What are brain zaps and are they harmful? Read More
What about a feeling of "fine broken glass given a shake" inside my skull?
...that's the best way I can describe the sensation, it "feels" like that sound. It's a sensation I get when I've forgotten to take my daily citolopram, like an internal reminder.
It's kinda like my surface of my brain "blinks" every know and again, and shakes up the "fine broken glass" on it... that's how I can describe the sensation of the sound of it... weird!!! [and not like glass is cutting me, not at all!]
I experienced intense brain zaps when tapering off Lexapro. They don't hurt, it's a difficult feeling to describe. It feels like your brain powers off for a second and boots back up. Like a jostling feeling. And yes, moving my eyes from side to side triggered the sensation. I got through it, but it took a few weeks.
I'm back on the Lexapro and feel the sensation when drifting off to sleep sometimes. It's almost like a loud PA system interference sound in my head.
And it happens for how long, the episodes... mine are link a blink or two, and a headache-y 'tightness'... if that makes any sense. They only began, now that I think about it, when I switched after five years on Celexa to Lexapro... occurring when I forgot a dose, within half a day, if I remember correctly. It bothered me enough that I talked to my doc and he swithced meback to Celexa/citolopram (a few years ago), and now it happens at day or so after I've forgotten a dose... my internal med. alarm!
correction: ...it happened for...?
I quit taking Lexapro 7 or 8 years ago. I still get these stupid things when I over-exert myself. It really makes me angry that doctors assume no harm when tampering with people's lives. The only thing I've ever had in this world is my brain, now it's adversely compromised.
No, I don't have the money to do the research. I'm telling you my experience. I have permanent brain damage because of these medications.
I had brain tremors. I took Propranolol 40 mg (twice a day) and I got cured.
You can try the same.
Because of a prescription mixup between myself, my doctor, my pharmacy and my insurance, I have now missed 2-4 days completely of my Effexor. I had very similar reactions when I would miss a dose while on Zoloft. I already have chronic tinnitus (if that is indeed a diagnosable thing) that produces very high pitched background noise (kind of like white noise but with pronounced high pitches).
The first thing that I noticed as I started missing doses recently was the "brain zap" (just found that term today). If I move my eyes from side to side (not always but most of the time) I get three distinct sensations. Audible, tactile and balance. There is the sound... imagine standing at the side of a highway, you can hear the traffic (my tinnitus) but you hear the vehicles much louder as they speed by. Imagine white noise at a low volume, you press a momentary volume switch and the volume increases, instantly, drastically and then returns to normal. The tactile sensation (and forgive me if I am misusing that word) is like a "whoosh" (it is making me nauseous describing this, yet another fun withdrawal symptom) almost like the air pressure of the passing highway vehicle would feel. However, I also get a slight sensation in my feet that I could only describe as a sudden increase in blood pressure or a sudden inflation/ deflation as if my feet where made of balloon rubber. Balance... as I experience the previous two symptoms and if they are sustained (mainly due to eye movement) I will become quite disoriented and slightly dizzy.
I could add more detail but I am sure I have bored you enough and I haven't even touched on the emotional roller-coaster, confusion and epic dreaming I have experienced in the last two days.
I hope this is helpful for someone out there.
I realize you submitted this comment over a year ago, but your description is 100% what I'm feeling nearly a week after taking my final Cymbalta pill. I hope it goes away soon, b/c it's *awful*. I've been calling it "micro-vertigo" -- it's like this insane whoosh of vertigo that happens, along w/ the white noise and pressure in the ears / head (and chest for me). So awful. Thanks for this description....I hope you got through it okay.
I feel EXACTLY the same way. I was worried that I was the only one who also felt the whoosh in my head as well as my chest! I'm only on day two of Cymbalta withdrawl but have eliminated Klonopin and Effexor over the last six weeks as well. At moments I have wanted to give in and take a pill but I remind myself about the side effects of these horrible drugs. And I really want to be done with them. Also pretty weepy too! Kerp me updated please.....kathy
I am wondering if either the withdrawal does some sort of permanent damage or the withdrawal is just hideously long.... I had to go completely off of my effexor because my doctor all the sudden decided they weren't going to prescribe it (along with a couple other meds) to me any longer, completely due to mix-ups on their side... Luckily I was able to ween myself off gradually over the course of a month. That was about three months ago and I still get the brain zaps, though they seem more prevalent when I am a little overtired. I truly hope yours goes away. Between the nasty tinnitus and the zaps it's starting to feel like my brain has reached the 1,000,000 mile mark.
I know this is an older comment but I have to say I feel exactly the same way. I went cold turkey off my effxor and the nightmare that is still going on is beyone words. You mention nightmares. The first symptom I had was a night terror. Brain zaps, tremors, insomnia, nausia, night sweats, and hunger are just a few of the withdrawl symptoms I have experianced. No one mentioned that I would suddenly develope Hypoglisemia and wake up every two hrs. and have to eat something or my heart beat would be so bad and I would shake like I was freezing. Doctors need to tell you these things. When these stmptoms first happened I thought I was having a heart attack without the pain. From now on when I get a prescription from any doctor I am doing my homework and finding out Everything I can before taking it. I feel for anyone out there having withdrawls from any drug or medication. Do your homework and investigate the medicine and go back to the doctor with it. Avoid the nightmare.
You have described it better than I could have... its exactly to a T how I feel when it happens to me (except the feet part... mine just feel like they disappeared)
There are two things I've noticed that tend to make it worse, sudden noise and lights.
So, this is pretty much exactly how I feel but mine is slightly more body oriented. I used to describe the sensation as driving on a deserted road with your window cracked and a mack truck speeds by. A reflection of the whooshing sound and the "pressure change" within my head. But sometimes, and this is horrible, I feel like the mack truck hits my body. Along with the noise, my body experiences a "whoosh" of pressure. It's not painful, just alarming. It makes my whole body jump and it's disabling enough make me wonder how long that actually occurred. And what I looked like. It's especially worse when trying to go to sleep.
Lesser "brain shocks" can be triggered by rapid eye movement.
Along with this, I am experiencing insomnia, coupled by hypersomnia when I do sleep. (In excess of 14 hours, never hearing an alarm.) Incredibly vivid dreams. Awake, I am very spacy and distracted. I also experience short term memory problems. (For example, I want to ask someone something but I feel like I've asked it just a second before. More "real" feeling that deja vu.)
This is my flavor of Paroxotine withdrawal. It starts about a week in. Sometimes, depending on how stressed I am, these "brain shocks" can tell me that I've missed my pill the night before.
Taking Xanax seems to help with the "brain zaps", but not the other symptoms.
I've been on many different SSRI's, particularly the older ones, and I've never had this withdrawal symptom. However, I'm not sure if that has something to do with the medications themselves or the age that I took them, because I was a teenager/young adult then.
Jen, be really careful with the xanax. I have experienced the brain zaps with the anti-depressants. I'm now back on Lexapro after quitting Cymbalta AND xanax abruptly after 2 1/2 years (stupid, long story, but that's what happened). With the xanax withdrawal, I had the more physical symptoms you describe - that would be like a jolt and zap, kind of like when you're on the verge of sleep and something jolts you awake like a bug buzzing in your ear - or is that just me?? Anyway, the xanax ones were after about 10 hours of major illness that was detoxing. I can right now not really take anything for my anxiety other than essential oils or my beta blocker. The jolts from xanax made me feel it was not safe for me to drive while they were happening, and I felt really disoriented. My therapist is not comfortable with me having nothign for anxiety, but I am terrified of going back on anything in the same family as xanax, as the doctor that had me on it had def overprescribed, as we all know is common practice :( My therapist I think (and my regular MD) have a better handle on managing my meds than the psychiatrist did. My insurance had raised the price on cymbalta anyway, and my therapist recommended lexapro for dealing with anxiety and depression combined. I agree, there is not enough research on the side affects and what happens when people try to wean off - admittedly, my running out and quitting abruptly was stupid and dangerous, but ultimately, the clarity I gained was worth it. Xanax was a great help for me, but it was mismanaged I think, both by the doctor and by myself - he was prescribing it to me for both anxiety and sleep. My therapist was the one who pointed out that if I used it for sleep it was going to lose effectiveness for anxiety, and I think the doctor was in a way using it as a way to keep me as a patient, sad as that sounds. I think it's true in many cases tho. So just be careful, and hopefully you have a friend/spouse/family member who can keep an eye on your meds along with your doc. Me, I am going thru a divorce, and isolating is one of my issues, so it was like the perfect storm :( Best of luck to you and take care and be careful!!
Thank you for your concern sweetie. I used to have major panic disorder, and that's why I've been on them. Now I just take the Xanax when I'm feeling like I want to crawl out of my skin, or have bouts of very bad RLS during the night and absolutely cannot sleep, and I'm aggravating the arthritis in my ankles from rubbing my legs on the sheets so aggressively. I usually break up my 1mg's into halves or quarters. On my worst days, I don't think I take any more than 2mg. I write down what I do take because I am on Vicodin as well for IBS and the arthritis. And I am only 28.
I am so sorry you are going through so much and my heart goes out to you. I hope that you can find good social support through this difficult time. I am leaving an emotionally abusive relationship, so I can sympathize.
Best of luck to you as well.
Just reading the word "sweetie" is soothing in this sea of stressful (but necessary) comparisons.
The"Brain Zaps" used to get me when I had a fever in my youth. AS an adult I took SSRI's (Zoloft and Lexapro) without much trouble getting off of them - cold turkey. But that has changed and the "zaps" are directly attributed to SSRI discontinuation syndrome (look it up on wiki). After tapering off Lexapro for 3 weeks they are still around, especially when eyes shift, or sharp changes in light or even sound. I don't know if they have weakened or if I am getting used to them. Still uncomfortable enough for me to reach out. :)
I hope they don't last much longer but I have to see this through. No one ever comes back to report that they have passed? So there's no idea how long it should take. I read somewhere - normally 2-3 weeks, or 2-4 months...
What I've read helps:
1. Omega 3
2. Vitamin B (B12 specifically)
3. Hydration - did notice after cola or coffee they hit harder
4. Multivitamin - makes sense since vitamins depend on each other to absorb properly.
Budaproprion - Anyone on this have the "zap" sensitivity? I've started on this twice and both times these zaps so it might be a coincidence. Hope so.
Zaps finally went away - 4 months later. They were distractingly bad for about 8 weeks, then became less noticeable for the next 4 weeks until finally I cannot trigger them - 4 months later.
They were worse when I had little sleep, and nothing seemed to relieve them, though the vitamin B & multi vitamin seemed to help. Omega 3's - no noticeable difference for me.
Also - moving from SSRI to Wellbutrin might have prolonged the withdrawals - I don't know. They just seems to feel like small seizures so I attributed them to Wellbutrin.
Hang in there everyone, they fade and go away eventually.
Thanks so much for updating on your symptoms Dave! Many people share about the withdraw sytmptoms, but few report when they diminish. You have given me hope that my symptoms will go away in time. That is a wonderful gift you have given me - thank you!
Thank you for your post! I too made the switch to Welbutrin. I'm two weeks in and the " brain zaps" have not diminished . I was beginning to worry that I might just need to learn to live with them. You have given me hope!
Dave, thank you so much for updating! This is all so frightening. I have been off of Cymbalta for just over two weeks. I had only taken a low dose (60 mg) for three months. I tapered down to 30 mg before quitting altogether, as instructed by my psychiatrist. I felt that is wasn't working for me and that I felt a bit disconnected, distant from my life. She prescribed Welbutrin, which I am on now.
The "brain zaps" are so scary! When I move my eyes too far to the left or right, I feel what I assume motion sickness must be like. The following headaches can be unreal in their intensity. I am experiencing many of the other withdrawal symptoms as well, but honestly having my brain feel as if it has been damaged and cannot be counted upon is the most terrifying and difficult to deal with for me. It is so unpredictable!
I've been searching the internet for some glimmer of hope that the end of this may be in sight. Having been on such a low dose, for such a short period of time, I have been shocked by the persistence and strength of the effects of cessation. Thank you for taking the time to come back and share that. I am sure that I am not the only one who needed to find it. :)
As everyone has said, thank you for giving your update. Mine went away within a week of starting the medication again (Paxil), but that doesn't give comfort to people who are withdrawing from the medication completely. (By the way, always consult with your doctor before stopping any medication, especially an SSRI. There can be greater risks than the subject at hand.)
The cycle has started again with this horrible medication. I am taking it for another two months, and then I will work on responsibly weaning myself off of it. I am doing it now with Xanax and Neurontin, and I am a little over two months clean from Vicodin. All prescribed, all with little thought to what it would do to me as a person. I was just another patient, another number.
I had to take Paroxetine every other day... it's a long story, but I now have a regular script. But with that irregularity I'm experiencing the "brain zaps" again.
Your words are comforting, but what about the others in these comments that claim to have suffered from these "fireworks" (sounds so innocuous, right?) for YEARS? What the heck is that?
I am glad you are well. I just wish the same for others, and I wish that the medical community would recognize that this is a real freakin' problem. And in some cases it's debilitating and long-term.
I took Bupropion for quiting to smoke but am not sure if the brain zaps developed from it.
I know your post is from last year but I also stopped taking Effexor cold turkey and immediately experienced brain zaps. Went to the doctor who said the only way to not experience any withdrawal symptoms from Effexor is to take Prozac.....he said there are no withdrawal symptoms when Prozac is stopped, so I took it for a week, stopped, and was fine. People don't know Prozac works this way.
I've been having these brain zaps since I started on a low dose (20mg daily) of citalopran about a year ago. I usually get them when I am either falling asleep or waking up. I am now tapering off citalopram and am getting them during the day also. Sometimes one but usually multiple in a row. They only occur in my head and don't cause any problems with other parts of my body. I also have tinnitus and they inturrupt the buzzing momentarily as they are zapping but the tinnitus returns thereafter. They don't hurt but they do bother me as I wonder what is going on. I'm hoping they go away after I've dicontinued the citalopram. Wishing someday ther will also be a cure for the tinnitus!!!
very useful information we got here, hope someday it can help me..thanks
That's my term for them. It happens if I am going off a med or if I miss a dose. I call them flickers b/c they remind me of that visual - usually in a black and white artsy film, of a single naked light bulb flickering and buzzing. Another (and I thought ingenius) description from one of two people I know who experience them - 'it's like being a robot who's battery is running low, and you're about to power off...' They tend to drastically increase my anxiety, and it freaks me out to realize that my brain chemistry is being changed to such a degree. I've experienced this with Lexapro, Cymbalta, Strattera and Topomax. They also make me want to quit taking the meds :(
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Jean Pollack, Ph.D., is a psychologist, life coach, mediator, and author.
Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?