Brain zaps can be described as sharp electrical shock sensations in the head and brain which sometimes originate in the head and extend throughout the body. For many, it feels as though one's brain has experienced a sudden series of brief vibrations or jolts of electricity that can cause intense discomfort, disorientation, and distress.
This effect can be caused by the withdrawal, dose reduction, or discontinuation of antidepressant drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as sertraline, paroxetine, and venlafaxine. It can also be caused by MDMA use and the experience may sometimes last for days at a time. If caused by antidepressant withdrawal, it is strongly recommended that one taper or reduce their dose gradually instead of stopping abruptly. Tramadol, an opioid painkiller with SNRI properties, has also been reported to cause brain zaps upon abrupt discontinuation.
Fish oil has been reported to provide temporary relief from this affliction, although scientific literature supporting this claim is sparse.
Compounds within our psychoactive substance index which may cause this effect include:
- Psilocybin mushrooms
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
- Responsible use
- Subjective effects index
- Psychedelics - Subjective effects
- Dissociatives - Subjective effects
- Deliriants - Subjective effects
- Fireworks or brain zaps? | Psychology Today | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-way-life/201107/fireworks-or-brain-zaps
- Why You Get 'Brain Zaps' After Taking MDMA, and How You Can Stop Them (Vice) http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/brain-zaps-sleep-paralysis-mdma-ecstasy?utm_source=vicefbuk
- "SSRIs and SNRIs: A review of the Discontinuation Syndrome in Children and Adolescents." (2011) by Hosenbocus S, MD FRCP(C) and Chahal R, MSW. | https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3024727/
- "Fireworks or Brain Zaps? Antidepressants and brain zapping." (2011) By Jean Pollack, Ph.D. | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-way-life/201107/fireworks-or-brain-zaps