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Brain zaps

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Bee5

Like many people, I experienced brain zaps due to SSRI withdrawal. However, I also experience brain zaps at the onset of a viral infection, during a viral infection, and post a viral infection. I experience them with cold and flu viruses, and gastric viruses. The brain zaps are more frequent than during withdrawal, i.e. they appear at the slightest movement, even though I have been in bed for 48 hours with a gastric flu. I have scanned the internet and searched this forum, but I don''t see people posting about brain zaps associated with a virus. Am I alone in my experience? 

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ChessieCat

If you have diarrhea and are going to the toilet a lot you might possibly be absorbing less of your dose/s of drugs.

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Bee5

Thanks Chessie. I get the brain zaps with any type of virus - including respiratory ones, so I don't think it's related to diarrhea. I did come across one thread on the internet where people hypothesised that it could have something to do with internal temperature regulation, and that it changes when your body is fighting a virus. I was hoping that SA members would share their experiences, since this is the biggest repository of patient symptoms I know. I am hoping some people comes across the thread in a search of the site. I can't be the only one to experience this.

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ChessieCat

From https://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/flu-and-brain-shocks-in-patient.973676/

 

Quote

 

The last two times he's gotten a flu or cold (he has the flu right now, tympanic temperature self-reported as 101.5 F), he reports what he calls brain shocks that he says are identical to the ones he had when he abruptly discontinued Paxil years before.

 

 

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Bee5

Thanks Chessie. This is the forum discussion I was referring to in my post. I have not been able to find anything other than this. 

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ChessieCat

(I'm on tapered internet speed at the moment so can't get to every site)

 

https://www.justanswer.com/health/7j78i-ever-heard-something-brain-zaps-fever.html

 

(google abbreviation) From https://forum.schizophrenia.com/t/when-i-get-sick/16510

 

Quote

Dec 27, 2014 - I usually get brain zaps when I get the flu or a bad cold. The same brain zaps you get after missing a few doses of a SSRI.

 

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Bee5

Thanks for these, it helps to know I'm not alone.

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sunnysideup69

I have a question about a strange sensation I've been getting in my brain. I never experienced it before switching from Citalopram to Venlafaxine, where I'm now holding.

 

I get the sensation of my brain 'crinkling' inside my head, it even sounds a bit like that, very faintly. It's a bit like someone has a screwed up piece of paper in there which they are compressing.

 

Are these brain zaps? I'm assuming they are to do with the switch. They aren't particularly troubling, just weird. 

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SolarPlexus
On 12/9/2019 at 6:07 PM, sunnysideup69 said:

I have a question about a strange sensation I've been getting in my brain. I never experienced it before switching from Citalopram to Venlafaxine, where I'm now holding.

 

I get the sensation of my brain 'crinkling' inside my head, it even sounds a bit like that, very faintly. It's a bit like someone has a screwed up piece of paper in there which they are compressing.

 

Are these brain zaps? I'm assuming they are to do with the switch. They aren't particularly troubling, just weird. 

@sunnysideup69 Yes it sounds like it is. One article I just came across online describes brain zaps as any of the following sensations:

  • “Flicking cards” through your head
  • Electrical jolts, shocks, pulses of electricity
  • “Pop rocks” in the head
  • Lightning strikes in the brain
  • Shivers of the brain
  • Strobe light flashing in the brain

So I guess crinkling inside the head could fall somewhere along that spectrum. Has that symptom abated for you? 

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Altostrata

Is your symptom like little electrical snaps? Those are brain zaps.

 

They have been described many ways, thanks, SolarPlexus. Can you give us a link to that article?

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SolarPlexus
6 hours ago, Altostrata said:

Is your symptom like little electrical snaps? Those are brain zaps.

 

They have been described many ways, thanks, SolarPlexus. Can you give us a link to that article?

Hi @Altostrata @Sunnysideup@sunnysideup69 here is the link to the article: https://blog.cognifit.com/brain-zaps/

The reason I looked up the topic last night is because I've had "pop rocks/fizzy lollipop" sensations in my head over the past 7 months and I didn't know what they were. They don't feel like the typical descriptions of electrical zaps but according to this article they do fall into that category. It's actually super relieving to finally know what that symptom is. Since I now know it's brain zaps I'm considering trying a mild dose of omega 3 supplement to see if it helps relieve them. I read that it has worked with some people. I can start with a small dose. I can try magnesium at a later point too. I know that these are the only two supplements SA actually mentions. The rest are considered risky. Anyway, wishing a good day for both of you. 

 

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sunnysideup69

Thanks @Altostrata and @SolarPlexus :) 

 

Indeed, they are like little electrical snaps in my head. Because I've had some bigger zaps in the past, (rather like a firework going off in my head), I wasn't sure what these were.

 

I've been taking Omega 3s religiously over the past nine months and they've gone.

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SolarPlexus
3 minutes ago, sunnysideup69 said:

Thanks @Altostrata and @SolarPlexus :) 

 

Indeed, they are like little electrical snaps in my head. Because I've had some bigger zaps in the past, (rather like a firework going off in my head), I wasn't sure what these were.

 

I've been taking Omega 3s religiously over the past nine months and they've gone.

@sunnysideup69 that's wonderful to hear! So glad the symptom is gone for you. I am now encouraged to try an omega 3 supplement. How many milligrams a day do you take? 

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sunnysideup69

@SolarPlexus I take a pure fish oil supplement of 1100mg. It's made up of 360mg EPA and 240mg DHA....you might want to start lower just to check out it agrees with you/you aren't sensitive to a higher dose. 

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SolarPlexus
20 minutes ago, sunnysideup69 said:

@SolarPlexus I take a pure fish oil supplement of 1100mg. It's made up of 360mg EPA and 240mg DHA....you might want to start lower just to check out it agrees with you/you aren't sensitive to a higher dose. 

@sunnysideup69 this is very helpful. Thank you. I appreciate it. Yes I will start with a low dose. I wish you a wonderful day. 

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Altostrata

Merged similar topics.

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Avrgejane

Hi there,

 

I’m wondering what can be constituted as a seizure? I’ve never had this before withdrawaling from

medication, and this is the second time I’ve had this now since June (It’s July now and I’ve been off just over 9.5 months). I’ve been woken up out of dead sleep with painful electrical shock like feelings in my head with my head shaking/trembling uncontrollably. Feels almost like a charley horse in my neck, head and brain. The first time it happened on the right side of my head, last night it happened on the left. It doesn’t last long. Maybe a minute but is terrifying and painful. I do not see any lights or anything, just the painful electricity, etc. I wake up the next morning feeling like I have a little headache and very sore muscles on that side. I should also note that I was a cold turkey essentially and I have had an MRI that came back clear (with mention of tiny cysts below the basal ganglia - the report said these were of no clinical significance?). All of my neurological tests came back normal.  
 

Any thoughts or experiences like this from others?

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DataGuy
Posted (edited)

Hi @Avrgejane

 

These sound like brain zaps, which I think @Altostrata described as something like seizure activity. This thread on the subject may be helpful. Has this ever happened while you were awake? Do you take anything to sleep? Are you taking any other supplements other than the GABA? Vitamins? Teas that help with sleep? Coffee with caffeine? How is the weaning of the GABA going and what pace are you going at?

 

Seizure activity is possible in amitriptyline withdrawal, so we can't rule that out as the cause. Did you see the neurologist after or before you had the seizure-like activity? 

 

I know that benzodiazepines can raise the risk of seizures even past 1 year of stopping them, so it may be possible with amitriptyline as well, it is a sedating medication after all. If you have already gone to the doctor to rule out other causes, that is good. There are some tips from people on that thread which may help you minimize them. 

 

 

Edited by DataGuy

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Avrgejane

Thank you so much for replying! 
 

So when I first was off the amitriptyline, I was getting blasts of light in my eyes when sleeping. I thought those were brain zaps! I do have flashing lights/sparkly trailing lights, burning and twitching/jerking still. I did see the neurologist and he was like yup - it’s benzo and ad withdrawal and you can’t do anything about it. And that was it! The MRI was normal so he didn’t want to see me again, even though I tried to book another appointment. 
 

The funny thing is I literally had this for the first time the night before my MRI! And nothing showed up...not that I was hoping something would but it scared the hell out of me! 
 

I’m almost done weaning the Gaba supplement. I have 8 more days to go then I’m done and I do not take any more supplements. I have started the methyl vitamin b12 in very low dose because my levels were “within range” but certainly low. After the Gaba supplement is done, that will be the only thing I will be taking aside from my thyroid medication. 
 

And no, it hasn’t happened while awake thank goodness. It’s so scary to be jolted awake by this electrical pain and shaking of my head, especially almost 10 months off! 

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Altostrata

Those sound like brain zaps or

 

with maybe muscle spasms.

 

3 hours ago, Avrgejane said:

I have had an MRI that came back clear (with mention of tiny cysts below the basal ganglia - the report said these were of no clinical significance?)

 

I have no idea what this means. Maybe follow up now that you have this symptom?

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DataGuy
Posted (edited)

Thanks @Avrgejane. I'm glad you will be off the GABA soon. I'm not sure there is too much benefit to taking it. It doesn't cross the blood brain barrier (luckily), but would still affect all the GABA receptors in your peripheral nervous system. I don't think there is much evidence for many supplements, and many are not even tested for efficacy. We do recommend fish oil if you wanted to take something. Others have said it helps dampen there symptoms, but I haven't taken it myself. 

 

I see that you had been taking quite a bit of magnesium, GABA and theanine around the time of the your withdrawal? Had you taken large amounts of sedating type supplements prior to that? Adverse reactions are also possible to supplements, although you don't always hear about them as much. I am just wondering if these could have contributed to the problem....It is just a theory. They are finding now that many sedating meds, like anti-epileptic drugs, benzodiazepines, anesthetics (along with alcohol) have a certain level of neurotoxicity associated with them. I think it is entirely possible that supplements which affect neurotransmitters in similar ways could also have these effects, but I should stress I haven't seen specific studies demonstrating this. 

 

I think you said your diet was ok, that is good to hear. I'm sorry you are still suffering, but happy you've had some improvements. Please keep taking care of yourself, exercising, sleeping and eating well and you will get there : )

 

Thank you for replying @Altostrata

Edited by DataGuy

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Altostrata

People have found taking omega-3 fish oil can diminish brain zaps.

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Avrgejane

@Altostrata @DataGuy

 

Thank you both for replying! Wow if these are brain zaps they are terrifying and painful! I may try the fish oil again after I wean off the Gaba completely. Whatever it is it is certainly painful and scary! I have read the others’ thread and wondered this too - about brain zaps. Have people described it as painful before? And you are most certainly correct Alto, my neck was in complete spasm - felt like it was going all the way up into my skull. 
 

I was taking a lot of supplements at the beginning because I was so horrible. I’m glad I’m stopping everything completely now. I found that I couldn’t take the magnesium at all. It was making me worse for sure. And you know, your theory Data makes complete sense. That is primarily why I’ve decided to wean off everything and just heal - and heal using food. I know a lot of people say to also focus on the gut and I have been using yogurt and manuka for that as opposed to taking a probiotic. 
 

I also did try to book with the neurologist to discuss my results but he was like “nope”. I have an appointment with one of my doctors tomorrow virtually so maybe I will ask her about this too. 
 

I have had the exploding head thing happen before too, Alto. Scared the crap out of me! I haven’t (knock on wood) had it in a while thankfully. 
 

Do people also report having headaches and muscle pain after brain zaps by chance? I didn’t see that in the threads. 
 

Many thanks to both of you for replying xo

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Altostrata

There seems to be a lot of variation in the zaps. People feel them in other parts of their bodies as well.

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