What are Brain Zaps, and why do they happen with Migraine?

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Brain zaps feel like an electrical buzzing sensation in your head. If you often feel a jolt of electricity in your brain, then it could be a symptom of migraine medication withdrawal.

What are Brain Zaps, and why do they happen with Migraine? Migravent

You’re not going crazy!

Patients describe them as weird buzzing sounds that come when they’re trying to sleep, or sudden jolts of electrical shocks in the head. Brain zaps are a common side effect of SSRI antidepressants used to treat migraines, depression, and anxiety.

SSRI discontinuation syndrome, or withdrawal from antidepressants, happens when your neurological system is adjusting to a sudden decrease or cessation of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

If you accidentally skipped a pill, or decided to go cold turkey on your migraine medications (not a good idea), then a neurochemical change occurs in your brain, withdrawal symptoms known as brain zaps, brain shivers, brain shocks, brain pulse-waves, flickers, or cranial zings.

Examples of SSRIs

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) sometimes used for depression and migraine include:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Sarafem)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

In addition to antidepressants, other medications that may cause brain zaps with migraine include benzodiazepines for anxiety and sleeping pills.

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SSRI withdrawal symptoms

Brains zaps are just one side effect of antidepressant discontinuation.

Other SSRI migraine medication withdrawal symptoms that may occur, in addition to brain zaps, include:

  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

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Prevent brain zaps

Psychologists believe that depression may occur because of limited cell growth in the nervous system. To prevent depression and symptoms of withdrawal naturally, many doctors emphasize taking natural supplements that support brain cell growth and healthy neurological functioning.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes brain cell production, and is available as a supplement. Serotonin is also helpful for treating SSRI withdrawal side effects of insomnia by helping you sleep more restfully.

Other helpful natural ingredients include coenzyme Q10, which increases cellular metabolism, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) for neurological integrity.

Your turn!

Have you ever experienced brain zap, and wondered what was causing it?

Have you tried weaning off antidepressants, but had problems with severe symptoms of withdrawal?

Do you have any questions or suggestions?  Please leave your comments below.

Share with your friends!

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Like this? Read more:

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Migraine Medication Pros and Cons: the Basics

Top 25 Natural Migraine Treatments: Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs

Can Anxiety Attacks cause Migraines?


Bottled lightning- BMJ

‘Brain shivers’: from chat room to clinic

Fireworks or Brain Zaps? Psychology Today

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Image(s) courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net