Do you often feel an electric jolt like sensation in your brain? Are you trying to wean off your antidepressants? If yes, then these sensations might be related to brain zaps. Brain zaps are newly introduced terms that came from the internet discussion board. It was named when a group of people were discussing their experience after stopping the antidepressants such as Paxil, Lexapro, and others. Brain zaps are not included as a medical term in psychology.
Brain zaps can be defined as an electric-like sensation felt in the brain after stopping or trying to wean off the antidepressants.
Brain zaps are one of the common side effects or we can say physical sensations felt during discontinuing an antidepressant and are usually a withdrawal symptom. In this article, let us explore the causes of brain zaps, their seriousness, and how to get rid of them.
Causes of Brain Zaps
Although brain zaps are not a medical term, they can be used to describe experiences like physical sensations related to anxiety, or sensations related to drug use. However, they are commonly used to describe discontinuing antidepressants.
In a study, I found that 20% of people usually develop this sensation after ending the use of antidepressants. This sensation or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is most likely to happen during reducing your medication in a short period of time or going cold turkey.
Fact Check: Cold Turkey refers to the significant risk experienced after quitting substance use such as alcohol, an opioid, or a benzodiazepine. Psychologically, it is defined as the “abrupt complete cessation of the use of an addictive drug.”
Research shows that there’s no particular reason behind the brain zaps, however, one study shows that brain zaps might be caused due to the reduction of serotonin receptors while stopping the antidepressants and it directly impacts the neurotransmitters.
Signs of Brain Zaps
Signs and symptoms of brain zaps are usually experienced after 2-4 days basically after tapering off the process. Brain zaps can usually last several weeks or longer. Symptoms are likely to dissolve if you start taking the medications (same, new, or similar antidepressant). Besides, an electric sensation in the brain, brain zaps can cause:
Nausea or vomiting
Burning or tingling sensations
Feeling agitated or angry over little things
The fact is that brain zaps are experienced differently by everyone. But if you ask me how they feel, they certainly feel like an electric sensation in the brain. Some people also describe them as shock-like, burning, or tingling sensations in the brain.
In order to find the exact feeling, I tried collecting data from a few researchers and patients who described brain zaps as:
Brain zaps generally last for two-three seconds, they are rarely longer than this
Brain zaps are mostly described as electric shocks
Some people felt black while experiencing a brain zap
Some people felt like their brain was “rebooting”
Some people described brain zaps as they moved their head side to side without even moving
Some people felt as if their brain was buzzing
Some people described a short pain in the brain
Some people described brain zaps as multiple short zaps in a row
Some people also described seizures
Some people described brain zaps as if they were orgasming
Tips to Get Rid of Brain Zaps
Research shows that symptoms of brain zap generally go away within a week. If someone experiences mild or temporary symptoms, they must try the “wait it out” technique.
If someone experiences extreme, uncomfortable, or disturbing sensations, brain zaps might last for a longer time, in such situations, an individual might work on managing the symptoms. In such situations, it is also important to prevent, treat, and cope with them. Here’s what you can do to fix the brain zaps.
If the symptoms are uncontrollable or unpleasant, you must connect with your mental health provider so that they assess you on the basis of your symptoms, history, severity, and other factors. During the treatment, a professional might try to:
Wean the medication faster so that side effects can be reduced
Provide appropriate knowledge to replace negative thoughts
Switch to other medications like Prozac to stop the symptoms
Taper off the medication slowly to reduce the symptoms
Self-Help Coping Tips for Brain Zaps
People who are trying to wean off the antidepressants might need extra support. Here’s what you can do to cope with the symptoms of brain zaps:
Try some effective self-care activities
Seek social support when needed
Brain zaps can be prevented only when we have a solid plan and the assistance of a mental health professional. It’s also important to have a detailed discussion with your professional before stopping the medications. During the discussion, you might want to learn about the best schedule to wean off the medication, side effects, duration, and how to cope with them.
I hope this blog helps you understand brain zaps and how to get rid of them after stopping antidepressants naturally. Comment down and share your experiences on the same to raise awareness. For more such content, connect with us on all social media platforms.
Thanks for reading!