a lot. This is happening without a change in dosage, so I’m very concerned that being on this medicine for so long is having a detrimental physical effect on my brain.

  • Bar May 7, 2015, 1:13 am

    Thanks for this great info. I thought I may have missed a few doses of Wellbutrin and then started getting these awful brain zaps. I feel much better now knowing it’s most likely not a brain tumor!

  • Kat May 11, 2015, 12:48 pm

    Coming of venlafaxine. These zaps drive me nuts.

  • Elizabeth May 12, 2015, 6:18 am

    I have not been on antidepressant tabs. Got a bad brain zap and wanted to pass out, followed by nausea and then dizziness. I lied down, but still feel lightheaded.

  • Frank May 12, 2015, 7:55 pm

    Started having seizures 8 years ago, Kepra stopped the Epilepsy but I had mood trouble, GP put me on 40mg of Celexa, Progressively became numb in Male parts, Decided I’ll try tapering off to get back my feeling of being a Man, cut the dose to 20mg for a month, then 20mg every other day, then off completely. I’m glad to say that was the ED problem and I’m coping with mood since now I am on Depakote for the epilepsy, but brain Zaps (Shivers) have been bad. At first the sensation of Flu (body temp OK) I would explain it to my Neurologist as a slinky sound in my head when I moved my eyes side to side.

    I’ve read on another site that the sensation of a Phantom being passing through you, was close to what I was feeling, The sound was similar to the Alien space ship sound from Robinson Caruso in Space. I’m happy to say now on the 3rd week free of the celexa I’m getting better! I’m feeling up beat that this is going to go away 100%. I just wish the Dr. would take this Syndrome more seriously, my son is just finishing up school in the field and he is listening to me rather intensely. Good luck to you all. -Frank

  • Chubaloo May 16, 2015, 10:04 am

    Hi all, I found this page after trying to find the way to describe the feelings in my head for the past week, Brain Zaps sum up this highly unsettling, and at times outright scary feeling perfectly. Unlike most others on this site, I don’t have a history of depression and I have never been on any sort of medication other than antibiotics now and again, I do however have a history of alcohol abuse which I withdrew from around 6 months ago (admittedly I have 4 or so beers a week now, as opposed to the 16 per night i used to consume), and I was partial to taking Ecstasy (MDMA) for a few years during my misspent youth.

    My brain zaps started pretty much a week ago to this day, I was sat at my computer and I had a feeling of an immense electricity jolt just exploding in my brain starting from my upper neck and dissipating through, and across my brain in less than a second. Whilst I have had this sensation (albeit much much milder) in the past (maybe 4 or 5 times a year at most), this Zap really took be back, to the point where I had to lay down for about an hour to compose myself. It actually reminded me of an experience that I had around 10 years ago after a particularly heavy weekend involving MDMA where it pretty much felt like my brain just blew out and rebooted, like everything was reset.

    Since this mega zap, I haven’t been myself at all throughout the week that has past, I feel like I have mild vertigo, almost like a feeling that I am very slightly hungover and I have stepped off a boat. I feel detached from my head like I am sometimes looking through the eyes of someone else (again mild), and the feeling of a slight pressure at the base of my skull at the back of my head. I’m pretty much a social person, I have spoken at industry conferences etc, but lately I have been getting anxious when I go out in public, and I am finding it difficult to look people in the eye when I am talking to them etc.

    Although alarming and unsettling, I can pretty much power through this, and anxiousness and ‘panic attacks’ are well know symptoms of alcohol withdrawal so I am pegging it down to that. Going back to the brain zaps though, my usual day for the past week has consisted of waking up and feeling fine, I jump on my computer for an hour or so and that’s when the feeling of mild vertigo/stepping off a boat begins, if I spend too much time in front of the computer then it seems to increase the frequency of the brain zaps which are happening 15+ times per day now, but have dropped off in intensity as the week has progressed.

    I certainly don’t think the computer monitor is the cause of the issue, but I am almost certain that it increases the rate of zaps with prolonged use. One thing that I had noticed, is that when I have a zap, my body seems to kick into fight or flight mode, it’s like it doesn’t know what to do and is waiting for me to ‘act’ upon the zap. I have found that applying pressure to the back of my neck at the base of my skull, and then running my fingers down either side of my spine (again, base of the skull, upper neck) with a hard massage like pressure applied seems to have a calming effect.

    After a few minutes of feeling a little light in my extremities I seem to return to normal bar the sensation of still feeling like I have just stepped off a boat. I’ve been to the doctor and to no surprise to anybody my blood work is completely normal, and the ECG in regards to my heart didn’t show any issue either. I am scheduled to see a neurologist in a few days so I shall report back then, I have also got some Vit B12/Vit D, and Omega oils to see if they can take the edge off it.

    I have a feeling that most of this is happening to me personally due to the alcohol withdrawal, possible connected to PAWS as it has been 6 months since I massively decreased the amount I drink. In the mean time it just seems like something that I have to deal with each day. Probably not a lot of help to anyone, but I figured I’d type my stuff out above in case it helps someone find this page, whilst this feeling is highly unsettling, at least there is a sort of security in knowing that I’m not the only person on the planet that is feeling like this. Frank’s description (above) of a phantom or ghost like feeling passing through your head is also an extremely apt description in my case.

  • Sean Smith May 17, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I’ve been on Risperidone 3mg and 112.5mg Venlafaxine (Effexor) Brain Zaps drive me crazy. Thick head for ages, then zap zappety zap. Dangerous tablets to take as my physical health has suffered tremendously.

  • Rob May 17, 2015, 7:25 pm

    After taking it for two and a half years I’m in the tapered withdrawal process from sertraline (altruline 10mg) which consisted of reducing the dose by half each week, and am on my first week drug free. All through the process I’ve been having zaps but this last week they have increased to some 5 or 6 per hour all through the day. I find some comfort in reading they should eventually subside. To reduce them I take Tylenol which seems to have some effect. At least my body doesn’t hurt that much. Hope this helps…

  • Odonata May 18, 2015, 2:41 am

    I started experiencing zaps to my head, brain zaps, while meditating and the first one happened just before I experienced my first vivid meditative vision. I have never experienced them while falling asleep or waking from sleep, only while awake, during meditation, usually always before the vivid meditative visions start. They feel like a lightning bolt strike entering down to the crown of my head and into my brain. The first time it happened it startled me as it was loud and made me feel a sense of nothingness, nonexistence, for just that moment of the strike.

    Ever since that first time of this happening it has happened regularly only during meditation for the past three years. I had always wondered what caused the brain zaps to happen and so happy knowing I’m not alone. I also am able to cause a rumbling sound within my head that I have total control over the volume of it whether loud or quietly or anywhere in between as well as being able to control whether I make it happen only on the right side, the left side, or both sides simultaneously.

    I can control this and keep it going for as long as I wish. It has the sound of rolling thunder which is strange because I have those lightning bolts to my brain. That is something I found I could do as a child. I actually found, through a Google search, that there are others that experience the head Thunder but most only have it happen while yawning, others can make it happen at will but not independently in each side and can only keep it going for up to 10-15 seconds. It’s said that less than 2% of the population are capable of the independent on each side but again only 10-15 second durations.

    I am one of the only ones that has control over the volume as well as being able to keep it going for as long as I wish. I can make it a nice C tone which I do at times to aid myself into my meditative visions. I am able to keep the visions going as long as I keep my mind silent without thought because as soon as you “see” something and focus on its color or any kind of thought at all about what you are seeing the visions abruptly stop.

    • Pam Hubbard May 1, 2016, 5:05 am

      I’ve been taking Zoloft for anxiety attacks for about 20 years. I’ve never heard of brain zaps until I found this informative place. Mine, however, are very wonderful. One person here described them as euphoria. That’s as close as I can get to describe the sensations. But your speaking of visions is what makes me reply.

      I’ve had one vision during a brain zap. I closed my eyes and clearly saw a working set of vessels which I believe to have been the trigeminal/cranial complex. It was in black & white but the vessels all were pumping or moving in concert and tightly held together to each other. I think this is the area below the skull at the neck some have been referring to here.

      Anyway, as you said, I clearly saw the living vessels &/or nerves active and moving in sync and then as if in a tunnel, the vessels moved quickly away from my brain-sight, getting smaller and smaller until they vanished! This happened after a long flight. I do have trigeminal neuritis which is how I know exactly where this nerve is in the head/neck zone.

      I am positive this nerve is involved when I read the other posts here. I hope some researcher reads all these posts. They are pretty amazing. Thanks much :)

  • Dana May 23, 2015, 11:15 am

    I’ve been experiencing brain zaps with the discontinuation of narcotic pain medication. I’ve been subscribed these medications for the past ten plus years. I recently quit taking a newly prescribed medication because of the way it made me feel. With the discontinuation they have been extremely harsh. I’m not on any antidepressants. Do you think adding an antidepressant at this point would take the brain zaps away?

    These brain zaps are very debilitating. They’re causing migraine headaches vertigo insomnia confusion and worry. with the brain zaps being caused by a different medication would this be a more serious problem? Has brain zaps been recorded as a symptom side effect of discontinuation of pain medication? Is there a certain point that brain zaps would cause you to go to the hospital.

  • dean May 24, 2015, 8:02 pm

    I awoke from a nightmare which I can remember every detail of at 2:04 a.m and did not want to go back to sleep for fear of the nightmare returning. Four minutes later I felt as if there was a static electrical field tingling around my buttocks. it moved down to my legs and then up to my thorax, then stopped. Four minutes later the same thing happened, then another four minutes passed and it happened again, only weaker.

    Ten minutes later there was a very weak repetition. Then I heard my dogs barking and got up to go out and make them stop. At that time I went to the bathroom to look at myself in the mirror and see if my pupils were normal, which they were. I went back to bed and slept another seven hours with a less dramatic but memorable dream. I was afraid when it was happening because my father had told me that he had felt a tingling on his scalp when he had his stroke which left him hemiplegic, but I did not wake up my wife to take me to the hospital.

    I have taken vitamin c and baby aspirin and 40 mg atorvastatin for the last year and a half, and am not stressed. I had a few drinks in the evening before the event, as usual. I have never had the wandering electrical field sensation before. It is a very strong sensation, lasts about ten seconds, with no discomfort or other affects once it has passed. The sensation stopped at my thorax and did not go to up to my head.

    I was glad to see that other people have the sensation throughout the entire body and not just the brain. My shocks (more like the static electrical effect) each began at the buttocks, left that area moving down to the legs, left that area and stopped at my thorax. I will post again if it reoccurs.

  • Niki May 26, 2015, 9:36 am

    I have been experiencing ‘brain zaps’ occasionally for a few years now, they feel and sound like loud electric shocks. The only medication I am on is HRT. They always occur during the first couple of hours sleep at night, and are accompanied by a bright flash of light during which I see a zig zag pattern momentarily. I am sure an outside noise causes my sleep to be suddenly broken causing this sensation. I feel no pain, dizziness or nausea, and just go back to sleep. Occasionally I have experienced this more than once in one night. Does anyone else experience the flash of light?

    • hummerbird June 5, 2015, 10:33 am

      The zigzag lights and flashing lights are a sign of what they call a ‘silent migraine’. I used to get them a lot and eventually they caused full blown migraines. I eventually found out I had labyrinthitis in my right ear which was causing the tinnitis, brain zaps, vertigo, lightheadness, the looking back and forth with my eyes would sometimes start what is called nystagmus. At that time I’d have to take migraine meds. It was later when I saw ENT she put me on Flonase (which you can now get over the counter) and after a couple of months of that, things started to settle down. I guess it’s the steriods in the Flonase that takes down the inflammation of the inner ear. Surprisingly my migraines went away!?! Hugs and health, hummerbird.

  • Amy May 27, 2015, 8:58 pm

    Switching from genetic paxil to genetic cymbalta. I’ve experienced these zaps with a missed dose in the past. I changed from paxil to cymbalta just over a week ago. Today the zaps hit me. I’m very tired today so I think that might be the instigator. Hoping a better sleep will make tomorrow better. It really is alarming, but I’ve survived them in the past and I know I’ll survive them again. Good luck with finding peace of mind everyone.

  • Mark May 28, 2015, 10:05 pm

    Thank you everyone who has posted on this and other websites. Having been on Sertraline for over 6 months I made the big mistake of telling my GP that I did not think they were working. I was told to come off them (150mg) straight away and go on to something else. Boy has it messed up my head. No mention of such possible withdrawal symptoms so here I was, already predisposed to stress, now thinking I had a tumor or something. I now realize that this is to go on for several weeks or months but at least I can stop stressing about it. Thank you everyone and best of luck. What a pity so many of us are having to suffer unnecessarily.

  • Janet May 31, 2015, 9:56 pm

    I have had exactly these for years. Call them the “zip zaps”. I finally found a doctor who doesn’t trivialise these and actually believes me! It was a relief to discover this article if only because so many other people experience the same thing! Mine also started due to antidepressants. Unfortunately now affecting my balance and causing some tremors too. What I need to know is why is nobody researching this if it’s so common? What are these medications doing to us long term?

  • Chea June 6, 2015, 2:38 am

    I’ve been on citalopram 20 mg for about three months now and recently decided that I no longer want antidepressants in my body. I quit cold turkey and immediately felt what I now know to be called brain zaps. This article was so helpful alerting me that I was not alone or going crazy. It is a real feeling that I had trouble pinpointing for myself. Sometimes you feel its mind over matter, but in this case, your whole body wants to succumb to the prickly shock like feeling. Only time will heal all, but I suggest tapering as once you start to feel this way, you do not want to go back and start over.

  • MTutein June 7, 2015, 2:05 am

    I must say that I am relieved to find that I am not alone regarding recent episodes of “brain zaps.” HOWEVER…I differ from most of you since I was NOT using antidepressants, or discontinuing any medication. In October 2014, while playing an online game, I experienced a sharp pain/zap sensation, which was so intense that I had to hold my head and close my eyes. This lasted a few minutes and was the first time. The CAT Scan was good.

    In May of 2015, it began happening again, although not terribly intense at first. The intensity and frequency grew gradually as I stressed over the possibility of an aneurysm. Two trips to the E.R. and I was prescribed Prednisone steroids, which seems to help lessen the severity and the frequency, but has not eliminated these electric shock sensations. This is so debilitating that it has altered my ability to sleep since oftentimes during episodes, I am unable to lie down without the spinning sensations and it has even awakened me out of my sleep.

    And, with what seems like vertigo, at times I have difficulty walking and can’t drive. One doctor said it’s vertigo and that I may have crystals forming in my inner ear. The E.R. doctor said she found inflammation of the temporal arteries. The Rheumatologist said I may have Temporal Arteritis, but the Ophthalmologist argued strongly with her over the phone that it is NOT Temporal Arteritis since I had only one of the indicators.

    Now they want to perform a biopsy and remove a section of the artery on both sides of my temples to examine for Temporal Arteritis, but I’ve decided to reject the surgery, since they indicated the risk of nicking the nerve, which could result in permanent damage or possibility of stroke. The medications I was taking at the time of the first and subsequent incident’s of brain zaps was:
    a) Hydrochlorothiazide (blood pressure)
    b) Gabapentin (for pain)
    c) Meloxicam (arthritis and nerve pain).
    d) Prior to the Gabapentin and Meloxicam, I took Ibuprofen for my pain.

    Shortly after learning that both Gabapentin, which is an anticonvulsant drug for epileptic seizures, and Meloxicam can cause dizziness, I immediately discontinued taking them, but the symptoms persist. In lieu of the fact that I am experiencing these “brain zaps,” even though I was not taking antidepressants or discontinuing any medications, I would like to hear from anyone else in the same or similar circumstance.

    I would also like to thank “hummerbird” for her contribution, which are ALL the same symptoms I have had (including bronchitis in Dec 2014, which can increase the risk for Labyrinthitis). The doctors have not taken my mention of the periodic bright flashes of light at the outer edge of my left eye or the recently diagnosed tinnitus into consideration…YET! And I didn’t think to mention the involuntary rapid-eye movements, which have also taken place, since I didn’t think to include that.

    But instead of allowing a biopsy, I will try the ENT doctor first and report back any new information. Thank you all for taking time to share and may God bless and heal you all soon.

  • Seth June 9, 2015, 12:21 am

    I want to contribute with my history. At my twenties I had mild brain zaps occurring when my fewer temperature was rising, not when it was already high. The zaps where triggered, not only by side to side moment of my eyes, but also by certain thoughts, like an unknown behind your back, or picturing unpleasant pictures in your mind, even just for a fraction of a second.

    At my forties, I tried some meds for depression, and narcolepsy. Don’t remember the meds I was on and off. But now zaps caused by withdrawal where more severe, and was cured by low dose of amphetamine 15 mg. (Discovered by coincidence). Later (no nacolepsy detected), I was on 150 mg Effexor per day for 15 years. I did some cold turkey breaks for months or a year, of my own, without any problem, (did not know there should be any).

    The last break was after 8 years of Effexor usage. Last year I (my doctor), replaced Effexor with Woxra, and did the Effexor withdrawal in two weeks. This time, after 15 years on Effexor, I got serious brain zaps. I feared getting a seizure at my job. I discovered at that time (like others in this forum) that just a little dose like 5-10 mg Effexor removed all brain zaps. After this try we got back to Effexor. Haven’t been doing drugs or excessive alcohol. Regards. -Seth

    • Fred May 31, 2016, 9:05 pm

      What is Woxra?

  • phalta03 June 9, 2015, 4:31 pm

    I have been on 100 mg of Zoloft for about 2 years. Suddenly out of no where about 3 months ago,( 2/15) I began experiencing brain zaps which started just every now and then and accelerated to every single day from early am to hours after taking the Zoloft. My Dr. increased it to 150 mg QD which helped for about a week. I am now suffering daily with these zaps to my head, shoulders and arms every time I move. I am fed up with it. The Dr. thinks it’s anxiety related, but I am not anxious. I am on the Zoloft for legitimate life experiences which are causing depression, not anxiety.

  • Lisa June 9, 2015, 6:53 pm

    Glad I found out what this was. I don’t have them often — once a week if that. I’m not coming off medication but I am on Lexapro for anxiety and depression. I guess it’s a side effect of the medication. I’m glad to know though that I’m not in danger.

  • Mike June 10, 2015, 3:50 am

    I ended up with a terrible dose of the influenza A right at the same time I quit my 5mg of Lexapro. Anyway, my doctor prescribed me a small dose of 25mg Prednisolone for 5 days for the exacerbation of my Asthma. I had horrific brain zaps but the moment I took the short course of Prednisolone they 100% stopped and I have not had a single one since. I call it a miracle cure.

    • Fred May 31, 2016, 9:06 pm

      What was the exact course of the Prednisolone?

  • Becky June 11, 2015, 12:20 pm

    God bless your hearts, am going through the zaps, will endure them and never get back on antidepressants again, very dangerous and doctors really push you to be on them.

  • Tim Eason June 13, 2015, 1:43 am

    Such a helpful article! I’ve experienced brain zaps on and off since the mid-2000’s when I started treatment for depression due to other health problems. As I was jerked from one med to another these zaps would occur. Not knowing how to explain them I called them “bleep-bleeps” because of the sound some people experience with the zaps.

    When trying to describe them to various doctors, no one could tell me what they were, why they were happening or what I could do about it. It simply was put in the category of “idiopathic” with the rest of my problems. I’ve been through benzo withdrawals and opiate withdrawals. I’m not sure what’s worse, but SSRI withdrawals are pretty bad. I’m currently withdrawing from Cymbalta for the second time. I stopped Cymbalta (duloxetine) this time mainly because of cost (thanks, Obama) and pretty bad tinnitus.

    I tapered as much as possible, even halving the dosage by taking out half of the meds out of the capsules. I’ve been completely off for several days now and the zaps are just miserable. Cymbalta does not come in enough of a variety of dosages for proper tapering. Lilly, the manufacturer, knows this as does the FDA as indicated in a report that describes “Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome”, found here: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Advisor…/UCM172866.pdf. To date, Lilly hasn’t done anything about it.

    Having gone through this twice now, I highly recommend to *stay away from Cymbalta*. This article is the BEST description of the symptoms and causes of brain zaps that I’ve ever read. It’s both informative and encouraging. Bravo, GLOOM! And thanks!

  • michelle June 13, 2015, 2:51 am

    So glad I looked this up. I was beginning to get extremely worried for my mental health. These zaps are awful. Time to be more responsible taking my medication!

  • Grayson June 13, 2015, 8:50 pm

    I get these x 1 year and have never been on SSRIs or abused MDMA. Docs think I have an anxiety disorder. I went along with that for awhile, but now I believe it is organic. It’s super frustrating as I get very few nights of decent sleep. I’m doing about 3600 mg of fish oil. I will try the b-12 this week. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

    • crystal Johnson December 25, 2015, 9:27 am

      I just got off celexa. I’m getting horrible zaps. I get dizzy and almost fall over when it happens. I also feel nauseous and I’m taking supplements. Any other advice? It’s so frustrating!

  • Kelley June 15, 2015, 5:11 am

    I’m not going off any meds. I take Bupropion SR once a day. I dont get scared easy, but when I had the “zap” the first time, it was not like any dizzy spell i ever had, although the zap is followed by a regular dizzy spell. I was very scared. I don’t understand why I would be getting them. I am getting one every four days or so. I have been on the Bupropion a couple months. I do have job anxiety, but I’m switching jobs. Most of the times I’ve had the zap, I wasn’t feeling anxious. I wonder what ELSE could cause them. I have to say, it’s nice to come here and read that this is happening to others, I’m not alone. Feedback welcome.

  • Judi June 20, 2015, 2:01 pm

    I have had brain zaps since I was a child whenever I had a fever. The higher the fever the more severe the zaps. When I took fever reducers, the zaps lessened. This could help with the zaps from medication withdrawal. I am now on Cymbalta which I want to decrease in dosage. I know I’ll get the zaps because I’ve had them before when weaning off other meds or if I forget a dosage. I’ll try the Tylenol, B12 and increase the omega-3. So glad to find this site. Most doctors have never heard of this and look at you like your off kilter!

  • Rose June 22, 2015, 7:51 pm

    I’ve been experiencing these brain zaps for nearly 2 weeks now since coming off citalopram but they’re more of a “body zap”. I feel the “electrical current” in my arms, chest and legs rather than my head. They’re really uncomfortable and are worse when I walk. Is this normal to feel it in my body rather than my head which seems more common? the current can also affect my pulse and quickens my heart for the duration of the zaps.

  • Christine June 23, 2015, 11:16 am

    Has anyone noticed the onset of these zaps after using Cefaly for migraine? My pulsating zaps have been going on for five days 24/7 now and driving me crazy. It follows a week of trying Cefaly and I wonder if there is a connection?

  • GN June 23, 2015, 7:51 pm

    Thank you for this article!! I knew there was something going on and I knew it was from the medication. But to have it confirmed by other people’s experience is such a relief! When we are on anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication we keep these type of things to ourselves for fear of others saying “it’s all in your head”. But these brain zaps are real. I can compare them to the electric shock machine at the arcade that have two handles and shocks you until you let go….just like that but milder. For me it was like shivers on the brain, eyelids, tongue, hands. Strong and fast throughout the day. It almost makes me pause and gasp for air. It can be a little scary.

  • kris June 24, 2015, 6:50 am

    My bf is coming off crystal meth after a few months of constant use. Today day 1. He is scared cause last time he recalls the brain zaps and how terrible they were. I have not found any info on this with other meth users. He takes nothing else. I wonder if taking a Prozac which he should be on anyways would help. Does anyone know anyone else who experienced this with meth withdrawal?

  • Carissa June 25, 2015, 2:36 am

    I did a week taper off of 20mg Lexapro that I had been taking for 3 years to switch to welbutrin (taking one every other day). I would relate what I feel to being shocked every so often. I definitely think it is worse when I turn my eyes, when I am tired and when I am stressed. Sometimes it’s so bad I feel like I will pass out. My sleep patterns are also very disrupted. Im hoping it will go away soon but after 2 weeks of this I’m pretty frustrated. I do take an omega 3 supplement already but maybe I will try the B12. Glad to know it is not a sign of something more serious through.

  • Milan June 25, 2015, 2:59 pm

    Most everyone seems to be experiencing this after taking antidepressants, however I have never taken any. They don’t happen often I suppose but when they do I usually get multiple, lasting from 5 minutes to an hour. Would this suggest I’m having a problem producing serotonin? I a 21 year old male, never had seizures however they are in the family. Have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, and OCD. May have an undiagnosed anxiety/depressive disorder. Never gotten that checked out. Any ideas? Good article though, it’s exactly what I’m experiencing.

    • Tina August 12, 2016, 12:02 am

      My situation is similar. My symptoms (lightheadedness, brain zaps, muscle twitches, tinnitus, fatigue and others) were not caused by SSRI withdrawal. In fact, I wasn’t on any medication when my symptoms started. I’ve done the full workup. Neurologists, cardiologists, even repeat tests at Mayo Clinic. Spinal taps, MRIs, you name it. No answer.

      It’s been almost two years now since the symptoms began, and after seeing the neurologist a few times, he gave me Modafinil and later Clonazepam. The first is for fatigue, often given to people with narcolepsy. Both meds helped a great deal. The Modafinil was surprising. Though it was meant to help only with fatigue, actually helped with the brain zaps for a while. It wears off in the afternoon, then I take the Clonazepam (a benzodiazepine).

      Modafinil is similar enough to medications for ADHD that I wonder if this might be a possibility to explore. If you’ve been taking meds for ADHD and have made changes, maybe that’s the culprit? I just find it odd that Modafinil (which hasn’t been approved for ADHD, as I’ve learned today, but which is very similar to those meds) helped me get rid of the zaps.

    • Em September 29, 2016, 12:45 am

      I had the brain zaps experiencing withdrawal from not tapering off correctly with Zoloft. I also experienced them when I was taking 5htp for mood mixed with buspar which I read into and sounds like a dangerous combo leading to sedation syndrome. Today, however I have a fever and am experiencing mild shocks. Not sure if the fever is causing the shocks or if both are the result of something I’m fighting.

      The only things I currently take are collagen (supposed to lower serotonin) and Garcinia Cambodia. Also lots of coffee and tea. Started that regimen about 3 weeks ago. I wish there was more research on this, it did take me awhile before I could identify the feeling as electrical and most likely coming from some neurotransmitters mis firing.

  • Maria June 26, 2015, 3:05 am

    I just woke up from a deep sleep as I heard my newborn wake up crying, normally I wake up and give it a couple seconds but this time I got up rather quickly. I felt the zapping sensation only for a short while and I didn’t find it alarming as there was no pain just a weird sensation in my head. So In my case I think the REM sleep had something to do with it. I am not on any medication.

  • Randy June 29, 2015, 10:41 am

    I’ve experienced brain shock for many years now. I take both Klonopin and Imipramine. 90% of the time it occurs when I’ve forgotten my imipramine at bedtime, and the shock awakens me. It’s often accompanied by a contraction of my muscles, which creates an uncontrolled body movement of my entire body, but seems to be more pronounced in my legs. When it occurs while I’m awake, and going about my daily routine, it is less pronounced, and the muscle contraction doesn’t occur. It can be bothersome, but I can deal with it, to control the panic attacks that I get without the meds.

  • brianna parker June 30, 2015, 12:28 am

    I found the over the counter motion sickness medication Dramamine helps stop brain zaps due to having to stop SSRI medications cold turkey.

  • Alison July 2, 2015, 3:32 pm

    So glad to have read your blog, I had convinced myself I was suffering from some severe neurological condition! I recently came off Sertraline and Gabapentin and am only on day 9 having tapered for two weeks prior to that. It’s good to know that these weird sensations will pass. Thank you.

  • Jessica July 2, 2015, 4:57 pm

    I am a 29 year old women who has been taking Zoloft for over ten years. First off I want to say that I am thankful that people are speaking about this. When I first started this medication I was a teenager. Fifteen years ago these antidepressants were just becoming popular, I know that they have been around for years but now everyone knows about these drugs. Anyway, I remember sitting in my Dr.’s office afraid to even tell them the withdrawal symptom I was having from missing a dose.

    When I did speak up they had told me that they had never heard of this type of side effect. Of course that made me feel real good! I was scared to death, I thought I was going crazy, I thought that I would have to continue to take this for the rest of my like just so I didn’t have to deal with these “zaps”! I kept it to myself and suffered in silence. I continued to take Zoloft because I didn’t want to deal with the “zaps”.

    Now I am 29 years old and still continue to take it for this reason. I have just started a very slow process with my Dr. trying to come off of it. My struggle starts when I get down to 25 mgs. I am trying to push through hoping that my brain adjusts. Looking back, I wish that my older self was able to tell my younger self not to take this drug and to find an alternative method in treating my issues.

    I don’t feel alone anymore, now that people have spoken out about this. When reading about brain zaps it even words it as being a common symptom! Who would have thought? Bottom line, you are not alone if you are suffering from this. It would be great to start getting awareness out there about this because I’m sure there are still lots of people suffering in silence. Hang in there all!

  • GloryBeToGodForever July 5, 2015, 7:49 am

    Blessings everyone! Now I know the electric shock waves that I was having in my head where called brain zaps. I started experiencing brain zaps when I suddenly stopped taking 25 mg of Sertraline and started taking Dolo-Neurobion Forte instead. At first I thought it was Dolo-Neurobion Forte that was causing these brain zaps, so I stopped taking it as well and noticed the brain zaps where occurring less frequent. In less than a week the brain zaps went away. Now I don’t know whether the brain zaps where caused by suddenly stopping Sertraline or by starting taking Dolo-Neurobion Forte. I’m currently off both.

    I know prayer definitely helped me as well. I used to suffer from extreme anxiety, irritation, inability to concentrate on anything, insomnia, unable to drive a car, severe headaches, thoughts of suicide, always feeling tired, hard time taking showers, stressing over any little task, and the list goes on and on. I believe people called this depression. But, God who is rich in mercy, not only healed me completely but turned my sorrow into joy.

    I know God is talking to someone through my post. God not only wants to heal you completely, He wants you to accept His Son Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Whether or not you posted a comment in here I have prayed for you, but not only for you to get healed but most importantly for you to accept Jesus Christ in your heart. Many blessings to all, see you in haven. GloryBeToGodForever.

  • Amanda Arvanitakis July 6, 2015, 10:54 am

    When missing a dose of Pristiq the next day my brain feels like your tummy feels when you drive over a small hill really fast…and it happens every couple of minutes and lasts for a few seconds. Or when you turn your head and it feels like your eyes haven’t caught up yet…but you haven’t moved your head!!!

  • Deborah Hess July 7, 2015, 3:49 am

    I really glad I found this site, I been taking Venlafaxine for over eight months because I couldnt not afford what I had been taking. I decided I tired of taking them. The doctor had raised from 75 mg. to 100 mg. and I was feeling horrible so I decided I was going to stop them. I did not go cold turkey but gradual of the last month or more.

    I have been off them for about a week and a half. I thought I was getting my migraines back but after hearing what been said. It is what I have been having. Thanks for letting me know. I really now think I can deal with it better. Thanks and good luck to all of us.

  • John Boy July 7, 2015, 3:49 pm

    1. Thank you for the quick answer we all look for — Im not dying, and will not experience this forever.
    2. I dont need to go back on the list of crap I was taking — Paxil (peroxetine), Seroquil (quetiapine fumarate), and Clonazepam. That other methods may have been a better choice for me. (when the persons job is to administer drugs, they will) So maybe the VA should listen to the patient (you know, us disgusting grunts, that you try to avoid, and absolutely do your best to not have to say hi to when passing in the stairwell).
    3. Although it is stated above that eye movement is speculative, I will emphatically declare that “speculation” to be fact – (not all of us w/o a PHD , are stupid, and our self-study has merit). Head and Eye movement are THE triggers for me, my physiology, and my medication chain.

    Thank you for this site!

  • Stephen July 7, 2015, 11:58 pm

    I’ve been on Zoloft for about 6 months now after slowly becoming more and more depressed the past year without even realizing it. My doctor started me at 50mg daily and quickly upped me to 75mg after the first 2 weeks, then up to 100 mg after the next 2 weeks. Four weeks later she raised my dose to 150 mg and I’ve been steady at that dosage ever since.

    About 3 months in to my treatment, I was in a car accident that set off a bunch of problems in my lumbar and thoracic spine. A week after the accident I had a back spasm at work, and started slowly degenerating in health until I was constantly experiencing incredible nerve/muscle pain in my lower back/hips/legs. Around the same time as the constant nerve pain I started experiencing these brain zaps, which I described to my Physician and my Psychiatrist as sort of “buzzing feeling” that felt like electrical tremors or shivers that started under my chin and would run down my shoulders to my elbows and down my ribs and the sides of my legs simultaneously.

    Neither knew what to think, and since I had never stopped the Zoloft or missed a dose the only thing I could think was that it was related to my spine issues causing the nerve pain, but even when I spoke with my Ortho, he had no idea and avoided the issue altogether, and simply focused on getting me in for steroid injections for the other problems. Surprisingly after the injections which I received one week ago, the tremors disappeared completely for 3 days!

    But on the fourth day I started to feel them again. They were lighter than before but the same sensation. Since that day they have progressively become worse and worse, until this morning I woke up with my entire body “buzzing” and feeling as awful as I ever had. I was lethargic as well, and after waking I fell back to sleep unintentionally for 4 more hours. When I awoke again, the buzzing feeling was worse than ever before and it seems the only respite is to sit completely still without moving my neck or arms, which historically have set the zaps off more than anything else.

    Unfortunately sitting completely still isn’t really possible, because my back pain isn’t completely gone either, and the steroid injections have only partially taken care of the nerve pain in my back, so if I stay in one position too long, I’m bound to suffer. However, finding this article has given me some hope that maybe I can switch from Zoloft to something else, or maybe even nullify the effects of the brain zaps with the help of some of the supplements suggested like the Omega-3 fish oils.

    If I have any success I will return to let everyone know what worked for me. I wish everyone here the best of luck with their brain zaps, and also, of course, in all other things. -S

  • Amy July 8, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Thank you for this information, it’s hard enough having panic attacks and anxiety and deciding to not take anything and just deal with it optimistically. I’m actually a nurse and had never heard the term ‘brain zap’ but that is exactly what it feels like. I have heard of ‘unusual sensations’ and ‘pseudo-headache’ however this doesn’t describe it.

    It is a relief to know it will go away. I assume my doctor doesn’t know about this as he sent me for a CT scan of brain yesterday! I had been on xanax several years and finally went off completely to try Paxil. No sleep, 25 lb and 4 months later, I must say, going off Paxil is harder than stoping the xanax! Again, thanks for this info!

  • Lisa L July 8, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Brain zaps, the bane of my existence! I began having zaps in October, 2014. I have NEVER taken anti-depressants or other type medications. I take Advil occasionally, and Estradiol daily (I’m 48, had a Hysterectomy in 2012). My first “episodes” would happen usually at 2:30am, waking me from a dead sleep. I would get extremely painful jolts in my head, on my right side (felt like inside my ear) that would fire every 2-3 seconds and last for 30 minutes.

    At first, I was convinced I had the worst ear infection ever! Went to Urgent Care and was told my ear was fine, but that I probably had Trigeminal Neuralgia and should see a Neurologist. I did, and had my first MRI. The image showed what the Neurologist called an “abnormal lesion” in my brain stem. Over the next week, I had another brain MRI, a Lumbar Puncture (to test for MS), blood tests, and a cervical spine MRI. She couldn’t find anything wrong, yet the zaps were worse than ever, throughout the day and at night when sleeping.

    The Dr’s conclusion was that she was “stumped”. I called the Mayo clinic, discussed my symptoms, and was offered an appointment with the Neurology team the following week. It freaked me out that they got me in so fast, as I had no referral, just my phone call. In that time, I suddenly woke up one morning and couldn’t straighten my right arm…just physically do it! I was glad I was heading to Mayo.

    I had to get a copy of all my medical records and MRI reports and bring them with me. The Mayo team was VERY thorough, and said that obviously SOMETHING was causing my symptoms. They put me through another brain MRI, an elbow MRI and an EMG, to see if I had nerve issues or the brain scan had changed. Nothing had changed, and no nerve issues. The elbow MRI showed a torn tendon, yet I had no idea how it happened, so weird.

    After 3 days of poking, tests and consultations at the Mayo Clinic, they determined there wasn’t a diagnosis other than the “abnormal lesion” in my brain. I can’t help but wonder if my “zaps” and the lesion are somehow related, but who knows. What now? I have noticed the zaps have subsided, until this morning. I’ve been keeping track, and in the past 50 minutes, I’ve experienced 53 painful zaps. I am SOOO frustrated!!

  • Taper, Taper, Taper July 8, 2015, 9:44 pm

    I went cold turkey off Paxil Thursday July 2nd, and the brain zaps kicked in Friday night July 3rd. Spent the holiday in seclusion wondering what was happening. But it’s Wednesday and I’m on day 6 without Paxil; the zaps are just as frequent, but no longer painful. I’m used to them or they’re less powerful. Either way, I do wish I’d been my own advocate and insisted on a fast taper timeline. My doctor suggested it would take 1-2 years to taper off Paxil, so I went rogue and just quit.

    Bad idea. Don’t do it. It isn’t worth the zaps and other side effects. I do wish I’d done some research and insisted on tapering faster than within 1 year, in retrospect, based on my experience and research, I’d say it was certainly possible. I must learn the art of the second opinion. Live and learn. NO zaps while typing this post. I’m enjoying the brief reprieve. Can’t wait for them to stop altogether.

  • LK July 10, 2015, 1:52 am

    I’ve had brain zaps and body zaps for close to a few years now. Jumping first from Lexapro which caused me an insane amount I then switched over to Zoloft and have been on it for 2 years now. I have an auto immune disease as well as an hormone imbalance which makes have a pretty much non existent cortisol level. Even after hormone therapy and seeing endocrinologists my hormones just change to often and I live with brain zaps. Fun!

  • Cathy July 10, 2015, 12:51 pm

    Thank God I’m not alone! I’ve always called it ‘pinging’ if I was late taking or missed a dose of my drug. I am now switching from Pristiq to another newer antidepressant and the brain zaps are driving me crazy add to this a horrible cold and I’m miserable! At least now I know it’s normal, and will come to an end. Thank you!

  • Patti July 11, 2015, 1:31 pm

    This by far was the most informative article I have ever read on brain zaps. It is comforting to know I am not the only one who experiences these and that I am not going to have a seizure or die.

  • Sara July 13, 2015, 6:24 pm

    I have been on Paxil since is was 13, I am now 28. 4 years ago my dosage was upped to 40, 3 months ago it was upped to 60. I have had the zaps before, usually when I forget to take my pills. But the past few days I have had them and I have taken my pills on time! Why do I feel this way? I should be withdrawing from SSRIs. The only thing I can think of is that I have been very stressed lately (buying and selling a home) and now the deal is done and my extra stress is gone. Could the high to low stress be affecting my serotonin levels? It’s difficult to explain to my doctor, he does not believe in the zaps. I just don’t know why I am getting them when I am not weaning off Paxil. Any ideas?

  • T.Rog July 18, 2015, 2:26 pm

    I stopped taking Sertraline about 3 weeks ago and have been experiencing “brain zaps” since then although I’ve had them before when withdrawing from other antidepressants. I was interested to read that the connection with eye movement is only speculation. I can trigger them at will if I move my eyes from side-to-side and they always happen above my right ear when doing so, other times they randomly appear on any part of my skull.

    I’ve not noticed any connection with sleep but I get them every few minutes or so when awake and experience hearing loss, sight blurring and dizziness/disorientation, thankfully they only last for a split second each time. Great to know they won’t last for ever and to have a site like this to allay the fears people may have.

  • Celine July 19, 2015, 4:45 am

    I am 22, not taking any anti-depression medicine or so, only some sleeping pills now and then. I have been experiencing what it seems “brain zaps” for the past week and still ongoing, the sensation is terrifying actually (my parents say that it’s because of long hours in front of laptop or using headphones for long periods but it doesnt feel like the sort of pain which would be resulted from that… which is why I did little research and ended up here).

    I looked throughout the article or some of the comments on experiences that seems like mine but I don’t understand if you are supposed to feel them in the entire brain? cause mine occurs only on the left side of my brain a little above my ear every 2 minutes or so. Has anyone ever experienced this out of nowhere? is it the same thing the article is talking about? nothing to worry about? I am even afraid I will have to go to a doctor and not really know how to explain this electrical thing.

  • Megz July 20, 2015, 12:20 am

    I’ve quit cold turkey from a low dose (10mg/day) of lexapro. The brain zaps I’m getting now are no different to when I came off a much higher dose (50mg/day) almost 2 years ago. It’s as if my brain is being buzzed with electricity for a fraction of a second, then I momentarily feel dizzy afterwards. Last time, the zaps started with a day or so of stopping tgethe lexapro & lasted for over a month. This time, they didn’t start until almost a week of having stopped the medication & it’s been almost another week since I’ve stopped & they’ve been quite frequent the past few days.

  • Leigh July 23, 2015, 2:15 am

    Brain zaps are horrible. I am withdrawing from Cymbalta and it has been miserable. I had to fight with my doctor about the proper way to stop the medication. He kept insisting that what he prescribed was a “very slow taper”. Easy for him to say. He’s not the one dealing with the brain zaps! If he were more knowledgeable, or had bothered to do any research, he might have found any one of the MANY sites that talk about this. I wish he had prescribed something like Prozac to help.

    Even my pharmacist was puzzled by this. I will NEVER take another antidepressant in this class. I will find another way! I hope it doesn’t last too much longer. I am only in the first week of it. If it lasts for months, I don’t know if I will be able to take it. I am seeing a new doctor in a couple of weeks. Hopefully he has more experience or at least the willingness to do some research before offering advice!

  • Zach July 23, 2015, 4:51 pm

    Rarely does a google search of symptoms lead to actual relevant and helpful information, but this is spot on. I’ve been experiencing these brain zaps the past few days and suspected that it was from running out of my antidepressants. It isn’t necessarily painful but I am relieved to see that there’s no evidence of neuron damage from this. I was beginning to get worried it was some other health condition or potentially damaging me long-term. Thanks!

  • Zeus July 24, 2015, 7:19 pm

    Same issue, not on any medication. Do have low Vit D and B12. I’m starting to think its computer screen related and being on the computer for long periods. When people find the answer or no longer feel the symptoms, the last thing they do is come back here and share. So if something works please don’t forget to come back and let everyone know.

  • Robert July 25, 2015, 12:46 am

    Oddly enough I quit taking Cymbalta about a week ago and I just started feeling these brain zaps today. I am on Tramadol, so that may have delayed the effects as well. I suffered through work today and couldn’t wait to go home and lay in bed. I feel like every few minutes someone is literally zapping my brain with a taser. It makes me dizzy and nauseous. I hope this doesn’t last too long.

  • Christina July 29, 2015, 1:41 am

    Hey guys. I’m 3 days off Paxil 10mg and I’ve been having awful brain zaps for the past three days along with stomach pain. What do you suggest I do? I’m trying to fight through and work but it gets worse when I stand or am in front of people. How long will this last? Please help!

  • guest July 31, 2015, 5:36 pm

    Today I just started having brain zaps, didn’t know what is that until I have it. Of course I read about the Paxil withdrawal and these brain zaps earlier but I thought that I wouldn’t be the one ‘lucky’ guy to have this as well. I also read that these can be triggered by eye movement in horizontal and not vertical fashion, and that is so true, when move my eyes to right I imediately feel the ‘zap’ accompanied with ‘wooshing’ sound in head and some very minor discomfort going along the chest. I’m ordering the omega-3 with a hope it will help.

  • Dawn August 3, 2015, 3:45 pm

    Mine have been caused by a wean down from Cymbalta and transitioning to a different medication called Fetzima. I am experiencing the worst case of these and have the severe nausea with it for over a month now. Every moment sets it off and I’m at my wits end. :( Praying for relief from new medicine soon!

  • Sandra August 4, 2015, 7:49 pm

    These brain zaps are probably caused by some interaction between our structure–our nervous systems–and our chemical make up. All sorts of chemicals, from anti-depressants to opiates to hormones–seem to impact them. But so can neck injuries, the flu, tiredness, etc. I got these from peri-menopause when my estrogen levels started to fall; estrogen impacts serotonin levels, and functions itself as a neurotransmitter.

    Falling to sleep eventually became difficult, since they would stun me back awake. I had to learn to accept that, and try to give myself longer to sleep, which was not always possible. My productivity plummeted from sleep deprivation. I believe that these have a mild but detrimental impact on memory if they continue unabated for months.

    I really think they are what they feel like: tiny electrical storms, mild seizures. Not life threatening, but when they are strong, they are literally shocking. I took Clonopin to get to sleep for a year. I never took any SSRIs. I got the flashing light (in my case, like sheet lightning), sound–ddzzzzt or a little more intense: DDDZZZSSSSSSSST!T!T!–and the stronger zaps were followed by a strange period of visual activity if my eyes were closed.

    My brain would created constantly shifting sets of geometric or sometimes leaf-like shapes with colors. I could open my eyes to stop it, but this usually happened to me as I was trying to sleep, so eventually I decided to just watch the odd little psychedelic movies and relax. Somehow, my visual cortex was being stimulated by the zaps. It was really weird, I must say, and you feel pretty trapped, like someone is going after your brain with a cattle prod, then making you endure all of the odd consequences.

    These are just little seizures–usually in my case they did not involve much convulsing, although on rare occasions I had some. Anti-oxidants, magnesium, B-vitamins, and growing older all seemed to help. Again, I took Klonopin, and I hated how stupid it made me, so I tapered down and got off. The zaps still happen to me but are rare. They come back if I am really tired or stressed, or perhaps if I eat gluten.

    I no longer eat gluten, except super rarely since some neurological problems can have dietary roots. I rarely take estrogen. My advice is this: if you have been taking SSRIs or any other drugs, and want to taper off, expect these zaps and expect them to fade. They probably will. If you are female, these might be related to hormonal fluctuations since hormones impact neurotransmitters. Expect to look into them by using doctors who really do not understand them. They are not caused by anxiety but they certainly make one feel anxious at first.

    They must sometimes be related to the brain’s dopamine system since some comments here reflect that (the cute children and video games mentioned in comments above impact dopamine levels, I believe.) Neurologists will probably study these one day, but they seem not to have made it into neurological training systems yet. If yours are really distressing, then change a bunch of things in your life: use vitamins – especially B12 and other Bs and Cal-Mag.

    Try better eating, try different sleep routines, try going gluten free (give this 6 weeks), quit your job, slowly find other doctors, try herbal supplements like Valerian root, try Ibuprofen or Tylenol, try Clonazepam even though benzodiazepines are bad for you. All of these things have helped other people! Try meditation–it changes your brain’s structure–try a single glass of red wine, try looking at far more greenery. Tell people about it–the dddzzzzzzt account above made me laugh out loud, since it brought it all back, but was light-hearted.

    And imagine that maybe, it will eventually pass, and you will get to the other side, like I did. Maybe your immune will fight something off and stop accidentally irritating your nerves’ sheathing, or whatever is happening, and slowly your body will right itself, and you will only have these little shocks occasionally, and all will be well.

  • Jill August 6, 2015, 4:12 pm

    They are awful awful. I stopped taking Celexa and even though I’ve tapered down to 5mg. It wasn’t enough. Second time trying to come off this year and can’t do it. I will have to go back on to 5mg and lower to 2.5 and I might even try to cut those halves of halves in half until I can handle it. They make you feel like an out of body experience. Like you’re an idiot or crazy. Make you want to cry. Or sleep. Caused me to be suicidal at one point just wanting them to stop. GO BACK ON MEDICATION. Just try to taper smaller doses longer. It takes A LONG time to get off this sh*t.

  • John August 8, 2015, 7:24 pm

    Hi, I have been suffering from brain zaps for about 6 months now. They are very painful and horrible. I don’t know why they arised. My only guess is that I stopped taking a SSRI about 12 months ago cold turkey. Why though would I go through an entire half of a year without feeling the brain zaps, then have them randomly appearing. I hear people on hear say that they last a week or a month. I f*cking wish.

    I’m going on 7 months of these horrible brain zaps and I’m getting desperate. It’s insanely painful and uncomfortable. My therapists are unfamiliar with it. I’m taking gapapentin for anxiety and that helps with the brain zaps, but they still show up. I take vitamins and fish and flaxseed oil, but I still feel them. They randomly shoot throughout my body. They usually appear when I’m outside and it’s hot, or if I get anxious about something. I can’t imagine going another 6 months with this. I don’t know what to do. Someone please help me.

  • n.m August 11, 2015, 3:14 am

    I never took these medicines and have expierenced this since I was a child. Very sporadic and even years go without one. I am 31 and had my first one in I don’t know how long a few weeks ago. Feel a zap in the back of my brain and when I open my eyes it is almost “psychedelic” in feeling and vision for a brief second after. This must be noted that the “feeling” I experience was felt before I knew what a psychedelic experience was (i.e. had them since I was just a small child with similar results).

  • Sara Angie August 14, 2015, 11:25 pm

    I get these brain zaps sometimes. However I have never been on any medication. It only occurs when I am about to fall asleep but due to some stress or serious thinking I am unable to do so. It seems my condition is anxiety related. Thanks for this article and all the comments I am assured it’s not damaging my brain.

  • Melissa Martin August 16, 2015, 8:05 pm

    I have experienced these since being placed on my first medication for bipolar and depression which was depakote. I was taken off that medication and continually now over ten years they continue, on and off other psychological drugs. Now I know they are not dangerous I feel a bit more at ease.

  • Amanda August 19, 2015, 11:15 am

    I started Paxil when I was 18, stopped cold turkey for a month or so after I turned 19 & lost health insurance, and then continued back on it. Since starting it I’ve switched to Effexor, Celexa, Zoloft and now Buspar and still to this day have the shocks. I’m now 31 and not a day goes by that I don’t suffer in some way, shape or form. Some says it’s bearable while others (like today) I just want to cry from the misery.

    If I had known then what I do now I never would have started Paxil because this is pure hell! I sincerely hope that no one else who is dealing with this has to do so for as long as I have because it controls my whole life. I spend my whole day in a horrible mood just counting down the hours until bed so I can get some sort of relief. My life and my son have both been extremely negatively affected by this.

  • 2XP August 22, 2015, 5:09 pm

    After INCREASING Lamotrigine five days PRIOR, I had my first ever Brain Zaps, the evening of; July 06. 2015. I had eight that evening. And I continued to have frequent Brain Zaps, until discontinuing Lamotrigine, July 09, after Possible Cause Discovery was made. In Mid August, with absolutely NO Mental Health Medication changes having taken place, I have periodically and with no consistency, whatsoever, begun to have Brain Zaps, again. Thus far they have been few in number, but mighty in strength.

    Has anyone discovered if; Certain Medications, the Combination of Particular Medications, Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety or any other situations OTHER THAN Medication WITHDRAWAL perhaps might be the cause of Brain Zaps? I first thought the Lamotrigine was my Guilty Party. Though now, with my body not absorbing Lamotrigine, in over a Month, but continuing to have infrequent Brain Zaps? I am certainly at a loss AND well up for; questions, suggestions, conversation and/or anything that might lead ALL OF US to HELP EACH OTHER! I thank each of you, as I ask God to Bless you, as well.

  • Amy August 25, 2015, 7:55 pm

    Glad to know I’m not alone. I’ve been off my Effexor for four days thanks to an insurance screw up and I feel like I’m going crazy. Mine are on the left side of my head and are pulses that come in 3 or 5 count. I will have maybe 20 seconds between each series of pulses. It’s non stop, no matter if I’m resting, reading, sitting with eyes closed, working, driving. When I switched from Effexor to Viibryd several years ago, the pulses lasted for weeks. I switched back to Effexor after four years on Viibryd due to cost.

    The sensation starts at the bar of my head on the left side and pulses 1-2-3 like a heartbeat except it’s electric inside my head. There’s noise associated with it and an electric jolt that goes from my head to my fingers with each 3 or 5 count. I’m taking St Johns Wort to try and even me out, but it is not helping with the pulses. I’m hoping the insurance issue is resolved by tomorrow because I feel like my brain is misfiring and trying to launch itself into space. Thanks for this article!

  • Arla August 25, 2015, 11:19 pm

    I was on Seroxat (Paxil) for 6 months, tried to quit by weaning (doctor’s orders) but the withdrawal symptoms were so bad that I continued the drug. Then after another 6 months I managed to wean (I thought). Withdrawal symptoms started gradually. Symptoms worsened, and after 5 months of discontinuation they peaked. I had not slept for 3 weeks (not for a minute!), muscle spasms all the time and an extremely strong electric shock running through my entire body throughout the day and night. It’s been 3 years now, I am much better, the electricity is much less, but still here, mostly on my head, face and chest. I have been searching the net for an experience similar to mine, due to quitting an SSRI, but people are reporting only on brain zaps. Does anyone else experience a steady current of electricity in his body?

  • Natalie September 2, 2015, 5:49 pm

    I’m so glad I found this! I was prescribed Zoloft for extreme anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, after about a month, it started messing with my digestion and I had to taper off and stop. Then, my head started feeling like this! Let me tell you, this did not help my anxiety one bit. I feel so much better after reading this article, though. Thank you! I really do hope that everyone can work through their own problems and find the happiness that you all deserve. Xoxo

  • Heather September 7, 2015, 12:11 am

    Can a lawsuit be lodged for brain zaps?

  • melissa September 10, 2015, 3:22 am

    I wish I would have seen this earlier. I recently moved and am unable to continue taking Paxil due to having to go through counseling for 3 weeks before I can even see anyone to write me a script. How ridiculous. Anyhow, I only had 3 pills left so I split them in half to try to taper on my own. Don’t try this on your own by the way. Less than 24 hours I was having brain zaps. It happens when I turn my head or eyes and mostly bothers me at night for some reason. Even scrolling on my phone gets me zapped then I feel nauseous and super dizzy. I am going to try seeing if my anxiety medicine I used to take helps out.

  • Nan September 14, 2015, 4:53 pm

    The internet is a godsend for things like this. I had been searching for my symptoms, finally realizing the only ones coming close to describing what I’m experiencing are often coming off SSRIs. I’ve been taking Tramadol for a few years, 3 times a day, and had started taking them twice a day in an effort to get off them as I don’t know that they help with the type of pain I get.

    My episodes aren’t horribly severe and will usually go away if I focus on relaxing my eyes. When they started, it was only when I initially laid down to go to sleep, then they started whenever I’d roll over. Now they are starting to happen more during the day. Since they seem to go from ear to ear, I thought it might be ear-related in some weird way.

    Frightened me enough to go to an ENT, who had no idea what it could be, did an ear test, and ordered an MRI that he didn’t expect to show anything, but he wanted to clear that before referring me to a neurologist. Assuming my insurance doesn’t fight it, my copay on an MRI is awfully large, and based on what I’m reading, I don’t think I will follow up. I did have a 20 decimal drop in hearing ability between my two ears.

    But anyway, it’s been a couple of months and it seems to be getting worse instead of better. I thought I’d wait for the brain zaps to go away before reducing the pills down to once per day. From what I’m reading here, I’m really afraid to reduce them anymore because I would be dysfunctional if these were more constant or uncontrollable. I’ve been on BHRT for 10 years, so my hormones should be fairly stable.

    I do get lots of headaches and take Excedrin when I get them, but they come from neck and shoulder pain. It’s been working less and less well. I like the post suggesting making lots of changes… diet, fish oil, meditation, walking outside… I did an elimination diet in May before these zaps started happening to me and didn’t notice a difference, but maybe I’ll try again. I also had a top molar pulled around the time the zaps started, which is probably irrelevant, but I thought I’d mention it.

    I have some GABA which I haven’t tried to correlate to the brain zaps. It was marketed as a focus enhancer, but it makes me sleepy. Actually makes me sleep very deeply and I feel great the day after I take it. But I rarely take it since I know it’s something your brain will stop making if it’s getting an external source regularly.

  • S. Lynn September 17, 2015, 3:41 am

    I started having brain zaps when I was tappering off Zoloft. Luckily, my pharmicist had had them before, so I was informed right away as to why they were happening. I tried for a year to tapper off to no avail. The brain zaps felt like I was being tortured. The longest I could endure them for was about 3 or 4 weeks until they got so bad that they made me cry…partly from the anticipation of them throughout the day.

    So I went back on Zoloft. My OB/Gyn discovered the Prozac trick and put me on the lowest dose of the time release capsules when supposedly release 12mg a day. I still couldn’t taper off them. After four weeks, I’d have to take another pill because the zaps got so bad. Then, my pharmacist recommended taking the 10 mg Prozac pills daily and then cutting them in half to 5 mg daily.

    About a month ago, I forgot to take my 5mg one day and didn’t have any brain zaps for about 2-3 weeks. Now they have started up little by little, mostly in the late afternoon and into the evening. I wake up fine each day and haven’t taken another Prozac but I’m tempted to because the zaps are getting worse. I imagine they’ve started because the Prozac is totally out of my system, but I’m so discouraged that they’ve started again.

    I’m fine as long as I lay down but once I look around or get up, they start up. I’m hoping they won’t get too bad and I can push through the next days/weeks (hopefully not months) until my brain is back to normal.

  • 3kidsmom September 21, 2015, 3:30 am

    I am so grateful for this article! I have been experiencing the shocks since coming off of Prozac. I have been on Prozac for 14 years and have finally decided to quit. (I think it worsened my anxiety). About 12 years ago I tried effexor and did not like the side effects from missing one day,(nausea and brain shocks.) I quit cold turkey and experienced the brain shocks pretty bad, but at that time there was very little information about them on the internet.

    Fast forward 12 years and I’m experiencing them again with discontinuing Prozac. I tapered off a little, but have been experiencing them terribly the last week. I am so grateful to know other people feel these annoying and often somewhat uncomfortable shocks. I am going to try the fish oil and b12. I have a bottle of 5-HTP and GABA and wonder if that will help also? I will let you guys know.

  • Kevin September 21, 2015, 1:39 pm

    I would like to say this: Regarding the opinions I’ve read stating that brain zap symptoms are considered “harmless” or “not dangerous”, my personal experience with atrial fibrillation concerns me vis-à-vis brain zaps. As a child, my family doctor dismissed my arrhythmia as harmless, and as far as I know, the medical community in general agreed with this at that time (in the 1970’s).

    Over time, with research and advances in knowledge, that opinion was proven invalid. My symptoms worsened with age, my diagnosis morphed into super ventricular tachycardia (SVT) and after multiple visits to the emergency room including a frightful experience with paramedics in an Atlantic City casino, was finally corrected with a procedure called a catheter ablation.

    I’m not sure how the medical community can possibly conclude that these brain zap symptoms are harmless. I’d rather read that it is unknown, which to me would be the honest conclusion to reach, rather than half-baked reassurances that this is “harmless”. If anyone has any information of substance to support the opinion that these symptoms are harmless, that would truly be welcome!

    • Sara Morin October 15, 2015, 7:39 am

      I agree that the Medical community seems almost silent on this matter, or at least extremely vague. Conspiracy of Silence? All of the information I have found has been from distressed patients. Dr’s seem to hardly even want to discuss this most distressing symptom of anti-depressant use or withdraw. I’m disappointed to say the least. Perhaps more media attention needs to be given to this reality, this giant elephant in the room.

      • Sue August 1, 2016, 8:24 am

        I too am frustrated with the silence, or worse, from the medical community. My zaps started last week and have left me barely able to walk. In the last 7 months I’ve transitioned from escitalopram to desvenlafaxine to duloxetine. I’m certain I have a bad cough and wheezing as a side-effect from the Cymbalta but the doctor thought it was probably an infection and so prescribed antibiotics.

        Whilst out on a strenuous walk I developed constant zapping, loss of balance, tinnitus, visual disturbances that feel like my eyes are jumping, tingling in my arms and legs, nausea and stomach pain. And the hissing in my ears is so loud! Not much fun on a remote track in a mountainous area. I requested a medication review and was told by the psychiatrist, before he’d heard all that I had to say, that it was a virus in my ear.

        He prescribed seasickness medication, which definitely doesn’t address my concerns. I don’t know if it is a delayed withdrawal from Pristiq, an interaction caused by the antibiotic, or the Cymbalta. I decided I’d try going off all medication but the buzzing and zapping is constant. Going cold turkey, after three days I’ve become bedridden and gone back to taking the medication. I have to be careful moving my eyes and head, and need support when I walk.

        It’s exceedingly frustrating to have my concerns not heard, and also to be almost completely non-functional when the point of taking the medication was to recover from PTSD and depression and become functional again. There are way too many side-effects for me, but no-one will listen because Cymbalta is meant to be ‘one of the good ones’. I’ve been on and off antidepressants for 40 years (and probably taken most of them at one time or another) but I’ve never experienced anything like these zaps.

        Or the aches and pains and muscle stiffness. Zaps taking Cymbalta, worse zaps not taking it. I want to get off this stuff asap, but it’s not going to be something I can do easily. I foolishly thought I could tough it out. I can’t decide whether I’m least impressed with the medication or the psychiatric community.

  • Pete September 22, 2015, 1:17 pm

    I’m withdrawing from Paxil, cold turkey. The zaps I have feel like waves hitting me in the ocean. There is also some disequilibrium, or at least sensations of that. To help it I can keep myself busy. The more I have stimulation from the outside, the less I feel it. My autonomic nervous system seems to be overly stimulated and I think it has to do with that. I know this because my heart rate is higher than usual and (skip this if easily offended) I masturbated yesterday and it only took 3 minutes to come to a conclusion. Mind this, I’m 68!

  • Susie September 22, 2015, 6:01 pm

    I am so happy I’ve just read this thread. I didn’t realize that was an actual name for what I’ve been experiencing coming off Citalopram. I thought I was imagining it! Such a relief. Brain zaps are horrendous.

  • Aaron September 24, 2015, 4:39 am

    I was having very severe and anxiety accompanied by panic attacks. I was also having visual migraines every other day if not daily and to this day am still not sure if they we’re related. I was very scared and it was constant. I saw my general doctor finally and she prescribed me paxil. The migraines stopped immediately and after a few weeks my anxiety did too. I had a constant restlessness in my left arm and left leg for months that also went away after taking paxil. For once I feel back to normal however, if I miss one dose of my paxil my vision becomes a little shaky very briefly but the shake is rapid and my vision also gets blurry for literally one second at a time.

    I am no hypochondriac. The worst symptom I have of missing my paxil are the brain zaps! They are so sudden and so severe that they make me dizzy. They only last for just a second and seem to happen more when I move my eyes alone or my whole head left to right or right to left down or up. And it stays it is relentless until I take another dose and then it’s gone within the hour. Glad to know I’m not alone.

  • steve September 25, 2015, 7:09 am

    Took paxil for 2 years at 20mg. After losing my bottle and being cold turkey for 3 days, the brain zaps are very annoying and kind of frightening.

  • Poloko September 30, 2015, 1:22 pm

    I am a student a Syracuse U School of architecture. My school is nutritious for depriving their students of sleep. This article interested me because I noticed my “zaps” mainly last year when I was getting about 12 hours of sleep per week. Alongside the poor sleep, I quit my antidepressant. The zaps were out of control and were VERY painful. I keep a very close eye on my health and I cannot figure out why these zaps would continue this year, where I am getting more sleep and have been off my meds for almost 6 months.

  • Kelly October 4, 2015, 3:47 am

    I have to be in massive pain before I take Tylenol or ibuprofen. I get brain zaps at least once every other month and sometimes more. I normally get 6 hours of sleep everyday. I don’t suffer from depression. I don’t take other medications and I still get brain zaps 98% at the point of falling asleep. I normally have a full body convulsion prior to the brain zap. Sometimes I get a massive ringing in the ears which I have found that when I’m lying down I can provoke it further leading to a brain zap. I do get regular headaches when the weather changes and I do have compressed vertebrae in my neck, but I don’t know if that’s part of the cause or not. The brain zap normally feels like getting hit with 220 volts of electricity in the head.

  • Liann October 8, 2015, 3:34 am

    My problem this time is a little different than the norm. I used to get brain zaps from tapers or if I missed a dose. For the past 3 weeks or so, I am getting zapped for no apparent reason. I haven’t missed a dose of my Paxil and I am not tapering down. Have a Dr.’s appt scheduled next week, but have no clue why I am having this reaction this time. No changes on my end. A little confused over here. Any feedback is welcome!

    • Nicole March 25, 2016, 7:02 am

      The same thing has been happening to me for the past year. Did you ever figure out why the zaps started even though you weren’t tapering? I learned the hard way all about the brain zaps from SSRI withdrawal. It is a very unique type of “headache.” I tapered off Cymbalta when I wanted to start trying to have children. After I had my daughter, I switched to 25 mg Paxil with 450 Wellbutrin.

      For 13 months this worked well with no brain zaps. I had my son and immediately went back on the paxil and wellbutrin. I started to notice that I was starting to get brain zaps several months after having him. At first I thought I had forgotten to take my medicine. But I hadn’t! I was also experiencing pretty bad “normal” headaches every day around 4-5pm.

      I was always rushing around with both little kids and the zapping would occur more when I moved my head fast. The periodic zapping happened for months. My first step was making an appointment with a new psychiatrist (unfortunately my psychiatrist was no longer practicing). Our collective thinking was that maybe I was metabolizing the Paxil too fast so that by 4-5pm (when I noticed the buzzing to be worse as well as the normal headaches) I had nothing left and thus was feeling withdrawal.

      Even though the Paxil was extended release, I have a history of fast drug metabolism so maybe this was the reason. I started taking an additional 12.5 mg of Paxil around 4pm every day. I think I did this for about 6 months. It didn’t help. I weened off the 12.5mg at 4pm. Then the psychiatrist suggested taking Vitamin A for better absorption.

      That did nothing. My next step was a Naturopathic doctor. It’s been my experience that your average Primary Care Physician is not all that well versed in these drugs despite being able to prescribe them and the majority of them have never heard of “brain zaps.” I didn’t want to waste time going to one for this. They always look at me incredulously when I tell them it’s like getting tazered in between my eyes!

      A friend, had gone to see a naturopathic doctor and even though the holistic route generally isn’t my go-to, I decided to give it a chance. Not before making sure that she wasn’t one of those people who was against any and all medications. The visit was fascinating. She ran a ton of blood work and found that not only was I anemic (not enough iron in blood throughout the body) but my ferritin (iron stored in liver) was ridiculously low.

      My red blood cell count was too low and my body wasn’t producing enough oxygen to supply to my organs. She said I was basically using excess adrenaline and cortisol to keep myself moving throughout the day and that by 4pm the overproduction was causing my major headaches. In addition, I was estrogen dominant with low progesterone. We decided to tackle the two problems (anemia/ferritin and Low progesterone) one at a time so I’d be clear as to which was causing the problems.

      A little backstory: an hour after I delivered my son I started hemorrhaging. In fact, I spent the day hemorrhaging losing 3.5 liters of blood. A blood transfusion and 4 hemorrhages later, my OB performed an emergency hysterectomy, removing my uterus and one ovary. Turns out my son’s placenta had grown past my uteran lining into the uteran muscle. I never stood a chance of keeping my uterus but unfortunately the doctor didn’t know this till pathology came back 3 days after the emergency hysterectomy.

      SO, it made total sense that maybe I was buzzing and getting headaches after my son was born but not after my daughter because I lost so much blood! I started taking an iron supplement and was told to eat at least 100g of protein a day. This ended up being a significant change in my diet. That’s a lot of protein! But it worked!! The buzzing stopped and so did the afternoon headaches. 3 months after the initial lab work, I went back again. My red blood cells were up and so was my ferritin. I was shocked to see just how important protein was!

      Prior to changing my diet, I had been charting my symptoms (brain zaps, normal headaches and night sweats). All of these symptoms appeared to occur around the same time and they also appeared to follow my menstrual cycle although this was incredibly hard to be sure about since I no longer get my period. After I increased my protein, the brain zaps and afternoon headaches went away but my night sweats didn’t. We then decided to work on my low progesterone. I started taking Vitex extract (Chasteberry).

      I took it every night vs. 2 weeks before my period because again, we weren’t sure when exactly that was. The first 3 months it really helped and the night sweats went away. The next blood work I had done not only showed increasing ferritin levels, but also lower estrogen and higher progesterone. Then it stopped working and the night sweats returned. I switched to a plant based progesterone cream that you rub on the inside of the thigh.

      That’s also pretty much when I noticed that my afternoon headaches were back and just as bad as before. And then I started getting faint buzzing once a day! Nothing that I couldn’t live with, but also a bit concerning since I thought the issue had been finally eradicated. I started charting it all again and again it seems cyclical. Recently I have been asking around for a recommendation for a good neurologist figuring that was the next place to go for answers.

      In the meantime, the same friend who told me about the naturopathic doctor told me about a psychiatrist she was seeing who performed a genetic test on her which would tell her what drugs (including antidepressants) worked the best for her specifically. All from a cotton swab! The Paxil works for me. Having spent both pregnancies (and the time trying for both pregnancies) un-medicated, I clearly know the difference between my medicated and un-medicated self.

      But maybe a different drug will work for me without the buzzing? Paxil is known for its short half -life, maybe another drug might be better. The thing is, I’m 39 now, since college I feel like I’ve tried the great majority of the ones out there. Is the Paxil “working” for me if I still get these monthly brain zaps? Is it the Paxil at all or maybe I have to start on a more powerful progesterone?

      So that’s my long story. Would love to hear back from Liann and anyone else in the same sort of situation (on an anti-depressant, not tapering off, but still experiencing withdrawal symptoms as if you were!). For those of you who are trying to get off the medications, my advice is to TAPER slowly. I’ve come off of Effexor, Cymbalta and Paxil and what I learned is that you need to slowly taper. Plan it out.

      I used a calendar where the first week I took half of what I normally take. Then the second week I took half of that and so on and so on. It’s easier when it comes to drugs like Effexor and Cymbalta bc they are capsules with beads and they’re dealt in high doses that are easy to cut in half. I used to pop the capsules open and portion out half the beads. I found the end to be the hardest part. By the time you’ve halved and halved and halved you just want to be done.

      But I think the brain just clings on to the little that is left! I literally was taking 4 beads of the 60+ beads in just one capsule of Effexor by the time I totally was able to stop. I also recommend skipping every other day towards the very end. When the buzzing stops, you can stop! When it comes to non capsule meds like Paxil, it’s a lot harder to taper. They tell you not to cut the controlled release or extended release in half. So I went from 25mg to 12.5.

      I think the lowest dose you can get Paxil in is 5mg. But, I found out that there is a liquid Paxil! Orange flavored. Not bad. I used that to taper off and ended up taking 1mg every other day, till I felt confident that the buzzing would stop. Don’t go cold turkey! I tried it the first time. Made it to Day 3 and then couldn’t even get out of bed. Day 4 I was loathe to start taking anything again, giving up the 4 day progress I had made, but I was physically unable to cope with the withdrawal symptoms any longer.

      My doctor told me to go back to my normal dose for a week and start tapering from there. It can take weeks and weeks, but it can be done. P.S. My zaps have sound like the light saber description above and usually come in 3-4 quick bursts. I also feel it in my mouth and teeth. When I move my head during a zap it’s like I’m in slo-mo.

  • Tracy October 13, 2015, 7:33 am

    These brain zaps are driving me up the wall. I’m feeling tortured. Since January 2015, I stopped taking my prescription for Cabergoline and tried taking vitamins and exercising. I still take the vitamins, but stopped exercising. It sucks! I’ve experience brain zaps before and it subsided. Now it’s back. Now I’m back taking my medication. Hopefully, it stops ASAP.

  • Tim race October 15, 2015, 12:09 pm

    Well I have been experiencing brain zaps for two weeks, I have been on citalopram for ten years, I didn’t gradually stop, I was taking 40mg then 20mg then 10 mg over one week. Then stopped completely. They are hard to describe, zaps in the brain is pretty much what I experience, moving my head and eyes seems to make them worse.

    I am so glad I read this article as I have to say I was getting to the point of thinking I had a serious neurological problem. I am not going to restart my antidepressants, so I will just have to live with it and hopefully they will disappear. I hope to tell you in the near future that they have gone completely. Thank you for putting my mind at rest.

  • TJ October 18, 2015, 6:01 am

    No physician I ever talked to understood or had heard of this. The first time I experienced it was when I stopped taking Prozac cold turkey. I didn’t correlate the two at the time. The next time was when I quit Zoloft cold turkey. This time I realized it because it accompanied other, extremely lame symptoms like clouded judgement and confusion. Wow did I make bad decisions.

    The next time it was Cymbalta. I knew it was going to happen, but I couldn’t afford it anymore. So I kept about 15 pills and took one every time I felt the zaps. They’d almost immediately stop and then I could co a slightly longer time between doses than I had the last time. I highly recommend this method over gradually decreasing your dosage. This method takes a significantly shorter period of time.

  • John Wagner October 18, 2015, 9:29 pm

    After having a very traumatic experience using cymbalta (seizures, falling, vertigo, more…), I was advised to slowly decrease my dosage to nil. Once I completed the process, I continue to have a lot of the same side effects with the worse being brain zaps and vertigo. Any advice to the suffering? Thank you.

  • Jess October 19, 2015, 4:30 am

    Here I thought I was going crazy and I have been isolating myself, my dr switched me from citalopram to buspirone – I work in the industry field, and I feel these “brain zaps” while at work, at home, I can’t see straight, I feel out of touch with reality and my eyes are burning. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to deal with this?

  • G October 21, 2015, 6:41 pm

    First off, I have to say that I have always had high anxiety from my job and family life. The stress had pushed me to use medical marijuana and alcohol to relax and as a way out, but eventually may have dug myself into a deeper hole. I was never claustrophobic or anxious in my younger years but now I am. For the anxiety I would take a small .15 dose of xanax only in emergency panic situations.

    My brain zaps started very mild and would occur often when using medical marijuana and going to sleep. At the time, I felt that the jolt in my sleep was due to sleep apnea, like forgetting to breath during sleep, but now realize that they were likely brain zaps. One day, after having very little sleep and a night of drinking, I felt a strong zap while driving. It was accompanied by brain shivers, tenseness in my neck and dizziness. I took b12 and was good for the day.

    That weekend I was in Las Vegas, got little sleep, and had several drinks with friends during a bachelor party. After the party and a week later is when my dizziness and brain zaps started, on a regular basis. For weeks I would have constant headaches, almost like my head was about to explode. Pressure was built up in my temples and sinuses. My neck was constantly tense. I no longer drink or use medical marijuana; they both elevate my anxiety now, although the cold turkey from it may be the cause of my brain zaps.

    The brain zaps usually occur when I am driving, and I usually ride them out by squinting my eyes. Wearing sunglasses helps to prevent them. I noticed that I am sensitive to light. The zaps are accompanied by vertigo and high anxiety. B12 and vitamin E have helped get me through the day. When having high anxiety and vertigo, a small dose of xanax and advil have come to my rescue. In my research, one co-relation with people having these symptoms is the lack of exercise, sleep, and high anxiety.

    Running has definitely helped me overcome anxiety, and on days that I do run, I don’t experience the zaps. Meditation, reiki, energy balancing and acupuncture have also given me much relief. A vegan diet once in a while has also put me at ease. Hopefully this helps someone, and if you can be of any additional advice to me, that would greatly be appreciated. Thank you!

  • Bryan October 23, 2015, 3:23 am

    I have suffered from these for years after Paxil and later Celexa cessation. Of course all of the “experts” including every single doctor I EVER spoke to wrote it off. I found only one direct connection and relief. When the zaps were at their worst, my blood pressure was elevated. It got to the point I could tell my nurse and doctor what my blood pressure was to within a few points! Now, that got their attention. To begin with they used Clonidine, a short acting BP medication, but you quickly build a tolerance to it & it has horrible rebound effects.

    Finally I went on Lisinopril at a relatively low dose of 10mg/day. You may have to fight and find what works for you, but if you are having these, and they are as miserable as mine, and even if your BP is just slightly high, it may well be worth taking a look at. Also, as far as all the, it causes no damage stuff, well, they used to tell me they didn’t even exist….who knows what the long term effects of antidepressant use are?!?!?

  • Jules October 26, 2015, 10:11 am

    I am reducing venlafexine stopped it three days ago. I am having brain zaps on moving my eyes and head from side to side they are scary I also get pins and needles in my fingers and lips and a burning up sensation like hot flushes feels a bit like when you have a temperature with Flu. I agree though the zaps occur when I start to get stressed. Hoping I can stay off the meds been on different antidepressants since I was 22 I am now 46.

    Never had brain zaps before with reducing though. Today I thought about phoning the doc to get a lower dose because I stopped at 75 mg but then I think that’s just going to add to the symptoms starting again when I stop 37.5mg. Trying to hold it together without hard when you live as a single parent though. Good luck to everyone on here.

  • Kev October 30, 2015, 5:03 pm

    I’m glad I now know the name of them because I never could describe them. When I googled I put in “brain flashes” cuz thats what they feel like to me. I take Effexor for depression and Lamotrigine as a mood stabilizer. I realized that I forgot to take lamotrigine yesterday so I’m assuming that’s what caused the problem today. They do definitely suck because I want to take my motorcycle out and get some groceries but I’m worried that I’ll zap while I’m riding around. Just to be safe I’ll wait a couple of hours and let the lamotragine get distributed through my brain. As everyone said they do go away with time.

  • Kirk October 31, 2015, 2:13 am

    I stopped taking my antidepressant (celexa), and my other meds because I felt like a slave to the drugs. I quit cold turkey (not recommended). I get these electric shock sensations or “brain zaps” every time I move my eyes and head. It started a few days after I quit taking my meds and has persisted for over a month now. The sensation is more annoying than anything but I just hope it stops soon. I don’t want to go back to taking the meds that caused the problem. Feels like a shockwave coursing through my whole body every time I look at something.

  • Erin Griffin November 2, 2015, 1:15 am

    I thought I was about to lose my balance and my vision became blurry while experiencing these electric shocks. It’s uncomfortable and kind of scary because you don’t know how long it’ll last, how severe it will get, or what to do to stop it. Typically it’s after I’ve missed my Paxil for about a day. Usually I can take it and about an hour later it subsides. Lately I’ve had a more severe case that has gone on for a few days and it’s worrying me.

  • cheryl gartner November 2, 2015, 1:15 pm

    I started having “zap” 10 years into Effexor XR while I was on it. Doctor changed me to Cymbalta with no relief. Now they are horrible! A daily occurrence… HELP ME!

  • Edie November 4, 2015, 1:56 pm

    I want to thank the person who wrote this article. I will see how the B12 vitamins and Omega’s work for me. But I think you are amiss in that “time heals” paragraph. I am a testament to how that is not true. It’s been about 15/16 years for me and these brain zaps still show up, seemingly, out of nowhere for me.

    After reading your article, aside the vitamin deficiency, I can perhaps pinpoint that I’ve not had a good nights sleep in a couple of weeks now but that does not explain previous episodes. I”ll keep an eye on what is happening in my life the next time I have this show up for me. They do eventually subside again over time… but inevitably, return at some later date. Stronger. Sometimes it’s quite painful and extremely annoying.

  • Amy November 7, 2015, 6:35 pm

    Sometimes they never completely go away. In 2005, I quit Effexor cold turkey when I moved and was without a doctor for some time. I didn’t know anything about brain shivers but knew something was very wrong and although I could not describe the unusual sensations, when I googled Effexor withdrawal symptoms, plenty of others had already described it and at least I knew it wasn’t just me. At that time, many doctors didn’t believe in brain shivers.

    Lucky them to have the option to believe or not… But anyway, years later I was still getting mild brain shivers whenever I was sick, or especially tired. I swore off antidepressants after the awful, awful experiences I had with Effexor. However, about a year ago, I had to go on an antidepressant again. They put me on Citalopram which was supposed to be much gentler (and it was).

    Nonetheless, since I came off of it – tapered ever so gradually over the course of several weeks – I immediately started having near-constant brain shivers. They are fairly mild, but they are non-stop. It is a real nuissance and it makes me feel unwell, off balance, out of sorts, etc. I take multivitamins and fish oil already, and perhaps that is why they are “mild” but really, I wish they would just go away.

  • Heidi W November 9, 2015, 3:21 am

    I take 60mg Cymbalta for post nerve damge to my right foot after L5-S1 surgery. Whenever I forget to take my dose at night, I experience “brain zaps” as well, especially the next morning. It is the weirdest and most uncomfortable feeling and I can actually hear the zapping &/or swishing sound in my head when these zaps occur. I seem to also feel dizzy right after this happens.

    The zap reminds myself that I forgot to take my dose. I also decided to go cold turkey once and I turned into one mean & agitated b*tch so I decided that I was better off staying on this medication. Cymbalta definitely helped reduce the pain strikes in my foot which is non curable and more painful than the zaps.

  • Paul November 11, 2015, 4:38 pm

    I briefly took Sertraline 5mg (Zoloft) for about 1.3 months in 2012 for mild depression. I’ve always been wary taking medications but decided to follow my doctor’s advice. After taking about three weeks I decided that I shouldn’t be taking this and saw a few sides effects at that time. My doctor and I then started the weaning process. The last time I ingested this drug was in 11/2012. Today, 11/2015 I still have brain zaps, though they have decreased over time. I currently only notice them from what seems to be a lack of sleep or if I go to bed drunk. Sooo I’ve been living with brain zaps for about 3 years now… when do they stop??

  • Bonnie November 12, 2015, 2:15 pm

    This site has described my symptoms perfectly. I was having trouble explaining it all to my doctors. The question now is that I have not taken any meds for depression, so I wonder what has contributed to my serotonin levels. This site has been so insightful. Thank you!

  • Mike November 13, 2015, 3:02 am

    I am having some wicked zaps right now (actually having a hard time typing) I’ve been on 20mg cipralex for around 8 months. My psychiatrist thought it would be good to switch over to Effexor as my anxiety had lessened which was the sole reason I was on it. And has switched over to more depression symptoms. I’m on a quick taper 5mg drop every 3 days. Today is the last of the cipralex 5mg.

    Tomorrow I start the Effexor 37.5mg for a week then up to 75mg. I hope these pass quick with the new meds. I haven’t been able to accomplish much at work as I almost feel like I have Parkinson’s. Walking or bending over makes my knees feel like they are going to give out. Having a hot bath and relaxing helped up until tonight. Not much seems to be helping right now.

  • Michael November 13, 2015, 6:33 pm

    I started getting these “Brain Zaps” 3 days ago… At first I was very sick to my stomach, throwing up, that lasted about a day and a half…then started to have a pretty bad headache, feels like someone has my head in a vice. Yesterday, day 2 – I started getting these zaps in my head… they come on every few minutes or if I move around a lot… I did go see my doctor she has no idea, has never even heard of this happening… she ordered a CT and have me something for the nausea! These zaps are truly very uncomfortable… anyone know of anyway to get them to stop?

  • fr November 15, 2015, 2:24 am

    I stopped taking klonopin cold turkey about five years ago. I stumbled upon this article and now I know, what the feelings are that I had in my brain. Thank you for this. They stopped, but at one point thought I was dying. They were awful.

  • Becky November 16, 2015, 4:37 pm

    I have been experiencing what I believe are brain zaps for over a year now. I am 40 years old and do not take any medications. I had to quit smoking about two years ago cuz when I would smoke I would pass out with seizure like shaking. I went to the hospital a couple of times with nothing being answered. I have no insurance so I can’t afford to go to the doctors now.

    After stopping smoking I never have had that happen again but now I have the zaps. They happens a lot so much that I am scared to be alone at times. At times when I am driving, or at the store alone. I can describe them as the scariest thing that has ever happened to making me absolutely terrified. Last night I had one so strong that I could feel it into my chest so I decided to check my blood pressure.

    While trying to do my blood pressure I experienced to more zaps back to back and my blood pressure came up 112/84 which it had been as high as 190/116. so that was OK what scared me was this time during the blood pressure it said it detected an irregular heartbeat at the time of the zaps. I have developed anxiety do to overwhelming stress now so I just try to calm myself down when these happen.

    But it is very hard cuz every time these happen I am scared I am going to have a heart attack or a blood clot in my brain. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • anny November 25, 2015, 7:10 pm

      I get exactly the same. All the money I gave to doctors gave me no answers… the vagus nerve syndrome is the closest they got (search for it). Still, as I mentioned to an earlier reply, the only thing that stops the shocks for me is 1/3 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water before or after the first shock. (Or before going to bed if the episodes are more common in bed position).

  • Pilar November 17, 2015, 11:59 am

    I have been suffering brain zaps for one week. They are shivers through my spine and brain that make me feel as someone balance me. It is scary because it always happens while I’m sleeping and I wake up with a feeling of panic. Now that I have read this article I feel better. I have been on Lexapro for 4 years and I gradually stopped it. However, It seems that I have to be back to 5mg dose and do it even slower. The real problem is that they always happen at night and I can not sleep. Everytime I fall asleep the woosh thing vibrated me. Any help?

  • Huib November 19, 2015, 12:29 pm

    I just quit Lexapro 10mg daily. First reduced to 5mg for a week and now stopped completely since 4 days. From day one after stopping altogether I experience brain zaps. Everytime when I move my eyes or head from left to right even just a little, I feel light electricity jolts from my head trough my arms, hands and my legs and feet. The feeling is best felt in my neck and hands. Furthermore I feel like living in a dreamstate / movie and I hear a constant low buzzing sound in my head. Not too bad altogether but if I would not have know what caused it, I would worry a bit. Let’s wait and see when it ends.

  • Paula B November 19, 2015, 5:19 pm

    I have been having brain zaps since 2002, for over 13 years now. I was only on paroxetine for 6 months. A few years ago, I thought they had stopped, but I still get them, mostly when I am tired. So I think it might be linked to sleep rhythms. I take it now as a sign that I need more sleep. They are not nearly so violent as in the early months though, luckily, and much less frequent – they used to come every few seconds for a while.

  • dawn November 20, 2015, 4:04 pm

    I just started viibryd 2 weeks ago, I cant sleep anymore. As soon as I fall asleep I get a huge brain jolt, and it makes my entire body jump. My legs and arms feel like jello and I can’t keep from constantly shaking them. I am starting a low dose of clonazepam to help my anxiety. I haven’t slept more than 3 hrs a night in an entire week, yet im constantly energized. If I’m not constantly doing something, I gotta move, gotta get up, gotta go! It sucks. Good luck to all who are going through this, and good vibes!

    • Vicki November 22, 2015, 2:26 am

      Be well it truly is frustrating!!

  • Vicki November 22, 2015, 2:24 am

    I’m just so frustrated with the so called brain zaps!! It sound like a salt shaker in my head and my neck cracks!!! Pristiq is what I have been on for about 2 years! After the loss of my youngest son I have been on 2 different types! My husband has lost his medical dental due to shortage of work. The cost of this drug would be 100.00 a month!! When you are faced with the choice to go off the meds it’s scary! I’ve been crying have anxiety and these damn head zaps!! I can only hope it stops soon. I wish there was an easier way to get by!! I hope very few are faced with this terrible feeling!!

  • Edwin November 22, 2015, 2:43 pm

    My brain zaps became reduced to 98 percent less occurrences after I had a heart valve replaced. Bad shutting valve created low oxygen levels in blood. Seriously believe that low oxygen levels have a lot to do with with it, and also anything that causes a reduction of oxygen levels like medication and supplements–even meso gold, enzymes, tryptophan etc., can add to the problem. It did in my case.

  • A Olson November 22, 2015, 4:24 pm

    Hello, I am a 35 year old male and I can say with complete certainty that I have been experiencing these zaps for reasons not associated with antidepressants or discontinuation of any medication and I have for quite some time. Yes, I was on a few different antidepressants for a period of about two or three years sporadically with little or no results. So I chose to discontinue the medication and experienced some severe brain zaps like most people have described. But the difference with me is that I experienced this feeling before I was ever prescribed any antidepressants, and I still get the feeling after years of being off of any medications.

    It comes in short severe bursts when I am in situations where I am suddenly in scary situation. An example might be, the last moment when I’m about to introduce myself to an important person, or if I see something on television that from experience makes me anxious like cliff diving or a rodeo. The condition doesn’t have a seriously negative impact on my daily life since it is pretty infrequent, but when it occurs, it is undeniable and severe. I am not one to hastily assign emotional diagnoses or theories to the physical ticks and pains that may be a mystery to me.

    In fact I usually ignore the vast majority of them like most people, but I can tell you with complete certainty that withdrawal from the mentioned types of drugs is not the only source of this condition. I experienced the sensation before antidepressants and now many years after. I had no way to explain it until my withdrawal from antidepressants manufactured the exact same condition ( albeit with much more frequency, but a nearly identical sensation just the same)I just felt that important to share since I’m sure I’m not the only one with this experience that may find it comforting to at least give it a name and possibly share in others experiences. Thanks.

  • Donna James November 23, 2015, 12:12 am

    I am so glad I read this after coming off tramadol. I have experienced brain zaps and minor hallucinations, that is very frightening, just when I thought they were gone, here they came back. Will definitely try fish oil, and vitamin therapy.

  • Vicki November 25, 2015, 3:58 am

    Omg I’ve been off Pristiq for 3 weeks now. Due to cost I’m on Wellbutrin XL. I’m so tired I’m so tired of this salt shaker in my head. Time before I tried to go off them and I was crying, super dizzy, and had brain zaps. It’s heartbreaking that something that was helping me after the passing of my son has stressed me out more than I can stand some days. Shame on drug companies for making impossible to afford.

  • Dave November 27, 2015, 1:00 pm

    Brain Zaps are interesting to say the least and are always the first tell-tale sign of “Oh crap, I forgot to take my Lexapro”. It usually takes a few days off the meds before it happens. Eye movement is the big trigger for me and I generally feel it finger tip to finger tip. It’s bizarre, but tolerable. Walking is the biggest challenge, requiring a steady stare at the ground. I hardly notice it while driving. Adding two more analogies, before I knew “Brain Zap” was a thing, I called it instant tilt-o-whirl or swirlies. The bad part experienced here, the Brain Zaps eventually lead to a Headache+ Brain Zaps… that’s when it’s pretty miserable.

  • Misty November 28, 2015, 4:13 pm

    I too get the brain zaps when I miss my dose of Effexor 150. I have to force myself out of bed. I get very dizzy and have trouble walking. My heart races and I get very hot and sweaty. Horrible feeling, but feel better awhile after taking the missed med.

  • Tommy B November 28, 2015, 10:38 pm

    Like A Olson above, I had brain zaps for years without ever taking antidepressants. 19 years to be exact. Then after an ailment in 2005, my doctor gave me a few samples of Lexapro to get over a bit of stress. Well guess what, no more zaps! I got him to prescribe ’em to me and was delighted. That lasted a long time, but then my insurance forced me to go generic. The generic didn’t work so the zaps are back. I heard of was is called “authorized generic” where the ingredients are the exact same as the name brand. Anyone know if this is available or am I being too naive? I can’t afford nearly $300 a month for Lexapro.

  • Chenae December 1, 2015, 12:42 pm

    Oh the brain zaps!!! They’re awful! I always thought of them as nerve spasms… Or muscle spasms but the muscles never move. I get them throughout my whole body, not just the brain. I’ve been on 150mg of Zoloft for 6 years… I was tapered off them and now have stopped taking them, but I have always suffered with the brain zaps even when missing one dose. It’s hell on earth or hell inside my body.

  • Chaser December 2, 2015, 4:53 am

    Thank you for the info. I’ve battled with these for many years. I had almost decided I was just crazy. Turns out I underwent surgery 6 days ago. I know they gave 10 mg Valium before I went in. Plus, whatever else they knocked me out with.

  • Jake December 2, 2015, 7:30 am

    The comments on this site are very accurate. Moving my eye focus from maximum side to side triggers the brain zaps in day 6 of stopping Effexor 75mg. Down from 150 for 6 years. Days 2 and 3 were the worst. Initially, My brain would zap constantly regardless of what my eyes were doing. Every day is a bit better so don’t give up. If you are considering it: Unless you cannot get out of bed in the morning; do not take this drug. It is heavy sh*t with side effects. Try other natural seritonin boosters first. St. John’s Wort, Sam-e, 5-HTP, kava kava etc. Psychological professionals are paid off for telling you how good they are. Get informed. Make educated decisions. Best of luck to everyone!

  • Todd Vance December 3, 2015, 2:24 am

    With a nurse’s advice, I’m “taking a vacation” from Zoloft. As a result, I feel a sensation in the brain similar to what is mentioned. It’s not all that “electrical” (I’ve been shocked plenty of times in my electrical experiments as a child, I know what that feels like) more like a click (not audible, but felt) for me, not all that severe. It’s like thoughts suddenly being interrupted. I feel like Wile E. Coyote suddenly feeling the need to shake his head while saying yaayeyaayeyaayeyaayeyaa before getting his act back together. Doesn’t hurt, just feels strange.

  • Claire Clifford-Fennell December 4, 2015, 8:23 pm

    I had been taking Prozac for approximately 5 years – I wanted to come off them as I felt they had taken over my life – low libido, and a feeling like I was a slave to them. I took my last pill approximately 2 weeks ago. I had weaned myself off from one 20mg pill a day to one every 5 days. It took me 6 months.

    I had tried to do this before but went back on them because I felt awful. Last week wasn’t too bad for brain zaps, but this week they are frequent. I liken them to being ‘dropped’ from a height! Also like ‘tripping’ – sort of like when you go past some trees with the sun flickering the other side. Although they are really annoying, they are not affecting my life!

    So the plan is to give it another 2 weeks, then give 5HTP a go – just small doses. Wish me luck! What I would like to say is if you are offered Prozac for your depression, be very sure it is what you need. When I first started taking it, it was great, I was happy and it was like a miracle. After a while it was more of a hindrance than a help and getting off them was a nightmare.

    I missed a pill one day, and had a psychotic episode where I wanted to hurt my family, and also wanted to hurt myself. It was the worse day of my life. So before taking drugs from your Doctor, take a while to research and see if you really need to take them. I would say three years have been ‘stolen’ from me because of Prozac. Be careful guys.

    In addition, I feel I am not the only one thinking that GP’s are encouraged to offer these drugs to keep the pharmaceutical companies in business – not just a problem in the UK then by the sounds of it! I don’t really trust Doctors – they collude with the drug companies…you learn the hard way eh! Good luck and best wishes to you all.

  • Krystal December 6, 2015, 8:51 am

    I really feel like I need to share my brain zap “remedy.” I was on Paxil for 1 year when my insurance lapsed. I thought no biggie, I just have to wait a few weeks before it’s taken care of. I ran out of my meds but figured I’d be good a couple of weeks. Oh my! I was soooo wrong! The withdrawals and brain zaps from that drug were horrendous…at first I didn’t know why I got so sick but after two trips to the ER I finally realized it was my lack of meds.

    I suffered for 16 days. Finally got to see my Dr where she then transferred me to Zoloft. Took that at 100mg for a couple of years then decided I would wean off. That’s what we (my dr and I) decided. It took months to do this. I got down to 5mg and then eventually stopped. However, my brain zaps still came about two days after I stopped. I tried the fish oil and even krill oil with a B complex vitamin but did not work for me.

    I was going on five days of hell and about to just tap out and get back on the Zoloft when I seen something about 5-HTP herbal supplement helping with brain shocks/zaps. It said this stuff helped with withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants but just be sure to get a good brand. At the time the one I could remember was Natrol and I got it at 100mg. IT HELPED BIG TIME!!!

    It’s going to be one week since I’ve been taking this stuff and it soooo helped me. The first day I got it I was getting hammered with brain zaps like literally back to back. Took this pill and within the hour they stopped. So I have been taking it as directed and I’m good!! I only took one today in the morning and I didn’t need to at night because I feel fine. I really swear by this supplement because it helped me. I hope this helps someone else out…you’re definitely not alone. -Xo

  • stephen December 7, 2015, 3:03 pm

    I can tell you that I get brain zaps from eye movement side to side. I have just tapered off Effexor and the brain zaps are the worst feeling in the world. it woke me up last night I assume it was the movement of the eyes going into rem sleep. I am going to try the fish oil and see if that helps. I have been on SSRI’s for 15 years along with antipsychotics for the last 3 years and now I am going to try natural supplements as I am sick of being in a haze and having no emotions anymore. I am glad I found this site this morning. just thought I would give you some insight on the eye movement and brain zaps it does happen with me.

  • Pam December 8, 2015, 10:21 am

    I have been off of Paxil for two years now and am still having these “brain zaps”. Some nights are worse than others and it leads me to believe that this is a permanent condition. I fear nothing will end them except being forced back onto medication.

  • Rebekah December 10, 2015, 7:21 am

    What a relief to find this site! But sadly I have been off antidepressants for since 2008 & I am still dealing with the electrocution spider webbing feeling that jolts from the top of my head all the way down to my feet. The dizziness is still as strong as ever with the burst each time. I have been woken up out of a deep sleep also. The feeling creates such intense pain that I have had to go to the ER on numerous occasions.

    The drs look at me like I’m nuts & will not help me so, I have to lie to them for help. I get treated with pain meds & nausea meds & this helps. The pain has been so bad at times that I felt I couldn’t take it anymore & contemplated taking my life. But while on the antidepressants the pain got worse & drs started increasing the dose of depressants & every time they did I became unstable, extreme violent behavior & almost lost my family.

    My pain management facility said it was in my head & KEPT increasing the dose. I finally weened myself off of them. I then was discharged from ALL treatment & deemed Looney when in actuality none of my 7 specialist would help me. They put in the computer system that I was a sociopath & a bad patient all because of their error! So finding this has given me great relief just to know I am not alone. But my symptoms have remained almost the same. It has gotten just a little better from all day long non stop to a few times a day, getting worse at night.

    Though Atarax & Baclofen help. I found fish oil to be pointless, but ADHD meds (Vyvanse) have deemed beneficial with b-12. It doesn’t give a speed effect it actually helps with the constant misfires & migraines! But as of to them stopping, no. I see no light at the end of tunnel & I cannot work due to the severity.

  • Kevin December 11, 2015, 5:23 am

    Hi all. Just wanted to add my experience to this discussion. I have been taking citalopram for a few years now. And Adderall for about half that time. I am in my 40s. I graduated from an Ivy League law school, then worked at a firm for a long time. A few years ago, when lots of things were mounting up in the personal life, and it was affecting work, as well, I allowed others to convince me to try an antidepressant. Hence, the citalopram.

    The good news, of course, is that it does in fact seem to muffle the depression – at least for a while. I do think, however, that for me it has felt like just making myself be less bothered by things that SHOULD bother me. And then given my spouse and others even more reason to think I have “issues” and that, if I’m not satisfied with the way things are going, I probably just need a different medicine or dosage or something.

    Anyway, on the issue of brain zaps and withdrawal… I have had several experiences with what seems to be generally described as “brain zaps.” I’m not sure the name zaps is the best description in a name, but the posts here and elsewhere describe a range of experiences under this name. I first started noticing that, if I forgot my daily dose of citalopram, I would wake up the next day with what I have seen a few others describe as “swishy eyes.”

    No jolts or pulses of the brain were apparent, but moving my eyes produced what seemed to be a sound – like I could literally hear my eyes moving. And it was really only when moving them left and right. Not so much up and down. Within the last month or so, I’ve had trouble refilling my prescription (insurance change + mail order = surprise). I was busy at work on a couple of things, and ultimately had two separate one-week periods without citalopram.

    The sensations inside my head have been unbelievably distracting, annoying, troubling, etc. Getting work done and dealing with other people have been impossible. Things still seem closely tied to eye movement a lot of the time. But the fog is heavy, and the pulses/brain flashes are now much more prominent and no longer limited to the initial period after waking up. (Basically, they would be limited before because taking that next day’s pill would end the withdrawal period after only a day.)

    I have fixed the mail order situation and am supposed to have my refill any day now. But honestly, if this is how some people are living several years after even tapered withdrawal, there really should be more control over who prescribes these medications and under what circumstances.

  • Lucas December 11, 2015, 7:41 am

    I’ve experienced these brain zaps numerous times and I just thought they were normal withdrawal symptoms from adderall and/or lexapro. Best description I can give is like my brain is skipping as a CD would, coupled with whoosh sounds. Another description could be someone is doing a soft drum roll on my brain.

  • Chrissyrcp December 13, 2015, 1:07 am

    I’ve been having moderate to intense brain zaps although I am not discontinuing any medications. I make sure to take my meds at the same time everyday and night to prevent brain zaps, but they still keep coming. Any suggestions?

    • Did December 24, 2015, 6:45 am

      Try cutting caffeine and walking at least 20 minutes.

  • cmerf2015 December 14, 2015, 4:11 am

    I get brain zaps if I move my eyes to the left. I also noticed that I get them on the days my eyes cannot focus properly and I am lethargic. I am on Pregabalin but have had them pre-pregabalin. I am starting to get forgetful. I also have involuntary movements.

  • deedee December 15, 2015, 6:38 am

    I have been having brain zaps for months. At first they were scary but now I find them oddly pleasurable. I take antidepressants now for over 20 years and I also take gabapentin and a pain med with a muscle relaxer for DD Disease. I never knew what I was having until tonight. I have been having strange headaches lately during the day and zaps at night. I cant help but admit I was scared I was having pre seizure symptoms.

    I haven’t discussed any of this with my family doc yet but will now. All I can say is learn to relax as the zaps are happening. When you don’t fight them, they don’t last so long, and are as I said earlier, strangely nice. I have suffered with insomnia for 4 years now and when I have a zap I know I am going into a deep sleep finally. – DeeDee

  • Greg December 22, 2015, 12:58 am

    I have been experiencing a swishing sounds and mild ringing in the ears. I hope it goes away soon, and I will not go on another antidepressant until it does go away. I weaned off of Venlafaxine ER (Effexor XR) 150 mg. I took my last 37.5 mg pill a week ago after a tapering down from my highest dose at 150 mg. After having an unwanted pressure in my ears side-effect over a few weeks, I decided that the med was not worth the side effect of ear pressure.

    To reiterate, I only took 150 mg for 3 weeks, and my total time on Venlafaxine ER was 10 weeks, with the last 3 weeks being 150 mg. I am clean from other meds (I do not take other prescription meds), so there are no other substances that could cause the symptom. Anyway, after weaning off the med completely, I have the swishing sound when moving my eyes and mild ringing (tinnitus).

    It is a swishing sound; usually 3 quick “swish-swish” sounds when moving my eyes. Is this a withdrawal symptom and does it go away? I hope I did not cause life-long mild ringing (tinnitus) and swishing sounds in the ears just from trying and then weaning off this medication! It is interesting that the swishing sounds are more frequent when moving my eyes from side-to-side.

    • Susan January 24, 2016, 3:32 am

      I’ve been having this ‘swishing sound’ or brain zap for a few months. I’m getting off Prestiq. I was on 50mg once a day. I’m now on 25 once a day. After a couple of weeks, I’m going down to every other day. I am doing this with my doctor.

      I thought this was something only I was having. My ‘zaps’ are usually in the morning and evening. When I get up in the morning they seem to be there every day. I want so much to get rid of them. I hope they will eventually go away once I’m off Pristiq. I would so like to get off these mind altering meds… lamotrigine and pristiq.

      I also take Xanax .05 pretty much just to sleep and have been taking it for over 20 years. It helped me with anxiety attacks at first. I was able to overcome those crippling attacks and kept using the Xanax to give me a good night’s sleep. You are not alone.

  • CaraB December 23, 2015, 5:09 am

    I have experienced brain zaps from trazodone in the past but more recently have started tapering off of cymbalta. This medication is an awful medication for this and many other withdrawal symptoms. Although I have been tapering slowly the brain zaps are still quite annoying. The moving the eyes from side to side surely does spark one. I hope anyone else who is experiencing these knows that it will pass in time and you are most certainly not alone!

  • Did December 24, 2015, 6:44 am

    I thought I had the flu! Or it was the pizza from the bowling alley – ha! I’m 3 days off 15mg of Paxil and have had brain zaps today throughout the day. I was also nauseous all day. I smoked a little marijuana and it helped some, but I should not have had caffeine. I think that’s something that can encourage brain zaps. I’ll try having a small amount tomorrow and no marijuana and see if it helps. I’ll also go on a long walk and hope it helps.

  • James mingus December 29, 2015, 3:21 pm

    My wife sent me here. You folks are dead on. I thought it was only me going through these. I’ve been on Cymbalta for 6 years now at high dosages. I’ve come to rely on it to hold down my job and function normally. I don’t know if this works but it’s drastically cut down the frequency of my own brain zaps: I play scrabble on my iPad every evening before bed. That’s it. It seems to work for me and I can feel my brain focusing on the letters and not everything else around me. Try it or find your own way to cope. One day I too will wean myself off. Glad to know I’m not the only one. Great site!

  • Janet December 29, 2015, 9:54 pm

    I have been having electrical shock sensations randomly for about a year. I have never been on any of the meds that are said to cause it. My only meds are for high blood pressure. I started getting them after I was physically attacked with my head smashed into the sidewalk numerous times during an attempt to take my life. A few months later I had a blood clot that took about 8 months to clear.

    I developed lingering memory problems (trying to recall simple words I have always known) and have to this day some short term recall problems. I also have these “brain zaps” and dizzy spells that come out of nowhere and for no apparent reason. Can’t get my Dr to take it seriously or check for anything so I just changed Dr’s. Maybe cause for many people ISN’T meds. I’m not on meds that supposedly cause this, so what is happening?

  • Sharon Ketchum December 30, 2015, 9:21 pm

    I am about three weeks into withdrawal from Lexapro and Wellbutrin and feel terrible. I’m experiencing the whole list of symptoms. I’m glad to find out the brain zaps will eventually go away. However the zaps have been present even before I stopped taking the meds. I have experienced them for years. Is that “normal”?

  • Natalie December 31, 2015, 2:53 pm

    6 years on Effexor, finally behind me. Tapered without a bridge for a month. Even having three little white balls a day were working on keeping the brain zaps away. Very strong drug. First two days drug free were exhausting with the brain fog and constant brain zaps, tiredness and irritability. Finally found this post in a moment of desperation.

    Day three not as foggy waking up but straight to the chemist on day 3 for the vitamin B complex much better than just B12, fish oil and liquid iron. Iron is good for dizzy spells and weakness and fatigue. Took three vitamins but only 1 iron. Lots of water, less coffee for the day and a nice ninja drink with coconut water, cucumber, ice, mint and lime. Sat in the sun, enjoyed my children, feel clearer after 30 mins.

    Went through the NYE festivities making sure I loaded up on steak and another dose of Liquid iron. One big glass of wine later. Feeling really good. Brain zap has now diminished to a dull face fuzz feeling. I can move my head sharp to either side and the feeling has left my brain and now my cheeks feeling a little fuzzy but no noise or zap feeling. Totally bearable. Not as tired as the last few nights and not as irritable.

    This evening I even forgot about the zaps as I hadn’t felt it for a few hours. Looking forward to waking up tomorrow even more clearer. Stick with it guys. Each day in is another day behind you. Tomorrow I will have 1 iron for the day, three fish oil and 2 B-complex. Keep that up over the weekend then cease the iron and do 2 of each vitamin. We can do this guys!

  • Gena January 1, 2016, 8:58 am

    For me, I describe them as an arcing current running across my brain from the right frontal lobe to the left frontal lobe and I feel AND hear the sound of electricity as it “arcs”. It lasts maybe a second or less. I have had these for years…but not often. Maybe a couple times a year. I do not take antidepressants, and I am not a depressed personality. So it is not that. I figure if it was going to kill me I would already be dead. I would, however, like to know why I get them.

    I can have one when I am laying down or standing. It seems to happen when I am not being very active, and I don’t seem to have them when I am communicating with anyone. But I have had them while laying or sitting on the couch watching TV – zzzzzztttt. Over. I am not disabled in any way by it. I don’t go into a trance like state or anything. It just comes and goes for no apparent reason. Does this sound similar to anyone else?

  • Brendan January 2, 2016, 4:16 am

    I have these brain zaps whenever I move my eyes as far as a can to the left. It’s not uncomfortable for me as it will stop as soon as I move them slightly back. Sometimes I even enjoy doing it as it feels similar to an orgasm. I have never been on any kind of antidepressant either. I just assumed it was normal for some reason.

  • Jim D. January 2, 2016, 4:41 am

    What I am experiencing is constant Brain Shock (on-going without interruption). This all started after having Thyroid Surgery in October 2015. The sensation is so severe, I feel as though I’m losing my mind.

  • tom t January 4, 2016, 3:41 pm

    My brain zaps occurred in ’78, ’90, ’99, and now (along with other weird symptoms). Sometimes I awaken in the night, and in the half second while my brain is ‘switching over’ from sleep, I feel an electric buzz from my brain down my arms and torso – somewhat like an unpleasant adrenaline rush. When it first occurred I was on no drugs whatsoever. First 2 times happened in period after I had sudden cramps and complete emptying of bowels, which left me feeling ‘wiped out’ for months. Some Drs. think I’m crazy, but I’m not!

  • Patricia January 4, 2016, 9:53 pm

    I have been dealing with “Brain Zaps” for the last several weeks. After reading these articles I’m convinced it’s because I’m under a lot of pressure and anxiety. Four years ago I had seizures and was put on anti seizure medication, I also take zoloft. I have had the brain zaps off and on for probably 20 years. When I mentioned this to my neurologist he had no idea what I talking about. I do take vitamins, and fish oil. Wondering if anti anxiety med might be the answer.

  • Liz January 4, 2016, 10:34 pm

    Thanks goodness these Zaps are not permanent. I’m a week into Citalopram withdrawal and the Zaps have been horrible today, especially when moving my head. I forced myself to go to an exercise class which really helped. Didn’t notice them whilst working out and they have really subsided this evening. I have got a headache mind 👎🏻

    • Buster April 1, 2016, 12:24 am

      They scare me; I find they seem to happen when I am not thinking about them. How long were you on Celexa?

  • Suzanne Discartin January 5, 2016, 7:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. I went off Zoloft 100 mg cold turkey after 22 years. I have had all of the symptoms discussed here, all pretty mild, and am looking for relief before my vacation ends next week. Omega III oils and B12 are definitely something I will try. I don’t want to ever take psychotropic drugs of any kind ever again.

    Even given the mild nature of my symptoms, if I had known about them before starting Zoloft, I would not have started taking it. I wasn’t seriously depressed or anxious. It’s not worth it. A word of advice: Think twice and explore other options before taking anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications. I can’t wait to be completely rid of them.

  • Louise Basher January 7, 2016, 5:30 am

    I’m trying to come off Effexor XR 75mg dose for almost 6 years. I’m doing the tapering method by tediously counting beads. I’m down to 58mg and don’t consider myself very successful at it. I feel dreadful most days, and the vertigo and brain zaps are the worst of all the other side effects. I wish I’d never gone on this dreadful drug. No one warned me or even made any mention of how difficult it would be to come off.

  • Marian January 10, 2016, 12:22 am

    I began having “brain zaps” ( I called them head zots) several years ago, following a bronchial infection for which I was treated with an OTC cough medicine and an antibiotic. I have never taken an antidepressant. At the same time I had been moving and carried some heavy boxes up a flight of stairs. I sought chiropractic treatment and, interestingly, it stopped the brain zaps. Occasionally, they return, but cease again when I resume the chiropractic treatments, so feel I may have damaged some nerves when lifting the heavy boxes.

  • E January 10, 2016, 9:32 am

    It feels like electrical shocks going through the body, not my brain. Especially when I move or turn. In the chest, face, hands, heart, body. Electric pulses in the hands, numbing in the hands and face, electric pulses in the body. But all in short, split second shocks. Uncomfortable. Happen to be coming off of citalopram, thought I tapered enough. But also felt these short term in years prior to this. Anxiety may be a trigger. Just read this and took fish oil pill and B complex sublingual vitamins, will see. Thank you, good wishes to everyone.

  • Ishmael January 10, 2016, 11:55 pm

    Im finding that exercise (very hard to do with the jolting sensations) Omega-3’s, B12, normalizing blood sugar, and pleasurable activity – minimize them. Restore homeostasis (body balance) by any means possible.

    • Mary February 21, 2016, 11:05 pm

      Me too. I’m working out hard and it works, but the night time is the worst. Zaps are bad and finding it difficult to sleep.

  • Barbarella January 12, 2016, 4:06 pm

    I have had my med changed from 150 mg of Effexor twice a day for 2 years to viibryd. Started at a low dose of 10 mg to move up to 20mg next week. I also take neurotin 300 mg three times a day and kolonipin .5 once daily as needed. I was not gradual taking off Effexor but went from it straight to the low dose of Viibryd 4 days ago. And for three now I have been having these zaps all day long. Seconds apart!

    It is driving me crazy. I hope that when I move up to the 20 mg on Saturday it will go away!!! I don’t know how much more of this I can take! At first it was just the zaps as a feeling but now I’m actually starting to hear am them loud at times, and see the flash if that makes sense. I had them once before in the pass when I ran out of Effexor but they were not this bad, only a couple an hour probably.

    The zaps doesn’t hurt me just drives me crazy because I can hardly function. I can’t not take my meds whereas, I’m bipolar and also sufferer from MDD, and PTSD. Just hope I never have to have a med change again if I ever make it through this!!! So glad I’m not alone in this! I really thought I was losing my mind…

  • Elisha Capriz January 13, 2016, 12:35 am

    I’m experiencing these zaps but I’ve got them by methods I shouldn’t be subscribing to. I’m 38, smoked meth for ten years, addicted for like 4. Been doing it since I was a teen off and on. Hasn’t been a problem stopping only now when I do it leads to these brain zaps. That’s why now it’s harder to quick and I call myself an addict. I’m going to try the b-12 and omega 3 fish oil. Thank you for your site. It’s reassuring to hear other people going through what you are. It means a lot.

  • Linda Meredith January 15, 2016, 2:46 am

    January 14, 2016. Before I found a good doctor who put me on Effexor at the right dosage, I had a doctor who was afraid you’d get hooked on the drugs. He gave me the lowest dosage of meds and could not understand why it was not helping me. I had the Brain Zaps on a regular schedule. Every day every minute. Every time I moved my head.

    Was sent to several doctors for testing because of the zaps and severe migraine headaches. One told me my imagination was causing it. But no one understands it. After three years of this. Found a good doctor. Still have occasional zaps, but nothing like before. A second opinion doesn’t hurt.

  • Linda January 17, 2016, 12:17 pm

    I have had these brain zaps for years, particularly bad this morning. I am on antidepressants (sertraline) but I am not coming off them. Why am I getting these zaps? Quite frightening. They make me dizzy and unstable on my feet, glad I found this.

  • MJ January 17, 2016, 2:17 pm

    I’m currently tapering Effexor XR 37.5 mg. I’ve only been on it for a couple of months and have been tapering it down for a few weeks now, adding a day between doses until I’m now taking it every three days. The brain zaps started this morning. I’m already taking B12, so I’m going to try adding fish oil. Effexor has helped me in the past but just wasn’t working this time. Other than the zaps, I feel fine, physically and emotionally.

  • John January 18, 2016, 4:25 pm

    I’m not on any medication at all except daily vitamins. I appreciate the article especially since I had two “zaps” this morning and my first thought was stroke. Mine happen behind my left ear usually.

  • Sandra Dorsey January 21, 2016, 6:35 am

    I am currently 4 days off Cymbalta. I tapered down for about a month prior. Today the zaps were worse. Feeling frustrated and angry that this is happening and may go on for a long time. I have been on antidepressants for over 25 years. Starting with Prozac. Doctors and psychiatrists that I have seen have never informed me of this. They always said I should just stay on meds.

  • Jayne January 22, 2016, 2:57 pm

    I’ve been on cymbalta for years for major depression and fibromyalgia. I have not changed my dosage but get brain zaps everyday. Very disheartening. I am going to try to wean down the dosage and see if they level out eventually… thinking its a side effect.

  • Susan January 24, 2016, 3:37 am

    For those trying to cut back on Pristiq… there is now a 25 mg. I came down from 50 mg and then I will go every other day and they slowly stop taking them. I’m doing it with my doctor’s advice. Hope that will stop these.

  • chandranag January 25, 2016, 6:41 am

    I have what I now know are Brain Zaps. I am unlucky enough to have very very severe attacks where I have had to give up driving. I am taking Tegretol and they started just before I was diagnosed with MS. If you could tell me a drug to take that doesn’t have the side effects of Tegretol, that would be wonderful. Thank you.

  • Christy January 25, 2016, 5:14 pm

    I just quit Duloxetine cold turkey but I was only taking this for about 5 months, though it worked wonders I just didn’t want to have to rely on meds the rest of my life. I am experiencing these zaps quite often, they don’t hurt but they make me woozy and my ears can hear these airy sounding zaps each time, it’s driving me insane. I hope this goes away soon, I’ve been off meds for about about 9-10 days and I’ve been trying to stay at home to avoid this in public.

    • achey February 6, 2016, 2:52 pm

      That is exactly how I feel. What a spot-on description… an airy sound in ears. It is horrid, but so pleased to read your post, and know I am not alone. I wonder how long they will last, any ideas? I do not want to go back on sertraline again!!!

  • Jade January 25, 2016, 9:53 pm

    I recently tapered off Zoloft. I was on 50mg per day. I took my last half dose a couple of days ago. Brain zaps are in full force now. I feel the brain zaps even worse when I move my eyes really fast. I describe it as my vision is “stalling out”. Almost like it takes a moment or two for my vision to refocus after I switch what I’m looking at. I could always tell if I skipped a day or two (new mom, so it happened a lot), because I would get brain zaps.

  • Nancy January 26, 2016, 1:57 pm

    Stomach and Brain Zaps. I had my first go round with brain zaps after going off a antidepressant cold turkey. That was years ago. I am having zaps again. I am seeing a big connection with not having healthy gut flora and these zaps. The stomach/brain connection is real. Bloating and digestive issues are causing them for me now.

  • Grier January 26, 2016, 3:00 pm

    I recently went cold turkey after taking Lexapro (Escitalopram) For a few months and I have found these ‘Brain Zaps’ to be very troublesome and cannot wait for them to pass. Just moving my head or standing up seems to cause the jolt to happen and sometimes it will be multiple ‘jolts’ before it can regulate.

    This symptom is the only one I have and it didn’t occur right away, it seemed to pop up about a week after I had stopped my use of Lexapro and all I can say is that I feel impaired. I am unable to do just about anything because of it, although I do not feel pain with the ‘Brain Zaps’ they are still very debilitating.

  • Ivy January 30, 2016, 2:06 am

    I am having brain zaps today but I have taking my Lexapro everyday. I did miss two days last week – not back to back but separated by a day. I am getting them when I drink water through a straw, when walking and I tried the eye moving back and forth and sure enough I got them. My best friend who is a nurse said that even missing those 2 days could cause they zaps.

    Been a frustrating day with the because I feel so off kilter with them. Hoping a good nights sleep will get rid of them Thankful to see that this could be the cause. If they continue though I am calling the doc. Anyone else have the zaps when not coming off anxiety meds?

  • Steve Quinn January 30, 2016, 4:10 am

    I thank God for finding this page and the comments associated with it. I tried to tell my Doctor what was happening and what it felt like but she figures I have a vertigo problem. She’s wrong. I feel like my brain is being fried every time I go to bed at night. It reminds me of when I was young and stuck a finger in a light socket because that’s what my head feels like.

    Not a problem when I’m standing or functioning like a normal person but once I go to bed for the night, all hell breaks loose. Even a creak in the floor or any small noise cause me to be “zapped.” I had just updated my will because I figured the next step was a major stroke then death. I do not understand why I’m experiencing these things except I have been taking Chantix and these things started about the time I started that medication.

    I just flat-out stopped the Chantix 3 days ago but haven’t noticed any improvement in brain activity. But now I know this condition probably isn’t dangerous so I can relax and maybe laugh at them when they happen.

  • Colin January 30, 2016, 10:49 am

    I’ve been off Cymbalta 60mg for 10 days cold turkey. It’s an evil medication, the withdrawal symptoms are intense from brain zaps to nausea and aggression, lack of appetite to headaches and pain all over. Tuna in natural oils with a salad seems to help me a bit. Maybe it works for someone else.

    • SP March 3, 2016, 8:00 pm

      I agree! Cymbalta is not what it’s advertised to be.

  • Steve February 2, 2016, 8:20 am

    I had chronic shocks for around three months following self weaning off antidepressants. However, it’s now been at least five years and I am still experiencing them in my sleep. I have worn a sleep monitor for a week and my average nightly sleep duration is 3 hours 29 minutes. Whilst in seemingly unending restless sleep, shocks and dizziness are constant. Can anyone please help?

  • Nick February 5, 2016, 6:22 am

    I switched from a 150mg dose of Effexor (which I was on for a year, a 75mg dose for a year prior) to a 40mg dose of Viibryd. It wasn’t until I started with Viibryd that I began to feel these “zaps”. It’s almost immediately after the 24 hour mark that I get them. Now I’m supplementing the Viibryd with 100mg of Welbutrin… and it still happens.

    For me, it’s usually before I go to bed and it always starts with me looking to the side quickly. The zap always starts in my left ear and ends in my right ear. It’s not painful really, but it does either temporarily paralyze or shake me (the more tired and past my 24 hours I am, the worse the zaps get). If you have ever had wind in your ears, that’s the beginning and end of the sensation for me.

    It shakes my ear drums. The rest is similar to an electric muscle stimulator on the highest setting (I, for one, enjoy those… so maybe my tolerance for the zaps are high!) These usually last only about 2 seconds. The worst one I had lasted about 30-45 seconds, and all I remember was my whole body was convulsing… I was also at the 30 hour mark…

  • Joanne February 6, 2016, 5:32 pm

    Started weaning off Paxil in October. Figured when you’re only taking 1/2 tablet every week to ten days it’s safe to stop. It’s February and haven’t had a pill in a couple of weeks. These “zaps” are unbearable at times. These drugs can be your saviour but they also lose their efficiency after time and then you have to come off them. It is a terrible feeling and one I do not ever plan to experience again!

  • Nicole February 6, 2016, 9:24 pm

    I’m happy to have read this, it was helpful, I’ve been trying to taper off Paxil 20mg for almost a month now.. I tapered then the zaps hit with nausea and irritability, so I tapered more slowly, now I only deal with the zaps. I’m hoping I’ll lose the extra weight I gained while on this stuff too, it helped with my anxiety in the beginning but I’m ready to get it all out of my system…

  • Kate February 9, 2016, 1:26 am

    I was on Prozac for about two months. I stopped taking it immediately once I realized it was causing me to be more suicidal. Ever since I’ve had these brain shocks and I had no idea what was going on. For the past 2 & 1/2 I’ve been feeling like this and thinking I was going crazy. Im happy to see I’m not the only one experiencing this.

  • Worried February 9, 2016, 8:00 pm

    Discontinued taking Lexapro 10mg after being on it for three months. Immediately started having these brain zaps. It has been almost 3 weeks of being off Lexapro and I still get the zaps at least 30 times a day. Some days I’ll go with only having them a few times a day but others it’s absolutely horrible. I didn’t stop my medication because I wanted to but because my insurance ran out. I’ve being taking fish oil by mouth twice daily for a week now and no results of helping these brain zaps.

  • Neil Stephenson February 9, 2016, 9:05 pm

    Ivy (Jan 30th 2016) and Nick (Feb 5th 2016) Thank you so much for your comments! Until now, I thought I was the only one who got them DURING treatment! I’m on Sertraline (200mg per day, the max or so I’m told) and have been for the past 9 months or so. I did once forget to take them for two days running, but that was back in November last year.

    Like others, mine goes from left to right between the ears sort of. They’re not painful to me, however, like everyone else, they are disconcerting and make you feel dizzy. With me it’s especially worse when I’m walking and have my head up, or move it suddenly, otherwise I just keep my head pointed to the ground, which isn’t ideal (then again, there are 3 citizens around here whom are perhaps grateful that I do; whilst walking that way (head down).

    I found their debit cards and handed them in! LOL. I digress. I don’t know if anyone else has this, too, but when I take a hot bath (I have no access to a shower unfortunately), The ‘Zaps’ double in frequency and often stay that way for the duration of the day. Thank you though for whoever mentioned fish oil and/or taking B vitamins though, as my diet isn’t the best (I’m on a very low income) and maybe it’s that??

    P.S. Kate (Feb 9th 2016, err, TODAY! lol). It isn’t unusual for ANY antidepressants to make you feel suicidal during the first couple of weeks, it even says so on the packaging leaflet. Just make sure you have someone who can help you through it if possible (I didn’t but I wish I had, though of course, I’m still here). I would strongly recommend you get medical advice just to be sure that you don’t need anything; not taking them might be even worse depending on your circumstances, of course. Good luck either way to everyone here!

  • Alexis February 11, 2016, 4:49 am

    I am so glad I found this site. I am currently working through brain zaps myself due to being off of paxil while my doctor takes a few days to order a prescription for me. It is torture and here is my experience of brain zaps: Like a jolt of electricity running through my body at least once a minute. I lose my hearing during this jolt, my vision goes blurry, I nearly fall over from dizziness, my heart feels like it stops and my palms sweat.

    They start after about 10 hours of being off of my SSRI and don’t stop until a full 24 hours AFTER I get back on my medication. Brain zaps are the exact words I have been looking for. Thank you.

  • grace February 11, 2016, 9:56 pm

    Grateful for the support and solidarity. Went cold turkey off 50mg zoloft after 14 months of use. I realized how numb I had become, and I didn’t want the weight gain or the lack of any sort of drive (sexual or otherwise) any longer. The zaps are terrible, and pretty intense. Like 110 volts flashing through my head every couple minutes (uncomfortable, but not necessarily painful).

    Prolonged screen time seems to exacerbate them significantly, but my job requires me to work on computer all day, so what’s a gal to do? The worst part is having to hide my withdrawal from my partner and my co-workers. The first couple days were the hardest, as my brain was super foggy and the intense jolts made it hard to hold a thought together.

    I’m 2 weeks out, and while the zaps aren’t quite as strong and disorienting as they were in the first couple days, they’re still as frequent which is hard to deal with. I want to believe that this will go away, and am still kind of scared that it won’t. Aerobic (high heart rate) exercise seems to help.

    I don’t really notice them when I’m doing aerobics, which may be the only time of day I get 100% relief, and they’re less intense after I work out. I was taking a magnesium supplement in the first week which, now that I’ve forgotten to take it for a few days and the zaps are ramping up a bit, I realize may have been helping. I’m wondering if anyone else has had the same experience? Thank you all for sharing your stories.

  • Amilea February 12, 2016, 1:46 am

    Wow! I was wondering what was going on with me. As soon as I read that first line I knew this was talking about me. I thought I just had vertigo, but there constant shocks just seem different. I’m currently out of my medication so I’m guessing this is why I’m experiencing this. Everytime I walk or sit, turn my head my head just gets these electric shocks. Feels like one side of my fave is going left and the other right. It makes me a little unbalanced and dizzy but I manage. Thanks for this explanation.

  • John B February 13, 2016, 1:50 am

    I stopped taking Prozac around the 1st of January. I believe I was misdiagnosed Bipolar and severe anxiety. I started having very strong suicidal thoughts and temptations. I never have been suicidal in my life. I decided to stop taking the medication instantly without the recommended taper. For the first couple weeks, I did not experience any adverse side effects.

    However right around the 3rd week of being off the Prozac, I started experience some pretty intense brain zaps. They are still happening on a pretty regular basis. Also, I have noticed that now I have tinnitus… which also sucks. I feel I was misled on what exactly these effects were.

  • Lizzy February 13, 2016, 2:16 am

    I have been on Effexor for almost 6 years. I am currently going off of it. I was bumped up to 225 mg XR and that is the dosage that I have been going off of. My psychiatrist tapered my dose every week, lowering it by 50%. So I went from 225 to 150, then 150 to 75, then 75 to 37.5, and now I am on nothing. The brain zaps are SEVERE, happening at high frequencies throughout the day.

    A lot of times it’s my eyes shaking (if that makes sense) and it seems like my insides are shivering. Can anyone recommend anything that can help these zaps? Since they aren’t a “normal” headache, no over the counter pain pills have been helping and I simply do not know what to do anymore. The mood swings and zaps are getting to be too much to handle. Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated.

  • Alastair February 15, 2016, 3:45 pm

    At the risk of sounding weird, I actually like my brain zaps. I’ve taken SSRI’s most winters for SAD for over 15 years. Every year when it’s time to stop, the zaps appear and last for a couple of weeks. I’ve got used to them now and sort of enjoy the sensations. It may be the fact that I’ve had loud tinnitus for 30 years, so I’m used to brain noise.

    This year I was put on an SNRI because it was supposed to help with pain from 2 broken vertebrae. I stopped taking them 8 days ago and the result is much stronger zaps than normal. Maybe this is due to norepinephrine? As to longevity – time will tell, but I’m not overly concerned because they will eventually fade and in the meantime I’ll enjoy the zzt,zzt,zzt (if you practice enough you can control the speed and loudness of the zaps with your eyes, which is sort of cool.)

  • Mary February 15, 2016, 6:01 pm

    A few months ago I sent off Effexor (150) which I had taken for over 20 years. I thought I was losing my mind until I found this article about “Brain Zaps”. It’s nice to know there is light at the end of the tunnel and I am going to be OK.

    The zaps have been extreme to a point that I am bouncing off the wall when I get up out of bed. Stopping and thinking before I try to move is the best medicine. Am going to pick up some fish oil today and try it. Use to take but haven’t for about six months.

  • Amy M February 16, 2016, 3:15 pm

    I am now on day 4 of no longer taking Cymbalta. In the past, I haven’t made it more than 2 days because if the severity of my “brain zaps”. This time, however, I am sticking it out. Last night, as I tried to go to sleep, the zaps were so bad I would immediately wake up. My zaps are definitely triggered more by moving my eyes back and forth.

    It’s a buzzing, swishing noise that I hear internally, simultaneously with vertigo. I have had a few crying episodes as well so far. Shame on the manufacturer of Cymbalta for not being upfront and honest about this medication from the start. I’m so upset with them that I absolutely refuse to give them another dime. I’m forging on without it… zap after zap.

    • SP March 3, 2016, 7:56 pm

      Same thing happened to me. My doctor started me on 60mg of Cymbalta and it was bad, really bad. I went down to 30mg for a year or so because I was super hooked already (and we were hoping to would fix my chronic pain, but it didn’t). Then I spent a year separating my capsules in half to get 15mg a day, since Cymbalta offers no taper doses to help you cut down and wean yourself.

      Now I’m at 20 mg, the smallest capsule they make, but thinking of dividing them again and trying 10mg/day and seeing if I can manage that. I have other chronic problems and if I just go cold turkey, I won’t be able to function at work or home. I feel your pain, and you’re right: it is really dishonest and shameful what Cymbalta is doing/has done.

  • Robin February 16, 2016, 7:39 pm

    I get these zaps and was told years ago it was an allergic reaction to a painkiller medication I was on. This was changed and slowly it went away. 7 months ago the zaps came back full force and after numerous tests and CT’s etc., I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was told this was one of the symptoms of this disease. Did I go years misdiagnosed with MS. Looking back and realize all the symptoms I had and all the tests and no one put it all together until now.

    You know your body! If something is wrong it will continue to remind you somehow that you need help… find out what you have. Don’t settle for little answers from several docs. Get the big answer from the right doc. I almost lost a sister because she was told she was obese and needed to lose weight. Her widow maker artery was clogged 99%, and without a stent would have passed away by now. Her body told her, there is a problem and I know it!

    • Eva March 8, 2016, 9:22 pm

      Hi, did you get any medication for MS? Did it help for you brain zaps?

  • Samantha Gelb February 17, 2016, 6:10 pm

    1st let me start off by saying reading the article & soooo many comments, it almost brings me to tears B/C I’m not the only 1 experiencing this. When I was a teenager the Dr put me on BuSpar (buspirone) & I got this Brain Shock daily. Once I stopped the meds I only got a “Brain Shock” very rare, few & far between.

    I’m an adult, a mom & I have anger issues. I mentioned to my doctor who put me on Sertraline 25 Mg & it did absolutely Nothing. So after a few months I stopped (I just found out it was Zoloft) cold turkey. It’s been about a week+ I stopped taking it & these Brain Shocks are CONSTANTLY ALL DAY WHILE I’M AWAKE.

    It feels like someone keeps hitting my brain with a baseball bat. It’s awful Thank God I have an appointment w/ my doctor tonight…

  • Dave Nichols February 17, 2016, 9:36 pm

    I’ve experienced ‘brain zaps’ for just over 30 years. I’ve always just called them ‘electric shocks’ which start somewhere around the top of my left leg and travel up my body through the left side of my neck and end up at the front left of my brain. They make me feel dizzy but they also heighten my consciousness.

    Sometimes I have to brace myself when walking as I feel I might veer off to one side or fall over. I’ve been on many types of anti depressants during that time and felt the electric shocks on a daily basis and sometimes dozens of times during a day. They usually last less than a second but sometimes they have lasted for five or six seconds which at the time feels like a very long time.

    I can also experience them in multiple bursts; four or five straight after each other. The electric shocks are definitely worse when I am physically unwell or changing from one antidepressant to another, but they are still a constant in my life. It’s been interesting reading other people’s experiences.

    When I first felt them I thought I was going to have some kind of seizure. They are part of my life now so they don’t really bother me as I know they only last a short period of time. Cheers, Dave

  • Andy February 20, 2016, 5:41 pm

    After getting brain zaps on a number of occasions I stumbled upon someone who told me 16mg of Betahistine 3 times a day. It did the trick and yes it worked. I’m now on 3rd withdrawal still works great!! I don’t know why, but it works for me. Good luck fellow Tesla brains :).

  • Bob February 22, 2016, 10:57 pm

    Hi Guys, I’m new here and forgive me if this has been asked before but there are so many comments I couldn’t read them all. I was on Paxil for about 10 years. When I got off them I had brain zaps for about a year. They finally went away. About 6 years ago I started taking Pristiq, an SNRI.

    I never miss a dose and always take the prescribed dosage. The thing is, over the last few months I have been having brain zaps while taking the meds with no reduction in the dosage. Anyone else encounter this? Thanks, Bob

    • Daryl Ann June 3, 2016, 12:39 am

      Hi Bob, I take Effexor, now, but did take Pristiq. They are the same type of antidepressant. I just wrote a comment that my zaps are often occurring when I am involved with running about 3-5 miles, and not when decreasing my 150 dose, so I wanted to tell you that it does happen to someone else who is not decreasing a dose. Best of luck to you!

  • Julia February 24, 2016, 12:24 am

    I have had brain zaps which make me feel like I pass out for a split second. Went for a CT scan and was negative. Now going to make sure it’s not a carotid artery block. I am on wellbutrin and paxil. My Dr just increased my paxil dose 20 mgs… Will see if this helps.

  • Tatie February 24, 2016, 3:28 pm

    Thank god, I thought I was going insane. I was very frightened. What a relief.

  • Claire February 25, 2016, 12:05 am

    My brain zaps never went away either after SSRIs 15 years later and I am left with permanent trouble sleeping, they diagnosed the zaps as myoclonus which it isn’t or a DIND drug induced neurological disorder, which is more like it but very vague. Then I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder and should never have been on SSRIs in the first place, not on their own especially.

    There is all of this hereditary too down my mum’s side as she has had similar problems and I’ve also since developed ms! Also note – omega 3 fish oils significantly helped completely rid me of the problem but seemed to worsen sleep problems so I can’t win. But if they help someone else it is worth a try.

  • Gilligangsta February 25, 2016, 5:02 pm

    I am having them now from discontinuing Cymbalta for fibromyalgia. I also had them several years ago when discontinuing Effexor. I’m heading to my GP to get a low dose of Prozac to stop them. Every time I move my eyes, my brain shakes like a maracas. I’ve had very unpleasant, vivid dreams and loose bowels. I stopped the Cymbalta because it increased my blood pressure into the danger zone and also caused constipation so severe that it was unmanageable.

    • SP March 3, 2016, 7:51 pm

      Oh man, Cymbalta can be awful. I was on 30 mg a day, and if I missed taking my morning dose, just 3 hours after missing a dose, I’d be dizzy, off balance, and in a pretty much constant state of brain zaps until I could leave work and get home and take the meds. And it never helped with my chronic pain either. I used to have super low blood pressure (would faint randomly) but Cymbalta raised it enough I’m not in the normal range and don’t faint anymore. I guess it has worked for THAT. But I feel your pain. Cymbalta is vicious.

  • Alicia February 25, 2016, 8:32 pm

    I am so glad to have found this. I first experienced this sensation when tapering / coming off of Effexor XR a long time ago. It came bake with taking Wellbutrin, and it’s 50-60% of the time even though I take one 150mg in the morning and 1 in the evening at the same times each day. I can’t take the extended release version of bupropion as I had an allergic reaction.

    This feeling really impacts my life – it makes doing my job hard and hiking around outdoors is tough. I get a bit of vertigo with it. It’s always something – either the depression or anxiety or the side effects from all the meds! I’ll try supplements, I really hope that helps! I’ll take any other ideas or suggestions!

  • Beth Mock February 26, 2016, 3:44 am

    I have been having these zaps. I’m not discontinuing any meds. I have had these zaps over 4 months. My mental health provider is not sure what it is. I do take klonopin PRN. Could it be that?

  • Paul Nordstrom February 27, 2016, 1:35 pm

    I get these zaps in my head (I call them fuzzy electricity)… when I wake up, but mine are triggered by Meniere’s disease episodes. The Meniere’s disease involves the inner ear and having vertigo and vomiting. After awhile they go away. When I had another recent Meniere’s attack, they came back. I only feel them when waking up from sleep. For my condition, I avoid salt and caffeine. I’ve never been on any antidepressants.

  • Ellie March 2, 2016, 3:46 pm

    I’ve had brain zaps for years – just once in a while, mostly when lying down. Recently they have been more frequent and I’ve had other weird sensations in my head…which is why I am googling for answers. I don’t take any meds, have never been on anti-depressants. No drug use, though I do drink a little. Doctor said they might be a type of migraine… I also am prone to anxiety, but I’m not sure how that plays in. I’m sick of them!

  • Jared March 2, 2016, 11:47 pm

    I’m an ex opiate addict and I’m telling you that these mere “brain zaps” ain’t sh*t. I was put on sertraline during my my initial attempt to quit opiates. 2 years ago it was when I first started on zoloft. Shortly after I initially began zoloft I relapsed terribly. Let me tell you now I went through hell and back withdrawing from opiates and that withdrawals from zoloft isn’t even in the same ballpark. All I can say is hang in there and this too shall pass.

  • SP March 3, 2016, 7:48 pm

    I’ve been having brain zaps since I was about 12 years old (over a decade before ever having a SSRI antidepressant). Strangely enough, I used to get them EVERYTIME I went to babysit. It may have been stress-related. But it didn’t happen specifically if the baby was crying or anything, just all the time while I was there.

    No matter if I was chilling with the kids, if I’d just gotten there, or was about to leave, was making their dinner or reading them a book. It didn’t matter how calm or normal the activity was, I had brain zaps while baby sitting, and they stopped when I went home. I still get them, and I’m in my mid-30s. Doesn’t happen around kids anymore, but they still happen.

  • k March 3, 2016, 8:24 pm

    I have never been on antipsychotic or ant depression medications and experience this constantly… since it cant be withdrawals what’s my excuse for it then?

  • jacqueline pepi March 4, 2016, 4:03 am

    I have just come off cymbalta 5 days ago. I was only on them for 4 weeks and stopped suddenly as I was getting palpations, low blood pressure and just felt awful. 4 days after “brain zaps” now affecting me. I wish I had never started cymbalta again as I had terrible electric shocks in head and chest at night. Back then I tapered off them very slowly for 3 months.

    I can’t believe that only after 4 weeks that I now have these continuous sudden short bursts of dizzy jolts. It sucks and I regret putting myself through these side effects. I will never take antidepressants ever again. I think vitamins, good food, and good affirmations and comedy movies are far more effective for me than the chemical sideshow side effects.

    Good luck to you all, hang in there and never lose sight if who you are and be kind to yourselves.

  • Jerry Phelps March 7, 2016, 4:47 am

    I am a 48yo male. I had 3 strokes in may of 2015. The MRI showed that it affected the emotional system of my brain. For months following the stroke I would get very emotional when I tried to speak. I could look at the sky and try to talk and choke up when I tried to talk. I consulted my family physician and he prescribed Lexapro.

    I discontinued the medication about 4 months ago and had a side effect that I thought was strange. I could hear and feel pulsating sounds in my head. The reminded me of driving on a highway and passing construction barrels such as a wosh wosh sound. I went back on the medicine and they stopped. However I was having other side effects that I did not like.

    I had severe itching in my lower legs, a major decrease in Libido, and always wanting to take a nap in the afternoons. Again I discontinued the medication and the pulsating sounds came back. I have done a little research and think I may be having what is called “brain zaps”, what can I do about those?

  • HHF March 7, 2016, 4:23 pm

    I have suffered from chronic neck pain and had ACDF in c5/c6 in my neck. I recently have suffered with disc degeneration in my lumbar region l5 to S1. I think I suffer from PTSD, nightmares and lack of sleep are a real challenge. Over the past 4 months I have had continuous tinnitus in both ears which is so loud!

    To compound the issue my brain zaps just before falling asleep can go on for 15-20 minutes. I have back pain so like to sleep early but feel anxious as I know when I try to sleep the zaps begin. Then reawaken me 4 or 5 times; I hope they pass soon.

  • Anthony March 10, 2016, 6:31 pm

    I have been reading about the brain shocks and am surprised that alcohol withdrawal was not mentioned. I know that is the result in my case. They started 1 week after I stopped alcohol intake. Hope they stop soon. It has been a week.

  • Eva March 13, 2016, 2:15 am

    I’m having brain zap all the time over 5 months now. I got the brain zap when I went on remeron 4 months ago and now I’m trying to come off, but getting even worst brain zap. My doctor recommend Prozac to take it. He said sometimes it helps for brain zap. I’m scared to take other depression pills, but I have no other choice. Worried I have some brain damage. Taking fish oil, Mg, Ca, B12 any other suggestions?

    • Rick March 29, 2016, 4:17 pm

      Sweetheart, You’re gonna be fine. You must keep a positive attitude. I WILL PRAY FOR YOU.

  • Mike March 15, 2016, 7:45 am

    For me, they feel like an electrical pulse, and if you know Star Wars, it sounds like a light saber is quickly whizzing past my ears/head. It’s really weird to explain it that way but that’s the closest sound description I could come up with. It feels like you’re jolted like a blow to the head. Like static. They’re startling and happen to me only when I lay down to sleep if I forget to take my viibryd antidepressant (which has saved my life) – it’s a daily dose so at about 20 hours without it, they start. Super annoying and creepy but yeah – harmless.

    • FC March 16, 2016, 9:12 pm

      Yes, Mike. That is exactly how I would describe them. Does you head also feel “like it will explode,” with light sensitivity?

  • Katie March 16, 2016, 1:02 am

    I got the zaps first about nine years ago when I tapered off Effexor. They did go away in time, but however, every once in awhile I would feel it if I moved my eyes too fast to the side. However, just this past weekend I got the stomach flu and I experienced the same intensity and frequency of brain zaps that I did when coming off the drug. I was on antidepressants for 16 years, I really think they have damaged me somehow. I also suffer from otosclerosis, I’m not sure if they are related.

  • FC March 16, 2016, 9:10 pm

    I have been on Xanax, Ativan and Valium over the years. When one benzo became less effective, my doctor would rotate them to prevent a tolerance. Now, I want to rid my body of these little devils. I have horrible brain zaps, profuse sweating, hot flashes, chills, body aches, sleep problems, etc. I am trying a taper, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

    I am very frustrated and I am just worried about a seizure or stroke. I can’t begin to tell you how horrible these pills are for your system and your brain. I wish I had never taken a second look at them. I sympathize with all of you who are also going through this. Prayers for all of us. :(

  • Misty March 17, 2016, 3:31 pm

    I just experienced my first brain zap last night as I slept. I have not been on any of the kind of medications you described, so it’s not medicine related or withdrawals that does this to me. I do not remember what my body did as I was sleeping, but I remember the feeling in my head. It was not on one side of the brain but all over.

    I could not think of anything or even produce a single thought or even remember any memories. I’ve never had seizures in my life. It lasted what seemed like 5 or 10 minutes but who knows how long it really went on. I tried to open my eyes and get up out of bed but couldn’t, it was like my body completely shut down. It is by far the most scariest thing that’s ever happened to me.

  • Samantha Hudson March 18, 2016, 1:16 pm

    Hi. Thank you for writing about this. A few years ago I was diagnosed with bpd. They took me off all my meds and made a new cocktail for me. Whilst this change happened I got these brain zaps which are exactly how I explained to the mental health nurses, the doctors, the psychiatrists and not one of them knew what I was talking about and looked at me like I was making it up. Now I’m having them again and I am going to show them this article that it does actually happen!

  • Geraldine O'Shea March 21, 2016, 10:00 am

    I am so glad I found this article, it has helped me immensely. I came off Sertraline about 6 weeks ago cold turkey and the brain zaps were terrible. I googled my symptoms because I had never heard of brain zaps before, and I came across this site. After reading the bit about omega 3 fish oils I thought I would give it a go. So about 4 weeks ago I started taking omega 3 and B12 together and I have noticed in the last week a significant improvement in my head, so much that the zaps are barely there anymore. I will continue to take my supplements and hope the zaps disappear altogether. I hope this works for others as well as it has for me. Good luck everyone. ☺

  • Julie Velasquez March 23, 2016, 3:58 pm

    To me they almost feel as if I am watching an old horror movie in black and white and there is a static movement on the screen. Its like all my thoughts go black and white for a few seconds and kind of shake a bit. It usually causes my whole body to twitch as well. I recently started lyrica for possible multiple sclerosis symptoms and neuralgia etc. The lyrica has helped the pain but made the “zaps” or “static” as I call it more common.

  • Susan March 24, 2016, 12:55 pm

    I had these brain zaps around 1996 and they were disturbing. Sent to neurologist and they did MRI finding 6 lesions which had a list of things they could be from such as mini strokes, migraines, and many other things but not Alzheimer’s as not in correct part of brain. Neurologist felt there was no concern and the zaps did eventually go away but now they are back 20 years later. I am curious how many of you have had an MRI and been shown to have brain lesions of some sort.

    Wondering if I should go and find out if there have been any changes and whether these lesions cause zaps or zaps cause lesions. I have been on b12 for a couple of years now as I was deficient. Also been on magnesium for a month due to major Charlie horses in my legs and feet. I have fibromyalgia since 2003 due to car accident and have been on narcotics, fentanyl and Percocet for pain relief for many years. Have reduced under doctors care since August of last year and almost off altogether before this started again.

    I had 1 doctor that had me on 8 gabapentin a day and I reduced myself by 1 every 2 weeks and finally finished last week before the brain zaps started. I saw someone else mention that they took this drug as well. I was told that was suppose to help my chronic pain but never really did. I am tired of being in medications and they obviously affect our bodies in the long run. Please reply if any of you had an MRI that showed similar results as mine.

    • Eva April 15, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Hi I did have MRI and they find several white spots but my neurologist said nothing to worry about. Most people has this age. I’m 55. And she said I should see a physiatrist. I will see one in May but I won’t take other depression pills. I have had brain zaps since I went on remeron. Never again.

  • Tami Dalrymple March 24, 2016, 8:31 pm

    I have experienced these on and off for quite a while. Biggest problem with this theory for me is, I’m not on any antidepressants, and haven’t been for years for this to be part of my problem. I guess I must chalk it up to anxiety and stress. I notice it a lot more when trying to sleep. Happens more and more. At least I know I’m not crazy.

  • Todd March 25, 2016, 5:45 am

    A lot of people seem to have brain zaps from ending medication.. I’ve been having them on and off since I was a young child, and now I’m 20 and they are still occurring. I never had a name for them until a month or two ago but now that I know what they are called it’s been interesting. I’ve had them go away and return many times but for me they seem to be stress related.

    I’ve also noticed that since I was little they have been occurring when I’m in new places, especially if I’m either not supposed to be there, or theres something particularly spooky about it. I would be interested to know if anyone else has had any causes similar to this.

    Another thing I found interesting is that they never bothered me too much. I just have the sensation and move on. I never thought much about it until I finally knew what it was called. Anyway, good luck to everyone!

  • rob March 26, 2016, 6:07 am

    I have had brain zaps for a few years now and only get them wen I am very hungover, I had a breatherlizer in my car and soon figured out that they stared wen the alcohol level got back to 0.000, I’ve nearly had a seizure and its thrown me off the bed with how severe the jolts can be, I put it down to dehydration cause I’ve never had any medication!

  • Michael March 27, 2016, 4:47 am

    Like everyone Else… I’m so glad I found this site. It hit on every single level that I was experiencing and gave me exact answers as to why they were happening that match my situation. I have high anxiety as well, so i’ve been really worried that this was a more significant health issue. Again, I’m glad I found this site.

    Withdrawing from Effexor and my anxiety combined made these shocks absolutely terrifying in jail. I had no one to give me answers and I had absolutely intense jolts every time I was just about to fall sleep. I could feel my eyes start to rapidly move and then I’ll just get a jolt that would make me actually pop up. The price you pay for going to Joe. Took them several weeks to give me my anti-depressant medication.

  • Rick March 29, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Hello to everyone, I been on and off paxil for years. I used to get the zaps bad, in fact one time it was so bad that I would get knocked to the ground from the zaps. Over time it’s gotten better, this last time I stopped paxil was about eight weeks ago. The reason I stopped is all sorts of things where going on. A little history, I have so much never damage from working and I have chronic pain from head to toe.

    I had to quit working and now on disability since the early 90’s. I got so depressed I didn’t want to live. I was put on many different antidepressants and ended up on paxil going on roughly 10 YRS. After my body gave out I have been on opiates and get steroid injections plus a pain pump, so opiates don’t help with the zaps.

    About six weeks ago I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and a few weeks before finding that out I thought it was some of my meds. I was going through withdrawals, worse depression and a few other problems, so I was trying different things and one was stopping the paxil. Since I stopped, the zaps are very minimal, hardly any shakes but my ears ring.

    I believe I’m gonna be alright this time but I worry because I still am depressed but off the paxil for the first time in years without all the crap, just so happy for that. Now if I can only get out the front door, I might be able to lead a new life. I PRAY to GOD and the BEAUTIFUL WARM COMFORTING BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT to protect and keep me safe.

    Don’t stop trying, I never did. Believe in yourself, believe in GOD. Only you and you alone can make the difference. May GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

  • Serenity March 30, 2016, 12:11 am

    I experience brain zaps but I have never taken any medications. Why do I experience them then?

    • Tina August 12, 2016, 4:17 pm

      Hi Serenity, That’s my question too. After a flu, I started getting a great number of the symptoms described here. I’ve done the full workup with many specialists, even the ENT at Mayo Clinic. No one knew the cause. Did you ever get the answer to your question? Or find anything that helped you? Thanks, Tina

  • Kelsey March 30, 2016, 3:43 am

    I have been weaning off of cymbalta for months now… Brain zaps are so bad they make me nauseous. Lately it has been very hard to walk up/downstairs, drive, and sleep. I’m taking B12 and have increased water intake. Any other suggestions?

  • Katie March 31, 2016, 3:44 am

    I get mine and I have not stopped taking my Paxil or Kolonpin. I take them everyday at the same time and have never missed a dose. I’ve had the zaps before but this is the longest they have lasted (2 weeks).

  • Amy Dobney March 31, 2016, 9:01 pm

    Accidentally dropped taking Paroxetine after my prescription ended. Won’t be able to see my doctor for another 5 days.. It’s been about 5 already. I was alright for the first few, but then grew very tired. My body was very slow. Today though, I woke up to these zappings. Work was total hell, as every time I turned my head or looked to the left or right of my eyes – ZAP! Move too quickly, and I zap. I’m extremely tired of dealing with not being able to move my neck quickly. The zap feels like a pulse going from the back of my head to my eyeballs. My vision blackens and blurs for a second before adjusting. Leaving behind a pulsing headache.

  • Buster March 31, 2016, 9:34 pm

    I have had the most disturbing time stopping this SSRI; brain zaps, dizziness, lack of coordination, disturbing thought process; anxiety, the list goes on. I took Celexa, 20mg, for 13 plus years and last August had what I believe a full blown anxiety attack while driving on the highway, followed by a series of head sensations, weird feelings like out of body stuff and just feeling totally disconnected from everything.

    I went to my Doctor and she sent me for: MRI, EEG, ENT, immunologist, countless blood draws – had an elevated Sed Rate, cardiologist. Nothing specific came back in all of these tests. I weaned myself off, because my instincts told me it was the Celexa. My doctor did not agree until after 4 months of testing and hellish feelings. In February I started the process 20 to 10 for a week and then 5 for a week. I think I did this too quickly. Any thoughts?

  • Duane April 1, 2016, 5:27 pm

    In the past few months I was taken off Fluoxetine (having been on for close to 9 years), put on Cymbalta which didn’t seem to have the desired affect. Quit cold turkey and now on Trintellix.

    Wow. Thought I was going crazy or close to dying when I was experiencing these strange brain zaps. Thanks to everyone for sharing that this is quite common when changing meds.

  • Alex April 4, 2016, 5:51 am

    I am suffering on the brain zaps after discontinue SSRI (I took it for 15 years). I couldn’t believe that the intake of Vitamin B complex and Fish oil capsules have removed the symptoms almost immediately. Thank you so much for the extensive information. Everybody can stop this stuff, it’s worth it to get back freedom and health.

    • Amy April 14, 2016, 6:57 pm

      Hi there, Do you remember the mg of each vitamin you were taking daily? And how long did it take to go away?

  • Almo April 5, 2016, 2:48 pm

    You have no idea how much this has helped me! Not only has these shocked feelings increased for me lately, I was freaking out because I’m also in my first trimester and thought it was caused some how by the loosening of my jaw joints. I actually spent half an hour last night trying to figure out what causes these when I discovered I was also suffering from my hearing cutting out while sitting next to a fan.

    My logic was jaw loosing, = earring effects = cuz you’re preggo. I took time to plug each ear, and wait for a shock. I timed them, then, I moved my jaw into different positions. Covered each eye… Discovered it was my eyes!! My eyes!? How does eye movement cause, what I lovingly called, “tweaking”.

    To me, it started off feeling like that jolly feeling when you start to fall asleep and get that sensation of falling. Now I know, it’s actually related to eye movement! After experiencing these shocks more than 10 times a min, I knew I had to do something. I have now gone back on my SSRI mess at a low dose and will wean off slower this time. Thank you so much for you’re information! You age saved my sanity.

  • Judy Hill April 8, 2016, 6:28 pm

    I experienced the “brain zaps” (popping noises) years ago (80’s) while falling asleep. I had just stopped taking an MAOI (actually tried all 3 available at that time) that put me in a state of mania. My doctor at the time said I wouldn’t have experienced the mania had I not been bipolar.

    I disagreed with him because I don’t have the usual highs and lows that accompany bipolar patients. My depression is more dysthymia in nature…my personality is more flat-line – lukewarm with no feelings of euphoria.

    • clks April 10, 2016, 6:53 pm

      Have you looked into hypnagogia – I have that and ‘hear’ all sorts of noises in the night, usually it sounds like springs going in a mattress. sometimes it sounds like someone is blowing a massive raspberry inside my entire brain complete with sensations. This I think is what you are describing. Hypnagogia is a sleep disorder brought on with insomnia, which is very common in people with mental health issues. Brain zaps as described here are not audible they are more of a sensation.

  • Courtney April 9, 2016, 4:14 pm

    I have been taking Effexor and Suboxone for approximately 8 years. My Effexor prescription ran out and I thought nothing of it. Then I started experiencing what I called “mini-strokes.” My whole body would jerk and I actually would blank out for a moment. Unfortunately, I had 2 car accidents coming off Effexor- both were minor, but both times I damaged my car.

    The 2nd time a police officer pulled me over and ran a field sobriety test which came up negative. I could not figure out what was going on and went to psych ward feeling so messed up. I really thought it was from Suboxone or alcohol withdrawal – I was a casual drinker. Now I feel so much better that I wasn’t crazy.

    I was at the emergency room and none of the doctors figured out what was happening. I really thought I was having seizures. Thank you to your site!

  • Holly April 9, 2016, 7:18 pm

    I am getting these EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I move my eyes. This has been happening for 3 days straight. But I have had them for about 3 months about 3 times a day. Stupid venlafaxin. I honestly am feeling like these are never going to stop and I think it is quite literally driving me crazy. I am a nursing student trying to study for exams and it is so so hard, I am only 18. Someone please help me. I have been taking B12 for 2 weeks and I am only getting worse.

  • clks April 10, 2016, 6:44 pm

    About 10 years ago I started taking Effexor but pretty quickly into treatment I began getting these zaps, (or brain shivers as I called them) that would stop me in my tracks like I had been struck by lightning. This happened if I was so much as twenty minutes late taking them medication.

    It was terrifying. There wasn’t much information about it back then but it was obvious Effexor was the culprit. I stopped the medications 8 years ago. Suddenly this week, out of the blue and for no reason, these zaps have started all over again. I have not been taking any medication.

  • John Booth April 12, 2016, 9:59 am

    I took effexor XR 450mg for nine years and had brain zaps every ten minutes or so for the entire time. One year ago I reduced it gradually to 150mg and then stopped taking it. The brain zaps became very severe for a number of weeks and took about five months to stop completely.

  • Amy April 14, 2016, 6:55 pm

    Hello there. I am currently tapering off of Paxil. I am down to 10 mg as of a week ago. I’ve been getting the brain zaps for a week. I’ve been taking omega 3s and magnesium in hopes that they would go away. I usually start getting them around the afternoon up until I go to sleep. Hoping to get a reply of a success story or hear how fast they have gone away for anyone else? They are really freaking me out and very uncomfortable.

  • ColtonJames April 16, 2016, 5:04 am

    Hello thank you for this info. I have been on a simple dose of venlafaxine and now taping off I also have these brain fux. Just to inform everyone drinking alcohol does not help. (Go figure) it acutely resulted in the worst frontal lobe brain pain I have ever experienced.

    I have been tempted to try Marijuana but haven’t smoked in years. A hot rice bag did help me sleep! We should all be very upset the Doctors don’t worn us about these symptoms!! Anyways, thank you, you’re welcome, goodnight.

  • Dr. C April 18, 2016, 3:26 pm

    I started getting these during withdrawal from zoloft, which I was on for 2+ years. I have now been off zoloft for 3.5 years and I still get them every few months, usually in the morning before I get out of bed. Scary. Can’t find much info on long term brain zaps post SSRI.

  • Cam April 19, 2016, 3:28 am

    I get the bad brain shocks, when I miss my 300 mgs of Effexor. I forgot to take them today, couldn’t drive – ugh.

  • Madi April 19, 2016, 4:47 am

    I got off amitriptyline awhile ago without any problems, but Sertraline is really what is causing the brain zaps for me. It was crazy to find out that this is an actual thing because I couldn’t for the life of me put a name to the sensation. I was on the highest dose I could take of Zoloft so I imagine that’s why it’s pretty often that I have those brain zaps.

    I’ve been taking it every two days or so now. Usually the second or third day is when the zaps start. I’m hoping it will get easier the longer I hold out, but man, the emotion train leaves the station on that second day without pills. They say they’re not addictive, but I sure do miss it after 72 hours.

  • Krista April 25, 2016, 10:53 pm

    I am experiencing horrible brain zaps. I am on day 7 cold turkey off of 30 mg of Paxil for 5 years. I was told by a nurse that brain zaps can be extremely dangerous. Should I be concerned?

  • Tim Yates April 27, 2016, 5:53 pm

    I have experience brain zap’s since quitting sertraline three weeks ago. Has gone more severe this last week. For me there is a definite link with eye movement and sharp turning of head as if to quickly look around. Also a sensation of a thud or consecutive thuds. Feel better in my self not being on the medication an in more control of my mind. Felt the drug lacked an inconsistency and I was on quite a high dose. Knew about it the next day if I missed a tablet. Hopefully all pass with time.

  • Roger April 27, 2016, 11:43 pm

    So thankful I found this site! I took 20 mg of Citalopram for a little over 4 months, then tapered off as my doctor directed – but then started experiencing the zaps about a week later. Been off the drug for about three weeks now, and the zaps are less frequent – but I concur with the thought about lateral eye movement provoking the zaps.

    I was really questioning whether I needed to get new glasses – or watching too much of the NHL playoffs, following the puck from end to end! I’m also noticing that the zaps aren’t as frequent when I’m concentrating on something, as at work – but once I relax, and especially if I think about the zaps, I’ll get one right away. Knowing they will eventually go away is so comforting!

  • Lup April 28, 2016, 7:01 pm

    Glad to know this isn’t uncommon. I experienced random brain zaps after tapering off from a year of Lexapro. I tapered off for a month so maybe it was too quick for the medium dosage I was on? They went away after a month or so but now I am getting them as short lived side effects when I take BuSpar beginner dose on an empty or half empty stomach. Stay strong, folks.

  • Catherine Peake April 30, 2016, 12:59 am

    I have severe brain zaps, once due to Zoloft withdrawal, once to I know not what! I have got pneumonia and started the Z-pack. A while after I took the first two tabs, I started severe brain zaps, pretty constant… The side effect section on Z-pak says to report if you have serious side effects like dizziness. IDK whether to consider these serious side effects?

  • Jen May 1, 2016, 1:51 pm

    I have weaned off Effexor for 1 month and eventually just decided to not take my dose of 33.3mg. Going on day 3 and still no relief from this awful sensation along with nausea. I have tried to discontinue this med several times and have always failed due to the brain zaps.

    I refuse at this time to ever go back taking the medication. I feel that the drug has imprisoned me more than the life situations which drove me to taking the med in the first place. Praying this will end soon. Feeling trapped.

  • Lisa May 3, 2016, 2:19 pm

    I’ve been reducing my dosage of Venlafaxine over the last three months or so and currently the brain zaps are almost unbearable. For me, it’s like a scratching noise inside my brain every time I move my head from side to side. It’s really distressing but having found this site, I feel somewhat reassured that it won’t be permanent.

    The reasons we have to take anti-depressants in the first place are always tough and really heartbreaking. It’s a brave decision to make to decide to want to stop taking them and it seems so unfair that the effects almost make you think it isn’t worth trying to manage without them… I’m determined to try though.

  • Richard May 6, 2016, 10:50 pm

    Quitting Paxil was one of the most intense experiences of my life. It “only” lasted a little less than 3 weeks. The zapping sensation was mostly limited to one place inside my head. One day, I reached up and touched my head where the zaps seemed to be happening. My head was sore on the OUTSIDE. Really. It stayed sensitive until the zaps stopped. I forgot to mention that I did a very slow taper from 20 mgs. Every little bit I lowered the dose, I got a 2 or 3 day preview of the big event – when the “medicine” was completely out of my body.

  • aaron May 7, 2016, 1:13 am

    Does anyone get brain zaps when you’re trying to fall asleep and they keep you up? That’s the problem I’ve had when trying to get off of mirtazapine… Every time I’m about ready to doze off I get a zap and am wide awake again.

  • Emily May 7, 2016, 4:05 am

    This article and the many comments that follow it, were both relieving and terrifying. I started taking Effexor three years ago to help me through anxiety, depression, and panic attacks all stemming from being physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by my boyfriend. I have given a small amount of credit to this medication for helping me through the trauma itself, and the PTSD that follows.

    My psychiatrist had never stated the possibility of extreme adverse side affects upon discontinuing the medication. After two months of slowly tapering off of the drug, the brain zaps that go through my head and into my fingers and toes, along with extreme irritability, have worn me down. I have been patiently weaning myself off of the medication and continue to live uncomfortably every day.

    My withdraws include much of what has already been said, wth brain zaps being the most intense and continuous, along with muscle twitches/spasms, cold/hot sweats, and nausea/throwing up. While going onto the medication three years ago, I had similar symptoms but none of which became this severe. I find that my brain shocks are the most severe when my heart rate raises.

    I figured this out while I was working out, and had such severe shocks that I nearly fell off of the treadmill. I recently soaked at a pool and sat in the sauna after, which raised my heart rate and sent me into continuous shocks and muscle clenches/spasms. I feel defeated and powerless. Sometimes I wonder if I should just resume taking the medication, out of fear that the shocks and symptoms might never go away.

  • Dan May 13, 2016, 10:51 pm

    I’ve been completely off 10mg Lexapro for about 12 days – I weaned myself off, first lowering to 7.5mg for 1-2 weeks, then 5mg, then 2.5mg (used liquid for the smallest dose), and finally off completely after about 6 weeks. The brain zaps are still really bad and disorienting. I can definitely trigger them by moving my eyes side to side.

    That needs to be upgraded from “speculation” to fact. I can actually hear the sound in my head when they happen – like the sound of a red hot wire being dipped in cold water – a quick buzzing/fizzing sound – it’s very unpleasant and debilitating. I also notice that the brain zaps get worse, not better, with marijuana, which I thought I would try to “relax” the brain and see if it slowed or stopped the zaps.

    I would not recommend that even for regular marijuana users. But I was only on 10mg – which everyone says is a ‘baby dose’ – I can’t even imagine how bad the zaps are for people who were on 20mg or more. The pharmaceutical companies should have to test for withdrawal side effects before marketing these drugs because my personal opinion is that these withdrawal side effects from stopping the drug are much more detrimental to me than the benefits of the drug itself.

  • jeremy May 13, 2016, 11:15 pm

    Thankfully I found this site! I thought these zaps were just me going crazy… They happen when I have a sudden eye movement.

  • Hammer May 19, 2016, 6:17 am

    After finding no information about these “brain zaps/mind skips/etc.” on any medical site like Mayo, WebMD, etc., I thought I was going crazy and didn’t tell anyone. The best description that fits me is the feeling that my brain just powers down with a split second power surge that makes my body jolt or convulse, then reboots.

    They are like miniature blackouts that last a fraction of a second but often come in waves about 30 second to 3 minutes apart. Any time, but mostly at night & especially when going to sleep. I also relate to the people that said it can even be a euphoric/orgasmic like surge (but certainly not in a good way). Two questions:

    1. Does anyone else have these “link” to split second nightmares/night terrors when trying to sleep? When mine happen and physically jar me awake, I am having split second horrific visions or something. Like thinking there is gunfire in my hotel room, or getting hit by a car, or a tornado right outside my window. It takes a few seconds for me to come back to reality. Usually I scream or whimper, and often have to gasp for breath as I come out of it.

    Sometimes I start recognizing it is not real, but I am unable to move or open my eyes for a few seconds. It is all so frightening that I am scared to sleep now and am going on about 2-3 hours a night, making my life miserable and putting my job in jeopardy. As there are more events during the daytime now, I am scared to drive or even be in public. I know this all sounds insane, and I don’t trust talking to anyone about this for fear they will think I am crazy. Does anyone else experience anything similar?

    2. Does anybody know anything about the class action lawsuit against Cymbalta? I forgot the firm’s name but they are supposed to talk to me tomorrow. But I am afraid to give them any personal info without knowing anything about them and without a confidentiality or lawyer/client privilege protection in place (i.e., can I trust them?). Thank you…

  • Maharshi May 19, 2016, 2:57 pm

    I am a Yoga Master. I do regular meditation. I never take any drugs or alcohol or marijuana (weed), but I experience brain zaps often after Dhyan (meditation) and I really enjoy them. Old Asian yoga script says if in higher level of Dhyan (meditation) then kundalini will release power from your crown chakra. MAHARSHI

  • J May 25, 2016, 8:58 am

    The first time felt like my brain was computer that crashed. It felt like my brain locked up and I heard a loud sound. Errrrrrrr! I read about symptoms online and came across – “exploding head syndrome”. Now, some years later I get more of the zap that people describe. I always have to “wake up” and open my eyes, or I feel like I will die.

    I think it has to do with blood pressure, because a lot of times I feel the left side of my face contorting like I’m having a stroke, and I have to “wake up” and open my eyes, or I feel like I will die. Now, after it happens, I just roll on my side and go to sleep with no worries. (Or it’s easy to fall asleep, because I was on the brink before it happened).

    It’s not fun. I read about omega 3s helping, so I’ll try to see if it doesn’t happen on days I eat tuna.

    • Jenny Whan June 2, 2016, 12:51 pm

      I have also experienced electric shocks when sleeping. I honestly thought I was dying from electrocution. I am going to try a different medication (I’m on Effexor) for anxiety because I can’t cope with these terrifying episodes

  • Madison May 30, 2016, 4:34 am

    I am so thankful I read this. I am currently having these brain zaps. I gradually got off 100mg of Zoloft. My last dose was three days ago and I felt like something was wrong until I did a little research. I plan on sticking this out and dealing with the zaps. Hopefully they will go away soon!

  • Elizabeth May 31, 2016, 4:14 am

    I was on Cymbalta for only a month. I was taking it for anxiety and fibromyalgia, but had no depression until I was on it for a few weeks, which is why I stopped it. Now a month later I am experiencing these brain zaps and I am relieved to know now that it is not unusual and not dangerous. I guess it just took time for the medication to get out of my system because I am also just starting to feel my fibromyalgia type pains again.

  • Tommy Harris May 31, 2016, 11:32 pm

    I experience the brain zaps only while I’m sleeping, and they are numerous. I can have about 20 in one night and they cause me to wake up and spasm such as my leg kicking. It sends a shock down my spine that tightens up my body and causes the spasm and then I wake up.

    I rarely get them during the day. I’m on day 10 of my 40 day plan to get off of them. Been taking 10mg for a year and tapering off with 5mg a day. I can deal with the other symptoms, but this one is just aggravating and very uncomfortable.

  • Jenny Whan June 2, 2016, 12:45 pm

    I’ve been taking antidepressants (Zoloft & now Effexor) to treat anxiety for about 15 years. About 4 months ago my Dr increased the dose of Effexor and within a few weeks I experienced terrifying electric shock feelings in my brain when I was sleeping.

    I had another one recently and now I’m seriously considering changing the medication. I have experienced brain ‘zaps’ in the past when withdrawing from Zoloft, but the recent shocks on Effexor are so strong that I feel like I’m being electrocuted.

  • Christine June 2, 2016, 9:48 pm

    I’m going through the “brain bees” right now and it’s hell. It literally (to me) feels like I have a swarm of bees trying to get out of my skull. I can’t think, I can’t eat – I just want to lie still and try not to disturb the bees. If I move my eyes, the bees follow. Sometimes, they follow the direction of my thoughts. I ran out of Effexor and haven’t been able to get to my doctor to renew my physician. It’s been going on for three days.

  • Daryl Ann June 3, 2016, 12:27 am

    I have experienced brief “brain zaps”, but would like to know if anyone has experienced what I have, relative to aerobic exercise. My first “zaps” occurred several years ago with Pristiq and now with Effexor. As described in the literature, it usually occurred, not when exercising, if I missed one dose of Effexor, or went 2 or 3 days without Pristiq.

    (That only happened with Pristiq, once, when I traveled and forgot to take it with me.) For about the past 9 months, while on Effexor, I get the zaps while running 3-5 miles when properly staying on schedule with 150 mgs. I am a 61 year old female, Exercise Physiologist, MS., so find this interesting. When it happened a few days ago, I was only about a mile along on a treadmill.

    I noticed it starting in my head and traveling through my back and to my feet. It doesn’t frighten me so I paid closer attention, than usual, and noticed it went further and lasted longer than usual, for me. It lasted about 15 seconds. Usually they last only about 5 seconds, but intermittently. I haven’t been able to find any other mention of this happening during exercise when the dose remains at a continual level.

  • Sue June 5, 2016, 10:33 pm

    Brain zaps make the awful feeling I have everyday in my hands and head sound minor. They are not!! A jolt is more like it, and it goes on everyday. The only relief I get is the hour or two I sleep every night. From the minute I wake up, until I close my eyes, I have that feeling. I don’t know how much longer I can take it. Absolutely horrific.

    I haven’t seen too much mentioned about the burning in your stomach after eating. My brain is punishing me for a drug I took for years that I never abused, but which it was perfectly happy if I had taken forever. PAWS should be brought to the forefront of the medical community, so those who don’t know what their doing, (family practitioners), don’t attempt to do something that will cause great harm to a patient.

    Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath say first, do no harm? Ignorance should never be an excuse!

  • Sue June 5, 2016, 11:42 pm

    Has anyone experienced loss of taste and smell, and the dulling of the other 3 senses? The brain zaps are horrible, but having lost the sense of taste and smell is by far the worst symptom of PAWS. If my brain is zapping, at least let me taste and smell!

  • Josh June 10, 2016, 12:50 am

    I’m glad a came across this. I have been on 60mg of Paxil for almost a year. The weight gain was to much so I wanted off of it. I tapered off a bit but the brain zaps hit. I find them annoying at most.

  • Raven June 11, 2016, 3:00 am

    I’m currently dealing with this while withdrawing off Sertraline (Zoloft). I’ve never been more relieved to see that this is actually pretty common. My doctor thought 50mgs was fine to just cut me off of. I experience these zaps pretty sporadically.

    I’ve been off it for about a month and I still have spells of them. I am on different medications now which I thought would help but now that I’m on Bupropion XL. I was wrong. I guess we’ll see how long this lasts. 😕

  • fiona OSullivan June 11, 2016, 7:29 pm

    Thank you so much the person who wrote this. I will try the fish oil and Vit B12 and hope to God the head zaps end soon. This has been the most useful info I’ve read so far. I came off 1 Duloxetine tab daily-30mg. Had been on it for 11 years I think.

  • Bonnie June 12, 2016, 4:50 pm

    Well, good to know what causes this! My prescription for citalopram ran out, and I couldn’t see my family doctor because we’d moved and I totalled my car and thus couldn’t go to the clinic, and I hadn’t taken the meds for a few days; and it feels like I can feel every nerve firing whenever I move my head. But I got my prescription again now, so it should get better soon!

  • Zoe June 17, 2016, 10:35 pm

    Wow thanks for this, both the article and all the comments. I was on Pristiq for +2 years. Tapered off as per direction and am now drug free, but I too have the brain zaps. So glad to have an answer to this nasty feeling, I was worried there was a physical health problem looming. I was/am having them now and while reading this, so I got up and tried the baking soda – it did stop most of my face-zapping, but I still have the ear buzzing and the “butterflies in my head”, all good any improvement is welcome.

    I do have a temporary relief that works, but it’s frowned upon. In the evening I smoke a joint before bed. It stops the brain snaps and I can sleep well. Going to try the fish oil and B12 too, and go for the good fat in food. Again thanks so much for this information!

  • Ed June 27, 2016, 6:11 am

    I really hope these shocks stop. I went from 225 to 75 to none of Effexor. I felt like a zombie with no feelings, so I had to stop. Now I am dealing with these shocks. The first couple of days of stopping made me feel ill. I noticed my balance was off also. Now it has been 4 days and it has not stopped yet. I will try the fish oil and vitamins to try to make these stop.

  • MISTY GIDDENS June 27, 2016, 11:16 am

    I too get electric brain shocks. You described it well. It’s like getting electroshock treatment. It’s very scary. I get mine only while I’m sleeping. In the middle of REM sleep. It actually jolts me awake, and I guess it’s kind of like me seizing with the way my body jerks because my cat who sleeps by my chest bolts away from me like I’m on fire or something.

    I am on Lexapro for anxiety but I’m NOT coming off the med. I take it every night. I also take Requip for Restless leg syndrome every night. I don’t skip my meds at all. I know stress can play a factor too but I get them even when I’m not stressed. I’ve been on these meds for years and have never skipped a dose and this hasn’t started happening to me until this past January, six months ago.

    Every time I have them I have uncontrollable movements and feel like I’m paralyzed. I’m only 36. I’ve talked to my doctor and told her about them and she only looked at me like I was lying with a doubtful face and said it’s only stress and did not even order any kind of tests. I’d see another doctor but my insurance will only let me go to that doctor’s office.

    I do have a family history of brain cancer on my biological dad’s side. A few of my relatives have gotten it but the doctor’s don’t look at it unless it’s a parent or grandparent. It’s so frustrating. I don’t know what to do. Any information would be helpful. I’m mostly worried about the feeling paralyzed and jerking part of it. Please help.

  • Jürgen Wimmer June 28, 2016, 1:48 am

    Tonight I experienced a brain zap for the first time during my REM sleep phase. Grateful for this article which explains that brain zaps are related to a neurotransmitter change. For me it makes sense, as I started today to take chemical nutrition supplement (Aptomia essential amino acids).

    Experienced strobe light flashing accompanied with white wave radio noise and accoustical input (smn. shouted “lift”). Scary feeling but no pain at all. Wanted to stand up, but couldn’t. Didn’t last for long (felt it 1 1/2 minutes).

    After that I woke up, googled what brain zap’s are, read this article, wrote my comment and had a glass of water to hydrate my brain. Feeling secure again and go back to sleep. :-)

  • Jerry fer June 28, 2016, 4:45 pm

    I’ve had these brain zaps for close to a month now and it’s horrible. The worse part is the insomnia. I’m on epitol, an anti-seizure med. I’ve been on it since 2002, and I have not skipped a dosage. The only thing that has changed in my life was that I was just diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis exactly a month ago.

    Due to it, I had to change my diet drastically. My zaps started a few days after I started my diet. I went to my doctor and he was clueless to brain zaps and gave me trazodone 200mg for sleep but it did nothing to help the zaps or insomnia. I’m glad I found this website.

    I am going to try the fish oil and vitamin B12. I’ve done some research and some people swear by these vitamins. To whoever is suffering from these debilitating zaps, I wish you luck. I hope it works for everybody.

  • Kate June 30, 2016, 9:00 am

    Ok so I finally decided to google my problem of literally feeling electricity in my brain. Great to find for once that the first item to pop up isn’t all doom and gloom. I’m just happy I’m not alone and the reasons I’ve found here fit perfectly. It’s really annoying but it won’t bother me any more! Thank you. ☺️☺️

  • Rusty July 2, 2016, 8:41 pm

    I must say that even though these zaps may not be dangerous neurons and or or brain cells, the zaps are in fact very dangerous! I have fallen many times, I have been driving a car and crashed due to zap so bad that it blinded me for a minute! These zaps are dangerous and you must take caution when operating anything!

  • Thierry July 4, 2016, 12:28 pm

    I have taken Tramadol for a long time, until I got addicted, two weeks ago I finally decided to stop with it definitely. That wasn’t easy to live, now I’m through with that but brain zaps are still there. As I’ve seen up am gonna try with vitamin B12 and fish oil to see how it react… If someone has another idea to erase it definitely please tell me.

    • Rodney Goodall July 13, 2016, 11:07 pm

      Theirry, just be patient. These sensations will plague for more than two weeks I’m afraid but they WILL definitely cease altogether to all intents and purposes. One must assume we are all different and you may cease sooner or later but they do go away. Most people’s problem lie with the what to do about the depression in the absence of these otherwise useful medications.

  • Mlarabee July 4, 2016, 7:56 pm

    I have taken Effexor off and on since college. I’m now 37. I stopped taking it two years ago by tapering off and using Prozac. I’ve been on Wellbutrin ever since and the zaps have not gotten better. I’d sat they even get worse as time goes on. The nurse practitioner that I see acted all surprised when I complained to her after six months of the zaps. She said “Oh they’ll get better.

    I haven’t heard of them lasting this long.” Well listen sister. It’s now been TWO YEARS and they are stronger than ever. I think the drug companies knew about this withdrawal and downplayed it. I would love to be able to file a class action suit against them for making my life, my sister’s life, and everyone else on here still suffering. It’s total b.s. and they need to be held accountable.

  • Gabriella July 9, 2016, 5:09 am

    I have taken Effexor for about 3 years now for chronic migraines, and I’m the kind of person who is SUPER sensitive to side effects of everything like I low-key get side effects of Advil… but every time I stop taking the medication I get these brain zaps. The first time I really really noticed them was when I got food poisoning in Denver, but they were improved by anti inflammatories.

    It was so bad they were coursing through my body I lose vision and they were so bad that I could barely move. I took a car ride and every bump it was like my life was a poorly executed stop motion animation. I assumed it was dehydration but it was probably because of a discontinuation of the medication.

    I am also on Amitriptyline 75 mg so that was a LOT of antidepressant withdrawal. Every single time I miss a dose I am plagued with these to the point where it is difficult to move. I lose vision for a second, and my movement feels jolty. I’ve never had any idea this was a normal thing I liked reading this.

  • Wendy July 10, 2016, 3:02 pm

    I am being tapered off cipralex currently and my head feels like it’s being constantly electrocuted… It’s bad enough it’s waking me up from sleep with it. I really hope it ends soon, nothing seems to help.

  • Amy P July 11, 2016, 7:56 pm

    An interesting read. I’ve wondered what these little pulse waves were in my brain. They aren’t uncomfortable in my case, just strange random phenomena that happen on occasion… usually around the time a migraine is ready to come on or go away. It’s almost like a little jolt that awakens the brain or something. I thought they were weird and I’m glad to know it’s not as abnormal as I had thought.

  • AmyV July 12, 2016, 6:52 pm

    I am so glad that I finally started researching this issue more, I’m just glad to know that I’m not alone. This is just terrible and I agree that the doctors and Big Pharm should be held accountable. My psych Dr was clueless when I first mentioned it him after missing a few doses, I told him I had “electric shocks in my brain” and that I would feel like I might pass out or fall down, he said that dizziness is a thing but he had never heard of brain shocks! How is that even possible?

    I hate to sleep now because waking up is hellish, I’m only able to sleep for a few hours max anyway and a lot of times I sleep sitting up because laying flat seems to make waking up more uncomfortable. I am so angry about this, I was hesitant to try an antidepressant to begin with and my dr convinced me to try sertraline 25mg and then tried to add on wellbutrin which I only tried for one month and hated the feeling of vertigo and dizziness.

    Soon I was up to 200mg of sertraline and dealt with two years of having to keep taking the shit just so I can walk through life without falling down from the damn zaps, it did NOT ever help with my “blues” but the dr said I had to take it for a month and see if I feel better and then raise the dose, see if it does anything, raise the dose, etc… 2 yrs later I’m actually really depressed because my brain is addicted to this dangerous drug.

    I have been self weaning with my last script now for about 3 months and I only have a few left. I just can NOT deal with these zaps much longer, I am always so so tired but cant let myself get REM sleep because it triggers the shocks, and that effects my whole everything. I really hope this subsides. I’m going to try Omega-3. I am sure the pharmaceutical companies were aware of this side effect from the very beginning.

  • Lorrie July 12, 2016, 10:40 pm

    I have been on generic Zoloft for over a year now. At first I felt ok on it but upped it to 100mg but have since decided it’s not for me. I stopped taking it four days ago and have begun the generic Wellbutrin and am experiencing blurred vision, rag doll feeling and continual brain zaps that are driving me crazy. I’m so hoping this all subsides but right now I can’t tell if it’s withdrawal or side effects… ughhh.

    • AmyV July 14, 2016, 7:55 am

      Lorrie, from what I’ve read and felt it’s whenever there’s a change in the medication or the dosage. I am sure that stopping the Sert like that on it’s own would cause loads of zaps, but also adding something new would too, I’ve tried wellbutrin a couple of times in my life and both times it made me super dizzy. I wouldn’t recommend it. You might want to consider weaning off the zoloft slowly and just check out natural supplements like St john’s wort and omega-3s…that’s what I’m trying to do. Good luck.

  • Rodney Goodall July 13, 2016, 11:00 pm

    Yep, this is a pretty good descriptor of my experience whilst taking Citalopram. I found these sensations so distressing that I weaned from the drug permanently though otherwise it seemed to assist my depressed state. Having been off the medication a year of more, they did cease a fair while ago but every now and then I still experience an ocassional a very faint experiencing of this “zapping”. Interestingly, I found that if I lay down, I could get relief from the sensation almost instantly. HTH

  • andrew redford July 14, 2016, 3:42 pm

    I think the zaps are awesome. I stop taking them every few months just to kick them off when I am on vacation. It actually kind of tickles a bit.

  • Lisa Marie July 16, 2016, 6:37 am

    I never had this even after discontinuing Zoloft more than a decade ago which is odd after everything I’ve been reading here and elsewhere. The only zaps I had were down my arms into my hands which I compared to being electrocuted. And I startled very easily. Even about 12 years later I still think I startle easily.

    But now all I take these days is .25 mgs of Klonopin as needed for anxiety and that might only be once every 2 weeks. I had a brain zap yesterday while sitting here working on the computer. Prior to that I had feelings of vertigo…just briefly… for several days.

    I was thinking it could be the stupid bi-focals that I started wearing a year ago. Maybe my prescription needs adjusting now. But I’ve had a couple of very very slight zaps since yesterday, nothing major but I’m getting annoyed by it. It certainly doesn’t help the anxiety issue.

  • Ali July 16, 2016, 4:47 pm

    Thank you. I’ve taken antidepressants off and on for close to 20 years. I’ve missed dosages before but never had these “brain zaps” before last night. At 1 am last night, thought I was having a stroke. This makes so much more sense.

  • Louis M July 17, 2016, 9:45 pm

    After stopping Zoloft I experienced brain zaps for a while. Eye movements definitely were a factor in triggering brain zaps. Looking to the extreme left or right would trigger one.

  • Erin July 17, 2016, 10:48 pm

    I was on Cymbalta for almost 3 years and I tapered down, but was unable to cope with the “brain zaps”. So while I tapered down, I started taking Zoloft to help with the withdrawal symptoms. It definitely helped. I then slowly tapered off of Zoloft and was fine. A few days later, I started getting “brain zaps” again and it has been continuing now for almost 2 weeks.

    I also have been extremely sensitive, irritable and easily loose my cool. This is so frustrating. There is no way I’m going back on any antidepressants to help with this. This website has been a great find though. I will be trying the fish oil and I am going to increase my B12 vitamins.

  • Jen July 19, 2016, 1:36 am

    Sea bands for nausea. Chocolate to help with zaps. OTC sleep aids – I plan to sleep through this unbearable effexor zap and worse. Klonopin to keep anxiety down which keeps zaps lower during day – 1mg.

  • Mindi July 19, 2016, 3:52 pm

    Wow! All of these comments…I’m not crazy! What a relief but I have been experiencing these zaps and I have not changed meds in quite sometime so why would they start if I have not stopped taking them? It was very scary the first time this happened to me last week and since then it’s only happened one other time but I’m so dizzy and foggy minded it’s driving me nuts!

  • Leen July 20, 2016, 2:01 pm

    I have had these brain zaps for about 6 months and they are more frequent when I lay down to rest or go to bed at night and wake in the morning. I am very glad to have found this site also… I have been getting more and more afraid of the effects.

    I too was on citalopram/celexa… All of this could have been avoided if my doctor would have just checked for peri menopause (hormone levels) instead of dx me with anxiety. Long road to feeling better.

  • Daveeeeee July 20, 2016, 4:03 pm

    Ok but what about people who haven’t ever taking any of those medicines stated? Me and my friend get them in such an extreme manner that it jolts our whole entire body that it really does mimic an electrical shock with as much volts as slightly stronger than a lightbulb socket. I heard an example, if your body was about to die so to speak, about to fall asleep for good, your brain sends a lifeline, a shock to wake you up in order to keep you alive.

    Anyways, the brain sometimes mistakes this with falling asleep, if thats the case, then if theres anyone like my friend and I who get such extreme jolts that it really has you wondering with concern (for that evening anyway) then this should be taken as a good thing, our brains are working in such an amazing way, but sometimes it just gets confused.

    Thank you to the OP for this page/post, it’s a great read, nice work, it’s not exactly the most common subject, thanks!

  • Todd little July 24, 2016, 6:19 am

    Currently experiencing Brain Zap’s after slowly tapering off escitalopram. I’ve taken escitalopram for about 3-4 years, and have been experiencing the symptoms for about 2 weeks now. It’s not particularly scary, just a little annoying. I’ve tried to see what induces them: it seems moving my eyes from side to side is the main thing that makes it happen, and also when I’m in a stressful or anxiety inducing situation.

    Weird thing is, I don’t feel any anxiety like I would expect to in these situations, just the zaps. To be honest, while inconvenient, I would put up with it for the rest of my life considering how content and happy I feel now compared to before the medication.

  • Alex July 25, 2016, 6:03 pm

    Wow reading these comments just scared the bejeezus out of me. I’ve been dealing with the zaps on and off for about a year now as I was constantly playing with and adjusting my dosage of effexor, but now I’ve been off it completely for 4 days and I thought the zaps would be diminishing by now.

    However now that I know some people have permanent zaps, I’m f#cking scared! How come nobody warned us about this? I really don’t want to feel like my brain is being electrocuted every 60 seconds for the rest of my life… Is this really the price of trying to attain some Goddamn happiness?

  • Andrew July 28, 2016, 3:54 am

    I’m so happy I found this website. I recently tapered off of 100mg of zoloft I’ve been taking for 4 years due to a severe anxiety disorder in my brain. I get these brain zaps but only when I move my eyes left to right. Everyone thinks I’m crazy or I’m making it up. I hope it goes away soon because it makes me look crazy that I shudder when I move my eyes. It feels like everything gets 10 times louder for a second and I get a jolt throughout my body.

  • Lee July 28, 2016, 4:08 am

    After years of on and off use of antidepressants I’ve noticed these brain jolts/zaps only occur for me when quitting cold turkey. Fluoxetine/sertraline/citalopram have all induced these zaps. Noticing that head movements provoke the zap occurrence, also initially before falling to sleep. Personally I’d recommend tapering off antidepressants as the only way to prevent these zaps.

    Herbal drinks like St. John’s wart and salvia do help the brain to produce serotonin but why prolong the experience. Some illicit drugs also help, I’m not advising anyone take that route. Simply do as the doctor advises, taper off medication. From my experience the zaps do stop after 3 months however everyone is different.

  • Joe July 28, 2016, 9:04 pm

    As a somewhat terrible medication taker, (I let refills run out and don’t get appointments, just stop) I can confirm this happens to me every time I stop taking sertraline (Zoloft). It’s purely in my head and ears. It feels like a sort of electric echo. I tell people it makes whatever sound is present have kind of a whoosh sound without the “sh” part like 2-3 times.

    It’s really jarring and unpleasant. It also is consistent when I am focused on something, a cell phone screen for example, and looking away. It’s like the depth perception change triggers it. I read that shifting the eyes left to right triggers this for some people, I can verify this. I assume it’s something to do with depth perception and focus, but I’m speculating, these are my experiences, thank you to everyone for sharing!

  • James July 29, 2016, 12:26 am

    Does anyone else get these brain zaps when you hear a very loud sound? That seems to be when I get them the most… I was on up to 60mgs of prozac off and on for 10 years now. For about 5 of those years I was on between 1 and 6mg of clonazepam every day. I’ve had substance abuse issues too because of back pain, and over prescribing doctors.

    I came off of the clonazepam over a 6 month period… slowly and I was relatively ok… then came off of Vicodin over a 3 month period. At that point I remember getting brain zaps and developing tinnitus… I wasn’t on any antidepressants at that time… I started back on prozac and clonazepam a few months later and everything got worse, I was cut off of clonazepam rather abruptly, as well as starting suboxone therapy.

    Panic attacks, muscle tension through my whole body, random jerking movements and brain zaps… The only thing that has lingered is the jerking motions, tinnitus and brain zaps. At that point I started seroquel too. The brain zaps happen when I hear loud noises, pop my ears or sometimes just randomly. It’s been almost 5 months now and it’s annoying the living sh*t out of me.

    The seroquel is supposed to calm the electric signals in the brain, but I still get this stuff. The jerks are one of the side effects of seroquel, but I had them before I started. I also from time to time get a metallic taste in my mouth if I get startled. I’m just starting to think with all the meds they put me on over the years, they screwed my nervous system up royally.

    It’s been over a year now that I’ve had the worst most persistent issues, I’m losing hope that it’s every gonna get better. I can’t work, I’m 35 and living with my dad. Every day is scary and I feel like doctors don’t listen to me anymore because of my anxiety. They think EVERYTHING is in my head. I could have a cracked skull and they’d say… “well you have a history of anxiety, so maybe it’s related…”

    I don’t trust doctors anymore.

  • Melissa July 31, 2016, 1:21 am

    I got a stomachs virus where I couldn’t hold anything down which mentioned I was without my meds… I have PTSD and take effexor in the morning and trazodone at night. Three days in to this flu bug and I feel like my brain is jolting everywhere. I’ve learned sleep helps a lot as well as just not moving my head at all. Definitely not any fun and the Dr told me once I can tolerate it I should start taking my meds again.

  • Rob August 2, 2016, 12:40 pm

    Reading all these comments and the information provided has at least stopped me feeling like I’m going crazy (the irony). I was wondering if somebody could confirm if what I’m experiencing is these “zaps” what I’m experiencing doesn’t feel like electricity, it feels more like a pressure wave or pulse through my head, it affects my coordination but only for the duration of the pulse.

    The first time I experienced it it felt like I was about to pass out with each pulse so I dropped to my hands and feet, my limbs went like bambi’s legs when he’s walking on ice. Since then the pulses show up a couple of times in a week but never as bad as the first time, is it a sign that the medication is actually fixing something rather than sticking a patch on it?

    It certainly doesn’t feel like a positive thing when it happens but if it’s part and parcel of the process I’ll stick it out. Sorry, rambled on… don’t know anybody else in the same boat.

    • Tina August 12, 2016, 4:54 pm

      I’m not exactly in the same boat as the others since I wasn’t on any medication when my brain zaps started, but what you’re describing sounds very similar to what I’ve experienced. “Pulsing sensation,” “pressure wave,” and the way it affects your coordination—these are what I’ve experienced as well. Maybe you don’t experience it as “electric” because it’s not as persistent or strong? I don’t know.

      I first described my “brain zaps” as “constant lightheadedness—feeling like I’m passing out— and weird gravity sensations.” Later, my symptoms morphed into what I described like this: “It feels like I have a tens machine attached to my brain. The lightheadedness is still there, but now it’s intermittent.” In other words, my symptoms evolved. Plus, I never had tinnitus at the beginning, now I have it all the time. So it’s possible that you have the same thing that people are describing here, but maybe a different level/stage? I’m no doctor, but I do know these sensations are difficult to describe.

      Your question: “Since then the pulses show up a couple of times in a week but never as bad as the first time, is it a sign that the medication is actually fixing something rather than sticking a patch on it?”

      Good question! I’ve wondered that myself. I’m currently taking Modafinil and Clonazepam for these symptoms. They help quite a lot, but I wonder if this means I’ll be taking these meds for life. Is it a patch or a cure? I’ve heard some people can take SSRIs (or SNRIs or whatever) during an rough spell in their lives and then after a few years, they wean off and go on to live normally.

      Well, I hope your symptoms are still diminishing. Good luck!

  • Amanda Done August 2, 2016, 5:30 pm

    Hi, I’m so glad I have come across this website. I have been on escitalopram 20mg for a year. I suffered severe RLS (restless leg syndrome) upon taking it. Also it seemed to stop working, therefore, I decided to stop taking it. My doctor wanted to replace it with another antidepressant drug, but I was not convinced that my RLS with improve.

    So, I decided to taper the drug of. However, even though I reduced the drug from 20mg to 10mg then down to 5mg ( I did this over a period of about 6 weeks), I have suffered very uncomfortable brain zaps, as well as vomiting and generally feeling so rotten, that I feel like I will never be the same again… It’s been 4 days now, that I have gone cold turkey from a 5 mg dose.

    I’m beside myself, but I really do not want to take anymore. I’m crying, scared, dizzy, and even felt suicidal. But, after reading the information in this site, I feel that maybe there is a light at the end of a horrible dark tunnel. The worst thing about the whole experience, is that it took 4 months for the drug to work, then I suffered RLS, so I couldn’t sleep.

    It looks like I’m destined to suffer with anxiety. Good luck to all those going through similar agony. I shall post again when or if things improve.

    • Beth August 7, 2016, 12:18 am

      Amanda, I hate that you are going through this and anxiety does suck BIG TIME!! I’ve been dealing with it for years. It now just come to a head with me not being near my main support system. Some things that have helped me, is some sort of meditation: when you feel an attack coming on, the best thing is to try to calm your mind.

      Breath, focus on what needs to be done in that moment, forget everything else except that one task. “All I have to do at this moment is do the dishes.” Once the dishes are done, move onto the next issue. “Okay, dishes done. Now all I have to do is get the kids a bath.”… and so on. Just take it a minute at a time. It took me years to learn this and you have to remind yourself every time.

      If it helps, make a list and cross things off as they are completed. And remember, just breath. Deep calming breaths. Hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck!!

  • Nancy August 5, 2016, 12:23 am

    I have been having brain zaps from stopping Effexor. I have had no luck finding a doctor that understands Effexor withdraw.

    • will glavan August 10, 2016, 1:36 pm

      Nancy, I started weaning myself off venlafaxine because I couldn’t tolerate it, and I started having a really bad horribly difficult time weaning off of it and I still after six months have not been able to get off of it. But I did see my psychiatrist and he was completely surprised at the symptoms I described, including brain zaps. He claimed to never have heard of such a thing and had absolutely no advice as to what I could do. So I don’t know what to think when even my psychiatrist doesn’t know about this.

  • Beth August 7, 2016, 12:09 am

    I have weaned myself off of Zoloft and for about 2 weeks now I’ve been having these “brain zaps.” I couldn’t ever describe them to anyone to get them to understand what it was I was going through. It’s almost like someone startles you. It’s been quite annoying. I just started with Fish Oil today so I’m hoping it help. I have been taking b12 supplement all along, hoping the combination will help.

    If I sit still, it’s not that bad, but when I go to move, I get hit. I was going to go to my doctor, but then started doing some research. So glad I found what I did. At least I can describe my symptoms better and I know how to deal with it. I’ve also read that after coming off certain meds, either cold turkey or weaning, stress and anxiety can bring on brain zaps as well.

    I guess the key is to try to relax and not to take things too seriously. (I know, easier said than done). Just remember that we can support each other and sometimes just giving a word of encouragement to someone else, give you some peace as well. I hope we can all find something that will help us feel more like ourselves.

  • Suzie L August 8, 2016, 5:38 am

    It is unfortunate that we all have to experience this. I have been suffering for six years with these with no help. When I don’t sleep they are worse and if I move my eyes from side to side or my head at times. They can be very light or very deep. I wish we could all write something and come together cause Dr’s just don’t understand. I am so sorry for all of you who go thru this as well, it’s torture!!!! No one would ever believe how bad it is!!! If anyone comes across a Dr who has heard of this no matter how far please give us his/her name!!!! Thank you so much!!!!!

  • Kane August 8, 2016, 4:45 pm

    So glad I found this as I’ve been experiencing these in the last couple of months. Currently going between different anti depressants every couple of months trying to find ones that work so it fits. More interestingly though I can definitely confirm the looking side to side spiking them worse as I’m doing it right now.

    If I focus on looking up and down without deviating off to either side I get no shocks, looking to one side I get usually about 2 and looking left and right repeatedly makes my head feel like I’m having a seizure (not fun, do not recommend). Thanks to whoever put this post up though, I don’t feel nearly as worried about the zaps as I did before.

  • B August 8, 2016, 7:43 pm

    I’ve been having brain zaps for 7 months, I was on Sertraline for a couple of months, came of them Jan 2016, it’s now Aug 2016 still having brain zaps and tinnitus, my tinnitus is constant worse in the evening and morning, with bursts of zaps, sometimes I have one big zap that makes my whole body jolt, maybe one or two per day, I’ve also been taking medication for high blood pressure for a year now.

    The severity of the zaps seems to be getting worse especially the big ones that sometimes nearly floor me, anxiety levels are high all the time. I feel pretty low most of the time and the light at the end of the tunnel is slowly getting dimmer.

  • Fritz August 9, 2016, 5:45 pm

    Thanks for this webpage. It seems to describe my symptoms, at least in part. I say in part, because my brain zaps started very low level 1in10 many years ago, and have now increased to 7in10. The occur only after I have been asleep for an hour or two. The I wake up with a severe headache in addition to the zaps.

    I sit up, and with my eyes open, more than not the zaps and headache subsides to where I can go back to sleep. However, I essentially alway wake in the morning with some zaps and brain fog of varying degree. This I manage with one or the other, but not both, of Codeine for the headache, or Lorazepam for the brain fog. My concern is that the condition seems to be getting worse.

    • Fritz August 20, 2016, 3:21 pm

      Interesting development. My headaches became severe, so I scheduled another visit to the doctor. He booked me into the Sleep Analysis Clinic. The visit there was on the one hand fruitless, because they generally look for air intake issues that would in essence cause a drop in Oxygen intake. Not my problem.

      On the other hand, the nice doctor there had good memory, dug out his “school books”, and looked up, a new description I learned, of my headaches as “electric shock sensation”. This has opened new doors. First (Google this for more info) it can be caused by withdrawal of meds like tranquilizers (even many month later), or their sporadic use (like I was doing), or secondly a B12 vitamin deficiency. Until last year I had taken low dosage Lorazepam for over seven years.

      Last November I had no apparent issues with stopping them, because they appeared not to help anyway. Then I started using them off and on. Both moves perhaps not a good idea. I have now restarted the Lorazepam, and will handle the withdrawal very slowly. In addition had a B12 shot, which will continue monthly. I have reasonable success. The brain zaps are MUCH smaller, which allows me to sleep longer.

      When I wake, the brain fog is also much less. For now I am cautiously optimistic, because of SO MANY past disappointments in treatment. I plan to report back on progress (if I remember where I posted this; my apologies if I don’t). I forgot to mention the importance of B12 during the tranquilizer withdrawal. One theory is that while taking tranquilizers the brain actually “rewires”, to handle the new conditions.

      This is normal, and goes on all the time. The withdrawal, same theory, creates the probable conditions that cause the brain zap. The theorists state that the process is not well understood. However it sounds good, and for now it actually feels right.

  • Kenda August 9, 2016, 9:01 pm

    It’s nice to know that this phenomena is acknowledged. 20 years when I first started experiencing these, I had EEG’s and sleep deprived EEG’s and other testing. She never figured out what caused it. (& I wasn’t taking medication prior to experiencing them.) She put me on an anti-depressant because it masks menopausal symptoms and surprise! My zaps went away unless I waited too long to take it.

    These included nausea, imbalance, vertigo. Don’t know what caused it, but now I know what has fed it all these years. I cannot go off of it now. I’m up to 225 mg/day and at the point when I can tell it’s getting close to time to take it. When I run out, I get physically ill and cannot function until someone gets it for me. Almost like an addiction, I guess.

  • will glavan August 10, 2016, 1:08 pm

    For more than six months I have been attempting to wean myself off of venlafaxine (effexor) which I took for only 8 months. I was having bizarre brain zap-like symptoms a few months after starting to take venlafaxine and so that was one of the reasons why I eventually decided to discontinue taking it from 175 milligrams. I am finally down to about 17 milligrams a day, however the entire time I have had horrible brain zaps and other symptoms which are constant and intolerable.

    I cannot wean myself off of this medication completely. I have tried to go down to zero but always start taking a little bit because it seems to get worse even though I’m already at such a low dose. I don’t understand why I’m not moving past this period of brain zaps. In my case taking so long to slowly transition off of venlafaxine it seems that none the less the brain zaps have become a permanent feature, and I really don’t know what to do. I can’t go off venlafaxine and I can’t stay on it!

  • Matthew August 10, 2016, 2:37 pm

    Happy I found this website, I am experiencing “brain zaps” although I couldn’t articulate my feelings until I found the word “zaps” . I feel like my whole body just jitters in a split second while it happens then it goes away, I can feel tingling in my arms, legs and finger tips… weird. (Tapering off from 20mg Citalopram for 8 months completely off now). I hope the feeling goes soon.

  • Zapper August 10, 2016, 4:19 pm

    I took Effexor 75mg for about 4 months. I also have had head zapping since fast-tapering Effexor about 15 months ago. They feel like a zap or whoosh, ranging from: sometimes a slight pulse without sound, to sometimes a strong zap with a sound in my head, (the sound being my underlying tinnitus changing for that brief moment). They tend to happen most upon trying to fall asleep, upon wakening, when I’m tired, or when I’m startled.

    They happen literally dozens to hundreds of times a day. Every day. Haven’t had a single day without them since the taper. Never had them before. Also noticed that sometimes the feeling goes to my chest. Feels like a little jolt of adrenaline. I thought these would eventually go away, but in fact I’d say they’re worsening.

    I used to have a few hours without them after waking up; now they start happening only a couple of hours after waking, and continue every few seconds all day long. The sad part is, I never even had depression – just going through some temporary life stresses. Never had anxiety. Functioned well – working, taking care of my kids etc. My doctor never even tried another AD on me – just started with this most harsh and dangerous of drugs, Effexor.

    This fact boggles my mind. Now, I am anxious and depressed – about these zaps, which I strongly suspect are *not* harmless, and are not going away in my case. I have lost the ability to take joy in today, and to have hope for the future. I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that these are a life sentence, since I’ve had them for this long, and the only change has been in the wrong direction (worsening).

    This has taken on a nightmare quality for me and I’m grieving for the life I could have had, had I not taken this drug, which I didn’t need, didn’t even help me, gave me terrible side effects while on it, and gave me life -long problems to deal with afterwards.

    Addendum to my comment above – I tapered over 3-4 weeks, and got no advice or tapering schedule from my doctor (just told to “go slow”). I now know that I should have tapered over a period of months not weeks, and might have gotten the zaps anyway, since my idiot doctor put me on immediate release Effexor and not the XR formulation – way too much stress on the neurotransmitters and receptors.

  • Jayne August 11, 2016, 9:32 pm

    I was prescribed Paxil for high blood pressure as I could not tolerate most meds for that (beta blockers, etc.) and the dr felt that reduced anxiety may alleviate the need for them. Well! I have to tell you that withdrawal from this legalized poison is torture! After eliminating all causes for head pain, the last recourse was to quit Paxil.

    A gradual tapering of 2 weeks made all symptoms worse, so decided to bite the bullet and go cold turkey. If not for the loving assistance of my family, I am pretty sure I would be hospitalized. Horrific, is the only way to describe this withdrawal. PLEASE! Be sure you know the consequences before ever starting this drug!!

    It helped me at first with anxiety, but then wore off. I was told to up the Paxil to 20 mg instead of 10 mg then started the headaches, brain jolts, light sensitivity? No one knew the causes. I had to find out myself. Be warned. This drug is Dangerous!

  • Janssens August 12, 2016, 8:39 am

    I like to add my experience to this site. I’m experiencing heavy brain shocks for about 4 days now. The shocks come with the feeling like I am going to faint. I didn’t take any medication. I did however take MDMA, Coke, XTC and GHB for 3 days on a row. This isn’t the first time that my drugs abuse causes these symptoms. I feel the following:
    – extreme depression
    – brain zaps
    – light shocks when trying to sleep
    – fainting
    – tired
    – dizziness
    My girlfriend feels the same as me. We are going to stop our drug abuse now, but I really wanted to share this with you guys. Don’t do drugs cause these brain zaps reallyyy suck! Also I see a demon-like person standing at my bed at night, watching me. It watches me and points at me, while I can’t move. My girlfriend and her best friend experience things like that too… Also I sometimes wake up shouting cause I was falling or having a car accident in my dreams.

    • Dawn August 26, 2016, 3:48 am

      Janssens I really hope that you and your friends get help for your recreational drug abuse. Your body was a gift giving to you to protect your soul and there are things in life that can give you natural highs. What sucks is that I personally didn’t want to take ANY drugs or any reason because of the uncertainty of the side effects. Now by no choice I am suffering these brain shocks. I am extremely frightened to fall asleep because I am afraid I won’t wake up and leave my family abandoned.

  • Tom August 12, 2016, 2:21 pm

    I was taking 60mg of Cymbalta daily for nerve pain. Although it worked great for the pain, I experienced severe sweating because of it. My doctor decided to switch me to Lyrica which is working for the pain. I tapered down to 30mg of Cymbalta and the sweating reduced considerably. Then when I stopped taking the Cymbalta about 5 days later I’m experiencing the zaps. It is not debilitating, but it is quite annoying and even sending electrical shocks down my arm to my fingers. It happens only when my eyes change focus from one thing to the next. I’ve experienced these before coming off tramadol. Hopefully it’s not long term.

  • Jeff August 12, 2016, 4:01 pm

    I’m experiencing brain shocks coming off of 10mg of Lexapro. I quit cold turkey which was a mistake. I want back on to taper off more slowly and that has helped. I have found being triggered by anxiety has increased brain shocks and tinnitus. My anxiety treatment included anxiety classes, counseling with a therapist, as well as medication. Working with my therapist, I’m managing without meds and I’ve learned three critical principles of dealing with Anxiety;

    1. Self Talk (anxiety won’t kill you. Try saying it out loud!),
    2. Breathe (from the diaphragm not upper chest),
    3. Exposure therapy (don’t avoid places, bring the damn Anxiety if it wants to come with you, or not if it doesn’t), Face it you got it, and you can Live through it, the more you face it the less you’ll be intimidated by it.

    Learn to Live with it and it won’t be a big deal. Resist against it and you’ll create a monster (like I did)! I’m not a doctor. I’m just a man that was overwhelmed. I reached out for help. I got the help I needed. Brain Shocks are going and will continue to go away! (Say it out loud, I just did again cause it works). Thanks for the info because it helps to know what’s going on with my head and others that are out there. Good luck, we’ll be fine if you believe!

    • Dawn August 26, 2016, 3:42 am

      Thank you for those encouraging words Jeff.

    • Veronica August 28, 2016, 4:48 pm

      Thank you.

  • Rachel August 18, 2016, 4:02 am

    I took Paxil for almost 10 years and it stopped working for my panic attacks so my doctor switched me to Prozac… I was not crossed titrated correctly and ended up with a VERY rare Serotonin Syndrome! Life threatening, worst thing to ever happen in my life! The first stage of treatment with SS is to immediately withdrawal the SSRI’s, cold turkey!

    They put me on Klonopin to keep me from having withdrawal seizures and to “help” with the anxiety to come. Talk about BRAIN ZAPS!!! I’m on week 7 of no SSRI’s and I’m still having horrible zaps all day long and the benzo is doing nothing for my anxiety. I feel like this is my new life…

  • Precious August 22, 2016, 8:42 am

    I’ve been on Effexor XR 150mg for about 9 months, started with 37.5 once a day, then to 75mg a day to 150mg a day. I ran out of it, no insurance for it… in transition… moved across country. I was not in the stressful environment anymore, so I decided to just keep going with quitting. Here’s my experience. If I missed a dose, the next morn/afternoon I got the brain zaps.

    I then took a pill & as it kicked in it would stop. So now, cold turkey, nauseated horribly, close to vomiting, tired, brain zaps- an immediate sensations simultaneously consisted of zaps in the head w/ dizziness sensation continued down my neck to my chest and my heart palpitated, like a few (2-3) heart beats were harder all at the same time and this was just the first 3 days.

    I experience these brain zaps w/dizziness & heart beats about EVERY 30 seconds to 1 minute. For the last 3 days. It’s scary trying to fall asleep. One night as I finally fell asleep, the zaps came and it seemed or was prolonged and I couldn’t move or breathe! I could only in my mind call on JESUS because my mouth wouldn’t move. As I did within seconds I was able to move a finger then jerked as hard as I could just to move.

    Remember this is MY experience, and if I trust anyone, it is my Lord. I am alive because of Him. Sorry to get preachy, but when I was scared, the Lord came through for me. So I see that I got heart palpitations in addition to zapping. Also, as each zap happens, I hear a high pitch sound. I never want to be on any drug EVER again!!! Man! It’s only 3 days!!! Lol THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME EVERYONE… PRECIOUS

    • Dawn August 26, 2016, 3:39 am

      Precious I know that feeling completely…I had the same exact situation. I prayed too, wrote down my experiences and wrote a letter to my boyfriend. I was afraid that if I didn’t wake up the next day he would never know why and wouldn’t have anything to tell doctors why an extremely healthy 43 year old woman died in her sleep. I am actually sitting hear in tears right now because I am scared to go to sleep again and have that feeling. I feel somewhat relieved knowing that I am not alone, but I am still terrified of those brain shocks.

    • Veronica August 28, 2016, 4:47 pm

      God Bless you.

  • Ignus August 24, 2016, 12:46 am

    Stopped cold turkey from 20mg Citalopram 2 weeks ago. Not by choice, my doctor would not continue the script until I came in. Not sure if it was the doctor actually, more likely the nurse. They had cut off my meds previously for not coming in for follow up, but always continued Citalopram. My yearly is not due until October so this pisses me off a bit.

    I’ve been wanting to get off of Citalopram for a while now, I’ve been using it for about 8 years now and I believe I really didn’t need it to begin with. So I decided this was a good time to quit. I’ve always experienced Brain Zaps when missing a day or two. At most, for me, they are annoying and not debilitating.

    After reading this, if feel better knowing more about the symptoms and that, hopefully, they will subside after a few months. It pains me that some folks are reporting years of unending symptoms. I wish I had a suggestion for them, I don’t. Ending my comment I thought I would try to describe what my symptoms feel like. Hot Flashes without the heat in my head including ears and in my arms and fingers.

    Micro burst of vibrations in my head, ears and arms and fingers. Enhanced ringing including vibrations in my ears. The duration is always less than a second and typically occur less than 15 time a day. Good luck everyone, I hope this comes to light in the public, on the news and in articles that folks don’t have to search for.

    I’m sure that there are millions who have this condition and aren’t sure what to make of it. The pharmaceutical companies should be more forth coming about this condition but I doubt that will happen.

    • Veronica August 28, 2016, 4:44 pm

      I feel the same as you… I want off!!!

  • Dawn August 26, 2016, 3:24 am

    I have been on this new Anti-Anxiety med called Viibryd for about 5 months and was told by my doctor to taper off the xanax. I did taper the xanax as slow as I could because I was told not to stay on the Xanax for too long BC it can become addictive. However, I was at 1mg per night 3 months ago, tapered to .5mg then to .25 and now I am down to maybe taken .25mg every 2 days at night only.

    Not sure why I am getting these hard to tolerate brain zaps from using such a low dose of Xanax, but evidently the experts were right. I guess I did become dependent on them. I was trying to taper off the Viibryd too. I honestly do not know what to do BC I am afraid to fall asleep BC these brain zaps are terrifying and Xanax helps me sleep and prevents those zaps.

  • Devo August 26, 2016, 1:59 pm

    I’ve gone on and off a number of SSRIs and one Tricyclic. I get zaps every time. Sometimes they come back a month later out of nowhere. When I switched from Clomipramine to Zoloft this last time, they were pretty awful. My doc (who is very knowledgeable since he’s a researcher as well) told me to try ibuprofen. It’s crazy, but it works. I have no idea why, but I assume it has something to do with NSAIDs effect on the p11 protein, which is implicated in serotonergic function. But that’s just a guess. Hope it helps.

  • kevinjbiloxi August 26, 2016, 5:46 pm

    This article really scares me! I had brain zaps for years BEFORE I started taking antidepressants. I even went to the emergency room once thinking I was having a stroke. Crazy thing is that doctors I went to see gave me a funny look when I told them it felt like an electrical short circuit in my brain (I’m an electrician, so that’s how I described it).

    I have been on Vybriid for a couple years now, and I want to wean myself off of it. I only recently started having brain zaps again. In the past 4 months it has happened twice. After doing some research, I’m thinking about swapping to a mixture of B complex vitamins, 5-HTP and L-Tyrosine.

    I plan to start taking these as I start decreasing my dose of Vybriid. Hopefully (Lord willing), I won’t start having anxiety attacks and brain zaps like I did before I started on the SSRI meds. One doctor I had, who retired ):, prescribed me B-12 shots that really seemed to make me feel stable. Unfortunately, I haven’t found another doctor since that agrees with her.

  • Veronica August 28, 2016, 4:42 pm

    WOW I always thought I was on medication to make them go away. I’ve had them far back as I can remember… they’ve never gone away. I’ve been wanting to be off my medication for a long time already. I think I’m ready to be off. Pray for me… if I’m not getting any better then I shouldn’t become worse unless I go cold turkey.

  • Kasey September 1, 2016, 12:27 pm

    I told other Dr’s as well but this one just really got my goat… with his reaction. Thank you.

  • Melissa September 2, 2016, 1:41 am

    So glad I found this page. I have had crazy shocks for years now. I’m 30 years old and used to get them so bad my whole body would sometimes jolt an inch off my bed either whole trying to fall asleep or wake me from sleep. I’ve been on all different kinds of antidepressants and anxiety meds since I was 12. For about a year while I was pregnant and not on my meds the zaps and jolts and twitching went away.

    Now I’m back in viibryd, buspirone and trazodone and I get dizzy vertigo spells with slight nausea ears ringing and as I try to fall asleep I get the electrical current feeling with zaps and flashes of white red and blue light. It’s horrible and it hurts. Last night I experienced one that took my breath for 30-40 seconds and my body came up off my bed the jolt was like being electrocuted. Talk about terrified.

    I’m so scared to go to sleep. This is so scary. I have told close friends including my husband and no one gets it some think I make it up. Seriously how do you make that up? I’m glad I finally looked it up and realize I’m not the only one. Shame on drug companies. I’m terrified they won’t ever go away. I’m going to try supplements I hope it helps. Thank you to everyone here and their honesty. It’s nice to not feel alone.

  • Esther house September 3, 2016, 12:34 am

    I thought after my brain stem stroke I would have to live with my brain zaps. They got so bad I was getting them all the time. I also had vertigo and most the time dizziness of some kind plus a huge headache. I thought I was crazy. My MRI came back fine after 6mos but this whole electricity in the brain was leaving me couch bound. I yesterday started SAM E, 400mg morning / night and I haven’t had any. Look it up it helps. God bless.

  • Sharon September 5, 2016, 8:20 am

    It has been twelve years since I weaned slowly off Effexor 150 mg per day. I have experienced brain zaps since; sometimes they happen five times a week, sometimes I don’t have an episode for a month. They usually occur when I am going to sleep. The zaps feel more like the sensation of a gunshot in my brain, along with electric shocks… I actually feel the vibration and the sound of a gunshot and it can wake me from a deep sleep. I feel my body shiver. Does anyone else feel this sensation?

  • Mary September 5, 2016, 10:27 pm

    I thought I was going to jump out of my skin and pass out. At first I thought it was allergies or an inner ear infection or tinnitus. Then I found this site. I have been withdrawing from Paxil 10 mg for 4 months. My psychiatrist never prepared me for different symptoms I was experiencing only recommended more meds including replacing with Prozac, Remeron, Seroquel and more.

    It was until went to Stanford care and the internist said my panic attacks, my problems with breathing, hissing in my ears, dryness, tingling sensations, blurred vision and muscle cramps were from Paxil withdrawal. I have been on Paxil 20 yrs. I have had 4 psychiatrist attempt to remove Paxil. All 4 psychiatrist used the same type of protocol removing Paxil and replacing instead of a smooth gradual taper.

    I hate psychiatrists for not properly educating me withdrawal. I know Paxil is the worst but why would they keep trying the same approach and expect a different outcome. The body, mind and spirit can heal. There was no good reason to put me, my family and friends through the worry, anxiety and cost of many emergency room visits because I was freaking out from withdrawals and the destabilization it created.

    I have found that exercise, distracting myself and vitamin supplements help. Recently started sub-lingual B12 and it seems to help the hissing noise. I will never recommend antidepressants for long term use or for dealing with peri-menopausal transition. Crazy drugs not crazy people.

    I forgot to mention that first symptom was extreme migraine type headaches and my internist and I thought it was hormonal. When they lasted for 2 months I was sent to a Neurologist recommended by my psychiatrist who put me on Magnesium, CoQ10, and riboflavin. The medical costs have been ridiculous all due to my psychiatrist not paying attention and monitoring the meds he was prescribing. Thank you for allowing a place to vent my frustration and heart ache.

  • Nyna September 6, 2016, 7:17 am

    I had brain zaps all of my life. They tended to come in clusters at the moment and grouped several a day or more or spaced out by months. In other words, they were completely random. I was in at least my 40s before I mentioned brain zaps in conversation and the person didn’t know what I was talking about.

    Multiple inquiries later, I discovered that I could find no one else who had them. I have been on generic Wellbutrin for six years and have not had a single one. I am uncertain whether I had any while on other antidepressants. I have been researching tapering off and have found many people have the zaps while withdrawing. Has anyone else had brain zaps before taking Wellbutrin?

  • Meg September 7, 2016, 7:11 am

    I am reading the comments on this site and noticed that everyone started to experience brain zaps after getting off an antidepressant. I was never on it and still getting brain zaps. This is my story: After having my daughter I put on some weight and purchased a box of Chinese ‘slim tea’ from the local Chinese grocery store. The tea cleaned me out like crazy!

    I suppose to drink it for not more than a week order to lose some weight. The third day after I had my ‘slim tea’ I decided to watch some TV when I experienced the first time in my life several brain zaps. The first hit me and zapped down back of my head on the left side like a lightning bolt, fast and strong. It burned my scalp inside and caused lot of pain on my scalp and inside my left ear.

    The rest were mild zaps. This happened about a year ago and my head still hurts. Sometimes I forget about it then the pain hits me. This happens about 10 times per day. It is both painful and annoying. I noticed, if I am eating lots of sugar it happens, or if I think hard it happens.

    I have the feeling that I have to live with this problem for rest of my life and for what? Just because I tried to lose some weight? That’s crazy! I wish you guys the best.

  • Brian September 8, 2016, 4:02 am

    I find that the “flash bulb” sensation is fairly accurate, though there is no light really. It just describes the intensity and suddenness of the sensation. There is a sound also associated with it as well for me, a kind of intense rushing sound. It has a very sudden onset and disappears as suddenly.

    The idea that these can be triggered by eye movement is not apocryphal in the least; that is when I experience them the most. I am currently experiencing that phenomenon, which has been attenuating over the two weeks I have been off Effexor. As a matter of fact, the only two times I experience “brain zaps” are when moving my eyes, and when going to sleep, particularly when I am exhausted.

    When I have been putting off sleep it is almost guaranteed to happen, and be pretty intense. There is a difference between the ones I have when moving my eyes, and the ones I have when going to sleep. The eye movement ones pretty much follow the eye movement, and then stop immediately. The ones I have going to sleep usually range from this simple popping, rushing sensation, to a prolonged shudder that actually pops my ears sometimes, and feels almost like a seizure of some kind.

    The sleep transition “zap” can be much more loud and intense, enough so that it jolts me out of that transition to unconsciousness to wide awake. Interestingly, I have had the second variety even when not coming off of any medication at all. It only requires extreme exhaustion.

    I abruptly discontinued Effexor after running out of the medication and deciding to be lazy about refilling it since I intended to go off it anyway. I should have known better than to do that, as I have taken Venlafaxine 4 other times in my life, and the only time that going off it was not unpleasant was with a very slow taper. I highly recommend it, and it works, at least for me.

    I think a lot of what is written here is written in frustration and can sometimes feel like a bit of a contest to see who is more screwed up. Trust me, we all are. What would be the most helpful is if we all try and share as many objective observations of this experience as possible, with the times they occur, what we’re doing and how we feel emotionally when they happen, what else we are taking at the time, what we are being treated for, etc. The more of that information that can be mined for useful data by professionals, the closer we get to not only a solution to the problem, but possibly clues to new and more effective medications.

    Taking my own advice: I am being treated for panic disorder, OCD, and major depressive disorder. They’re comorbid. The more anxious a period of my life is, the more, ritualistic my behavior becomes, and the more depressed I am. I found Effexor to be a very effective drug, particularly for just making me feel more focused, and having that critical bit of distance between my thoughts and emotions.

    Unfortunately I also found it to be a libido and sexual sensitivity killer. Kind of a deal breaker. My withdrawal symptoms last about a month, and get better each day. I’ve found that when stopping Cymbalta or Effexor, as insane as it may sound, is made enormously less difficult by tapering, and my body responds to as little as one or two of those beads in the pill.

    It sounds crazy, but it’s true, and I am sure others here have had a similar experience. Your body is clearly not happy about having the SNRI rug yanked out from under it, and it is hungry for whatever amount of that medication you still give it. I have an outstanding new Psychiatrist, and she has put me on medication I would never have thought would prove effective for the above conditions.

    I am taking Lamictal, Gabapentin, and Seroquel, despite definitely not being Bipolar or Schizophrenic. And they’re working. I don’t know what she knows, but she clearly knows something. Don’t fall for the trifecta of neurotransmitter thing. There is a very sophisticated process going on in all that gray matter, and though Serotonin is clearly one of the key players, it is oversimplistic to assume that increasing its availability in the brain is going to fix the problem.

    It may not even be getting made in the first place, or may be working overtime to mitigate sodium channel imbalance, blah-blah-blah. Nobody, including the doctors, really has a firm grasp on what’s going on just yet. They just know that certain medications seem to improve the problem, some don’t seem to do anything at all, and some seem to make things worse.

    It reminds me of our understanding of weather patterns a hundred years or so ago. We saw patterns, and they seemed to obey some kind of rules, and some people claimed to have cracked the riddle, only to be humbled by the complexity of the problem. Anyhow, this kind of went off the rails. Mainly I just wanted to share my experiences in the hope that it contributes to this dialogue, or to a better understanding of the issue. B

  • Suzanne McKinney September 11, 2016, 6:55 am

    There is possibly another cause not mentioned here, and although it may upset some, it needs to be recognized as well: withdrawal from illicit street drugs (in my case methamphetamine) can and does cause these ‘jolts’ (I call them ‘shocks’). They aren’t what I would call painful… They are however disorienting, frightening, and very uncomfortable.

    They can be one at a time or several in very rapid succession – the first time I experienced the shocks I had maybe seven in a row very quickly that made my knees buckle suddenly, dropping me to the floor suddenly and unexpectedly. My vision went what I can only describe as fragmented, as it someone had broken a mirror over my head and laid them out in front of me in uneven, jagged pieces.

    The reason I said that methamphetamine withdrawal can and does cause shocks is because not only have I experienced them myself as a withdrawal symptom, but I have seen my significant other suffer them as well, usually during periods of heavier use; they are definitely much more frequent and intense when I decide to quit ‘cold turkey’ after using fairly heavily for a few days.

  • Lisa G September 13, 2016, 3:05 pm

    I’ve never been on any antidepressants, but I do get migraines. I get a feeling like an electrical pulse zipping from one side of my temple to the other. It’s not painful, just weird. Very cool to find this article; I guess I’m not as crazy as I thought.

  • melanie September 13, 2016, 10:56 pm

    I tapered off of Effexor and started bupropion while tapering off. The brain zaps came and didn’t go away so I had to taper off of them all over again (which did not work either). So now every time I feel the zaps coming on I take half an effexor to make it stop. It’s never ending and making my life hell.

  • Samantha September 16, 2016, 7:22 pm

    I’ve been on Citalopram, 40mg/day for the last several years, and occasionally, I lack the money to refill the medication on time, so I will go without for a week or so. After about 3-4 days of being off the Citalopram, I begin experiencing these brain zaps, although I had been calling them brain jogs, and though I also take Depakote and Adderall, the only thing that seems to relieve the zaps for me while I’m off the Citalopram is higher doses of Adderall.

    If I take 20mg of Adderall rather than my usual 10, the zaps will either lessen significantly enough for me to function throughout the day, or be gone entirely. The way that they feel for me is similar to how they are described in this post, but I encounter something slightly different, and am also wondering if anyone else has the same issue.

    I experience these zaps as mini-blackouts in a way; like, I’ll feel the zap in my brain, get kinda dizzy, one of my limbs will twitch randomly, and my vision will go black for a split second (or so it seems), and then I can see normally again after a few seconds. Though the author says these zaps are not physically dangerous, due to how I experience mine, I slightly disagree. If this happens to me while I’m driving, for instance, a task through responsibility that I usually can’t avoid, the blackout takes my attention away from the road, and in that way, I see these episodes as potentially dangerous.

    Does anyone else experience the zaps as I do? Thanks for reading, and be well, everyone!

  • Duane Bestoso September 18, 2016, 12:27 pm

    I had been taking 800 MG of magnesium a day for over 18on the to help with bowel problems. It had lead to the bowel issues but had put a tremendous strain on my kidneys, so I discontinued it completely. I have been experiencing the zaps for over a week now, and upon researching I found that Magnesium acts as an antidepressant… who knew?? Your article was very helpful and alleviated a lot of anxiety that I was experiencing. Thank you!

  • Elaine Nell September 18, 2016, 6:37 pm

    I feel like my brain shuts off for a second and then zap it’s back on! Horrible makes me dizzy and nauseous.

  • Ashton September 21, 2016, 7:03 am

    So glad to have found this. I’ve been on citalopram for around 3 or 4 years and I could always tell if I skipped my meds because I would experience the brain zaps, but I didn’t know what it was! It scared me and made me more anxious. I had a hard time driving and focusing in class and work. I would get dizzy and it was like the brain zap was zapping my brain to get it to focus again and it would happen over and over again. ALL DAY. It is very frustrating and I haven’t gotten off of my meds because of them. Tapering may help though! I will definitely try that next. Great article!! It answered all of my questions!

  • Michael Kellestine September 21, 2016, 10:07 pm

    I’ve been off effexor for a week and the shock sensations are severely uncomfortable. I was taking a gigantic 150 mg pill every day and that was okay 👌 however I did experience a lack of anger control while I was on effexor. I also would sometimes lash out in my sleep and strike my girlfriend which would lead me to wake up immediately and obviously feel very bad.

    I was lucky enough that I never hit her in the face it was more the side or the stomach but never full force because I would always slow down the strike on account of me waking up mid swing but I could never entirely stop the hit just make it much less harmful. Still this “side effect” obviously troubled me very much and made me question why I was even on this medication. Sure I was never sad, ever, and I was no longer anxious in social situations but my interactions with people didn’t improve in the sense that I was still stone silent most of the time, even when an emotional response would be easily warranted.

    I would just find myself thinking about my response at a distance in my mind with no outer reaction at all. Very peculiar indeed. I went to the pharmacy to pick up my expensive prescription but found that my prescription was no longer in their records so they refused to give me my meds. Instead of going to my family doctor and inquiring I simply stopped taking effexor because well, I didn’t have any left.

    I didn’t and don’t feel like I required it to function on a daily basis and so it was rather expensive and pointless. I’m still experiencing “jolts” throughout my neck shoulders and arms however they have become less severe over the course of a full week. I tried moving my eyes side to side as mentioned in this article and it triggered the shocks pretty good so obviously I won’t be doing that again.

    I’m relieved to find that my prediction was correct in that the jolts are a side effect of discontinuing my prescription. Anyway, have fun with the jolts folks they will eventually pass and you can stop looking like a maniac from the uncontrollable twitching.

  • Larry September 27, 2016, 1:56 am

    I’ve been on Paxil for years (10 or more). I am not stopping taking the med, but suddenly I’m experiencing this “brain zap” effect. At first it was just in the morning when waking up, not fully awake but aware of the zapping.”

    Since I take my Paxil in with breakfast this would be at the low point of it in my body. But now suddenly I’m experiencing these throughout the afternoon, too. Very annoying and I have not stopped taking it or missed doses, yet everything I read about these has to do with stopping taking it. Anyone else experience these while still taking the full doses?

  • Bella September 28, 2016, 5:51 am

    I quit talking Prozac cold turkey about 3 weeks now and I’m having these brain zaps, dizzy spells, and ringing in my ears. I am emotional more than I had been on the meds. And for now I’m waiting to see if I can stay off meds. If it gets bad I will go see my doctor for more information about where to go from here. I was taking 20mg.

  • Gina October 4, 2016, 5:08 am

    This article was an interesting read. I’ve been feeling brain zaps off and on for months now. I’ve never been on antidepressants so I don’t really know what is causing my zaps. It was pretty scary to feel them for the first time but they don’t scare me as much now. I will try fish oil and vitamin B12 and see if that helps at all. I’m curious as to why I’m experiencing these symptoms.

  • Barbara October 7, 2016, 2:50 am

    Am having brain zaps at present. It has been going on for three days now. Have experienced them for quite a few years now as has my sister. She advised me that B-12 has helped her so without hesitating I, also take B-12 and has helped enormously.

    Please note that my sister and I have never taken any drugs for depression or any other drug for that matter so I do not know where that theory comes from. I am more inclined to believe that it could be stressed related but am not writing that in stone. What other theories as to why this happens is out there?

  • brenda October 8, 2016, 9:08 pm

    I am so glad I found this, but also a little freaked out too. I recently went off cymbalta and went off tramadol at roughly the same time. Never was I told of these side effects that everyone,like me, are experiencing on here. I cant even imagine having it for years… I have the brain zaps, the swishing, the painful eye movements virtually 24/7.

    I haven’t been able to sleep (nightmares, insomnia), eat (nausea from vertigo/dizziness) or walk without a cane. This has only been going on for about 2 weeks and I already want to just go back on the meds to make it stop. The worst part, I think, is that my PCP never warned me of this. I have neurological Chronic Lyme which mine behaves much like MS. I have also found that Tramadol should not be used on patients with neuro disorders. It is sad that we have to figure all this out ourselves.

  • Hansen Tsang October 12, 2016, 12:08 am

    Finally a name!!!! I have been trying to describe these symptoms to my health care providers with very little results. Most will look at me with a sympathetic look of puzzlement. I personally called the symptom “whomps”. The reason is when I get a rhythmic zap (usually in multiple of fours) I can hear them in my ears as pulses. I can also see them in my eyes when I am in a dark room.

    At least now I know it is not a fragment of my imagination. Yes I usually get zapped when I switch SSRI’s. So it is probably the withdrawal symptoms from the prior SSRI. The funny thing is when I went on Paxil the zap stopped immediately. Now a year later I am trying to switch off from Paxil and I am getting the zaps. Seems like going on to Wellbutrin is preventing the zaps but I also get other side effects. Just can’t win.

  • Derek October 13, 2016, 10:37 pm

    I quit taking venlafaxine (immediate release, not XR) five days ago. My dose wasn’t very high: 75mg in the morning and 37.5 at night. I quit cold turkey. Anyway, my “brain zaps” are manifested as very very brief (fraction of a second), very intense feeling of dizziness and disorientation, accompanied by a rushing/white noise sound.

    I’ve found it only happens when I move my eyes side-to-side; moving my eyes up and down does not produce the effect. I’ve found that if I stare straight forward, it helps to reduce the dizziness and nausea that follows. Really, my symptoms aren’t that bad. But if they were more severe, it could be very disruptive. I hope people dealing with it can find relief.

  • Brandon October 14, 2016, 12:31 am

    I have experienced brain zaps as well. Specifically from stopping Wellbutrin (bupropion XL 300mg) cold turkey due to insurance problems. Serious headaches too.

  • Robyn October 14, 2016, 1:35 am

    1-1/2 years ago I weaned off Xanax with the help of my Dr… During this process she put me on 5mgs of Lexapro per day to help prevent withdrawal symptoms from Xanax and it did help. About 3 months ago I felt the lexapro wasn’t working for me so my Dr put me on 10mgs per day. Several weeks ago I started weaning off the Lexapro as it really isn’t the medicine for me.

    I lessened the dose to 5 mgs per day for 2 weeks then went to 5 mgs every other day for about 10 days then I stopped. 2 days after stopping I started getting brain zaps that just won’t stop unless I am sleeping. Eye movement triggers them too. It’s only been 5 days since they started but feels like forever.

    They are terribly annoying as they are constant and interfere with my daily routine. I am praying that they stop soon because it’s driving me crazy! I don’t want to go on another medication so hopefully the zaps won’t last much longer.

  • Mandy October 22, 2016, 8:14 am

    I have brain zaps during periods of stress and they always occur just as I have drifted off to sleep. We have a history of epilepsy in the family and I did worry they might develop into something else but so far that hasn’t happened.

  • Julie A. Harrison October 22, 2016, 2:47 pm

    I have been tapering off 200 mg of Zoloft for over a year. Took it real slow, first down to 150 for a few months, then 100, then 50, then 25 and finally split the 25s for two weeks. Maybe I rushed the splits but I just want to be off the med. I came down with severe depression three years ago, attempted suicide and my doctor upped my Zoloft to the 200.

    Two months later I developed extreme anxiety. My doctor then diagnosed Hashimoto’s autoimmune from the anxiety (blood work showed around 500 antibodies when there should have been less than 20). Began seeing and endocrinologist, more meds. At some point about a year ago I found out or woke up to the possibility that my crippling anxiety might be from the Zoloft and not the hypothyroidism.

    Shocking realization… Began tapering and began having “brain zaps”. I thought they were from my vertigo/meniere’s disease (which my last ENT felt is not really my ears but my brain and to see neurologist…how interesting). The “brain zaps” never felt connected to the Zoloft tapering. I was so worried the “brain zaps” were an a sign of light epilepsy and would they let me do my job if anyone found out?

    This page has really helped ease my nerves, it makes so much sense! FYI, the anxiety is much better, still not gone but I can live a little. I stopped seeing my endocrinologist because she didn’t seem to get that all my symptoms would be “different” once I wasn’t on Zoloft. Plan to pick up my thyroid treatments now that I can focus on the problem and symptoms that started the depression in the first place, my crazy thyroid.

  • Maria Sesto October 23, 2016, 5:26 pm

    Hi, I thought I was going mad till I began reading this information. Brain electrical zaps began when I reduced Paxil CR dose, I just quit and for the first 5 days I felt wonderful after that a nightmare. I went back to 12.5 mg of Paxil, and have the epival. I am taken it one day not the next, and the again. Withdrawal symptoms like brains zaps, and eye movement tinnitus and zaps are consisted. Any idea on what to do?

  • Jason Franklin October 23, 2016, 9:13 pm

    I remember using the term “brain shocks”, which I came up with myself back in 2004… because it was something that just started happening frequently. If I go for more than 2 or 3 hours without Venlafaxine, they start. Back then, I was on Lexapro… then Zoloft… all the same thing. I came up with the term because there was never any consolation from the doctor about it.

    They didn’t know they happened. They used to look at me like I was making it up. Now, it’s the number one withdrawal. My conspiratorial mind, or maybe just my common sense, tells me that they are there to make sure we keep taking the medication… which caused the weird sensations to begin with. THC helps me more than any antidepressant, but now I am stuck living with these.

    I have chemical depression, but I don’t think AD meds are meant to help it. I think they are there to hold us ransom in case we ever try to kick the meds. Pure MDMA in small doses has also been something that has never caused me discomfort or addictive behaviors. I am on this reservation now forever… and I think that is the real reason behind ADs.

  • Lindo October 27, 2016, 6:15 am

    I can confirm moving eyes side to side brings on the zaps like clockwork, but not up and down. Strange ey.

  • Kris October 29, 2016, 8:03 am

    I get these zaps randomly they feel like I put me brain on an electrical fence and it even sounds like an electrical shock like bzzzzAP. I’m not on any medication. I have gotten them relaxing, watching tv and I have gotten them while I was dreaming, that one was actually pretty scary, the zaps just kept coming one after the other for quite some time but the thing is, I didn’t realize I was asleep let alone dreaming until the zaps stopped and the scene changed it was kinda scary, I sat up wet with sweat and I had only been laying down for about 30 minutes, (looked at my watch) it’s very annoying and sometimes gives me a headache. Moving my eyes doesn’t always trigger it but every so often (again completely random) I’ll move my eyes and sometimes instead of the zaps I’ll get this weird rocking sensation like I’m being rocked side to side almost like when you’re drunk and your body starts spinning, it’s very annoying.

    • Ally November 5, 2016, 5:49 pm

      Have you seen your GP? Since you’re not on any medication to cause this for you.

  • sbkala October 31, 2016, 2:24 pm

    Man I feel so relieved after reading this, as I was convinced that I had some pre seizure symptoms or some sort of brain disorder. I’m a hypochondriac, so that would probably be the cause of the zaps (anxiety), but they itself made me panic. I’m really hoping they’ll go away soon though, as I don’t want to freak myself out.
    I also definitely only feel them right after or before sleeping, which makes it hard for me to relax. And the sensations intensify a lot when I move my eyes to the side.

  • Johnny November 2, 2016, 7:55 pm

    I’m not sure what I have been experiencing is brain zaps, I call them “wooshes”– like being extremely startled, usually after first falling asleep. When I first heard of this symptom, it is currently the best explanation I have found. I have changed from venlafaxine back to escitalopram a couple of months ago as these symptoms where thought to possibly be from “over activation” effects. I was also taking much longer to fall asleep. The “wooshes” are much better, but the anti anxiety stability has been disrupted for me for now. Panic stinks.

  • Ally November 5, 2016, 5:45 pm

    You know the horrible feeling when you bite tin foil… That’s how my brain feels like it’s being rubbed by tin foil. I’m not coming off of my medication I’m starting it 20mg Celexa.

  • Tania November 10, 2016, 2:57 am

    I am also experiencing horrible brain zaps from Effexor. I’ve been slowly tapering my meds. Have not had any Effexor for a week now and it’s been so frustrating. I wish every Dr. had to take an anti-depressant and then try to get off of them just so they knew what it actually felt like!

    I had generalized anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years until I went to a different dr. who checked my hormones and guess what the anxiety/panic attacks have actually been due to low testosterone and cortisol. THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM!!!! Since balancing both of those things I no longer have anxiety/panic attacks.

    I also have 3 friends who now have seen this dr who had previously been dealing with anxiety/depression. ALL OF THEM ACTUALLY HAVE HORMONE IMBALANCES!!! Why doesn’t every dr check hormones seeing they can cause anxiety/depression and if they are not in the range, fix the real problem?

  • Lucy November 10, 2016, 7:43 pm

    I’m getting brain zaps after stopping sertraline. I get these brain zaps after waking myself up from lucid nightmares usually, but now I’m getting them when I’m awake.

  • Melissa November 13, 2016, 11:14 pm

    Oh my goodness, I’ve had these for years and they are horrible. When I first started experiencing them, I had abruptly stopped taking Lexapro, per my MD instructions, and it was HORRIBLE. I have been on Cymbalta for years, and the only time I do not experience them is when I am on the maximum dose of 120mg. I still get them periodically if I’m late on a medication or especially if I miss a dose. I’m comforted to know that I am not alone.

  • Michelle November 20, 2016, 4:01 am

    I am currently using 5-htp to help come off of Paroxetine. The brain zaps seem to me like crickets having a party in the back of my head. It even sounds to me like crickets when I turn my eyes or head. I have almost fallen from the dizziness, but my anxiety and depression seems to be relatively minor compared to being still on the drug.

    I believe the 5-htp is helping with that part by picking up the slack of the missing Paroxetine. I have been on 10mg dose for over 5 years and tapered over 4 days using the supplement also, being careful not to use enough to cause serotonin syndrome. This is day 5 and I am still functioning, albeit with some discomfort.

    I had tried to taper before without 5-htp and couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms. So far, this time is much better. I will not go back on this drug no matter what. I gained over 20 lbs and felt severe anxiety the last 6 months while taking the drug. Along with a laundry list of dangerous symptoms such as a heart rate down to 43. Never again.

  • Jason Peter Young November 21, 2016, 6:29 am

    Since leaving my previous comment on 11 November 2016 (http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2014/11/29/brain-zaps-causes-treatments-for-electrical-shock-sensations/#comment-152171) I have now settled down to a normal dull feeling on Fluoxetine. The change from Venlafaxine to Fluoxetine was the worst feeling I have had as a side effect of discontinuation and starting something new.

    The brain zaps disappeared about 15 November 2016. Lots and lots of water, healthy eating, etc. seems to be the answer for me. However, I am sure that genetics play a big part in all of this, as would the person’s ability to accept the side effects and move on.

  • Davetta Wells November 22, 2016, 8:36 am

    If what I have are “brain zaps”; I’ve had them since I was about ten. I wasn’t on any meds then, and haven’t been on any now in well over three or four years. I was being prescribed Xanax and told it was for something else. I stopped seeing that doctor. They just started again in the last couple of years.

    When I was young and when they first came back they were paralyzing and traveled the length of my spine. Now they seem to be primarily confined to my brain but allow me to move while they are continuing. They’re extremely painful and very frightening.

  • Kay November 22, 2016, 10:36 am

    This explains so much of what I’ve been feeling for past three weeks! I’m suffering from Anxiety and Depression. Went to seek help three months ago and got on Paroxetine (Seroxat). Of course with sleeping pills (Melatonin). I didn’t find the medications helpful. So I stopped taking immediately. Doctors have been asking me to change medications but I refused to take anymore medications.

    Three weeks ago, I started having weird electric shocks to my brain. I freaked out and couldn’t find the cause of it. It’s getting worse. My heart flutters(?) or skip a beat or so. I’m not getting any sleep. I’m constantly having this weird electric shocks to my brain, which also causes dizziness and my heart seems to be working harder as usual.

    Recently, whenever I shift my eyes to the sides, the electric shocks/jolt in my brain will start numbness to my lips, hands and neck. Sure, it will go away for a while, maybe 5-10 mins and then it will come for another 10 to 15 mins. It’s starting to drain me out.

  • Debra November 27, 2016, 12:12 am

    Hello everyone, My story is just like all of you. I was on Cymbalta for years and one day I ran out and that’s when it all started. I have brain zaps all the time. I also have a hard time when I wake up in the morning because I can’t move my head off the pillow it’s like I’m paralyzed until it goes away and sometime it’s takes hours before I’m able to move.

    I find myself crying because of the pain and being afraid. I haven’t taken Cymbalta to two years now. A lawyer contacted me because there is a class action lawsuit against the company who make the drug. They never listed brain zaps as a side effect. Thanks for listening guys.

  • Skalle November 30, 2016, 5:26 am

    I have schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. I take vilazodone (Viibryd), lithium, trazodone (without which I physically cannot sleep), and lurasidone (Latuda). I have been on just about every antidepressant and antipsychotic there is. I have had these “brain zaps” for years, some of them so severe that I mistook them for seizures. I am mystified because I’ve been getting them while trying to fall asleep at night, and this is the first site that associates them with REM sleep.

    It always happens when I start having those strange, dissociated thoughts that come right before falling unconscious, and it jolts me awake. It’s been taking me more than an hour to fall asleep at night because of this. So frustrating that there seems to be nothing that can be done! I’m not coming off of any meds!

    • Jason Young November 30, 2016, 6:22 am

      I agree with Skalle’s final comment. I think it too dangerous and fraught with major suicidial ideation to come off any anti-depressants, whether SNRI, SSRI, or anything. I ended up becoming suicidal last week or two due to the medication change. Not healthy. Unfortunately, the drug companies have us all fooled, and I hope the class actions currently in USA courts-of-law will result in compulsory research by those companies at not cost to the consumer to determine how to handle discontinuation syndrome and brain-zapping.

  • Cassi December 1, 2016, 5:26 am

    I was on celexa 40mg for about 9 years for anti-spasm for an undiagnosed GI issue. Now that the GI issue is diagnosed and medicated I wanted off celexa. I slowly tapered with guidance from my dr and took my last one on Saturday it’s now Wednesday night and the zaps are horrible! I used to call them ‘rushes’ BC it felt like a rush of electricity though my body.

    I felt alone and like I was the odd one put bc no one understood what I was describing. I can’t get the zaps to go away and I don’t want to go back on the medication… any suggestions? How long did it take for your zaps to go away after the taper process was over?

  • Kerry December 2, 2016, 8:14 pm

    Does anyone get the brain zaps while actually on the medication? I take 20 mg of lexapro daily and get the zaps every so often. Stops me in my tracks and then I have a dull pain for an hour or so. Always in the same exact spot on the top right side of my head.

  • Joe December 4, 2016, 11:10 pm

    So glad that there are others out there that experience these brain zaps. I have not come off any antidepressants because I was never on them to begin with. But I am on Neurontin which is used for epilepsy. My dosage is 300 mg 3 x day for nerve damage pain.

    But I get these jolts of electric like pain on the left side of my scalp from the base of the hairline at the nape of the neck to above the ear when I turn my head. It is most disconcerting and it worries me. My doctor says it is nothing to worry about but it really hurts. Any ideas for treatment?

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