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Stopping Antidepressant Makes Brain Shiver

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Q. I was put on Cymbalta to stop hot flashes from menopause. When I switched doctors, my new physician was angry that I had been put on an antidepressant for hot flashes and put me on hormones instead.

I am now trying to stop taking Cymbalta. The dosage was reduced for several months. Then I took a pill every other day for months. I have not taken any for over two weeks and my life is a living hell.

I cannot turn around without falling over from dizziness. I cannot go up or down stairs without falling. Running or exercising is out of the question. No one told me that this would happen. How much longer will these dizzy spells continue? Is there anything I can do to stop them?

A. Cymbalta is not the only antidepressant that can cause trouble upon discontinuation. Doctors don’t always warn patients about the possibility of withdrawal symptoms (dizziness, difficulty concentrating, sweating, anxiety, insomnia or electric shock-like sensations) when they prescribe such medicines.

Another reader related this: “I am experiencing the ‘brain shivers’ of Effexor withdrawal. I reduced the dosage from 75 mg to 37.5 mg and had been on that dose for a month. I have been off for about a week and I have constant brain shivers. Is there anything that can help lessen these odd side effects?”

We don’t know of any good way to diminish the uncomfortable side effects resulting from withdrawal except to take it even more slowly.
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When I read the description of "brain shivers" in this column I was elated to give this feeling an accurate name. I too have suffered from these brain shivers that started about six months after I switched from Paxil to Effexor and had a partial historectomy. They began a few days after surgery and were attributed to an after-effect of the anethestic. However they persisted and became routine with my monthly cycle.

I went to many doctors and neurologists who wanted to do a battery of tests, yet NONE connected it to the Effexor. My doctor even upped my dose from 150mg to 225mgs per day. (I am 53 and weigh 135) I realized that if I didn't take it at the exact same time every day or forgot it, I went into this "brain shiver" withdrawal.
I'm still not sure how my hormones came into play here. But I recently changed to Lexepro (via my own research and request) and have not suffered the brain shivers so far. I will continue to be my own health advocate, and continue to read your articles as part of that process.

Please check with your doctor to see if you can receive small doses of an anti-anxiety drug like Xanax or Ativan while you are stepping down the dose. Some people have reported success with this method. I recently switched from Effexor to Cymbalta, stepping down the Effexor over a two week period from 150mg to 37.5, then stopping altogether. My psychiatrist even said I could break open a capsule of Effexor (not usually recommended) and take an even smaller dose if I needed to. He cited an unusual situation of a woman who could not take solids and just opened the capsule and sprinkled it on her tongue to take her daily dose.

People who take AD drugs refer to the "brain shivers" as "brain zaps" which seems more accurate. Please consult your doctor for more help with your symptoms, you should not need to suffer unecessarily. Hang in there!

I have been put on several anti depressants for various reasons (Effexor for fibromyalgia). I never had any trouble stopping them but after knee replacement surgery I was on narcotics for 7 months. I did feel the skin sensation of crawling across my shoulders for a day but two days on anti-anxiety medication ( Xanax) took care of that. I hope this can help someone else who is having withdrawal troubles from Vicodin.

I was given Cymbalta along with another drug to help with chronic headaches. It did not help HA but caused stomach problems, so I quit taking it after 3+ months of usage. I then opened the capsule of Cymbalta and mixed some with applesauce and slowly decreased the amount I took each day. I believe I took it for a week or more decreasing the amount of granules in the applesauce daily. I did not have any problems. Hope this will help someone!!


Go to your local GNC or Whole Foods store and buy some Omega 3 fish oil capsules. I can't remember who makes the ones that worked the best, but it was Omega 3, and it was called EPA EXTRA. The important thing is to get an omega 3 with MORE THAN 500mg of EPA per dose. I took the EPA EXTRA with 800mg and the brain shivers went away almost immediately. They just recently came back, so I got some more, but in any case this stuff is great for lots of things--it just improves general brain function and should help ASAP. The stuff is kind of pricey for a vitamin supplement at 20-30 dollars a bottle, but SO, SO WORTH IT!!! Good luck, this stuff sucks but you'll be all right.

I was reduced from 90mg to 60mg of Cymbalta. I started this AD when I had been off Paxil for about 1 year. I knew about AD withdrawal because it took me 6 months to get off of Paxil. I repeatedly asked my perscriber about the addiction level of Cymbalta. She reasured me that the withdrawal would not be anywhere near as bad as the Paxil.

Wow, how wrong the information that Lilly puts out is. I was sick, brain shivers, dizzy, short tempered, headaches, yawning, restlessness, not able to sleep, skin crawling. I did not realize what was happening to me. When I did I was so crazy that I took the 30mgs that my body wanted and understand why addicts do not want off the drugs.

What do I do now? I want to sue Lilly for not being truthful about the withdrawal. I am scared to death to miss a dose. These ADs are great when you need them but they are useless if you want to kill yourself when you are withdrawing.

Was on Celexa (Citalopram 20mg) for about 6 mos. (was devestated, as my sister was dying from pancreatic cancer). I just recently decided to stop gradually & then cold turkey (my sister died 3 months ago). Whenever I move fast, or read, my head feels these weird pulses. It is scary.

I am so angry that I was not told this would happen to me. I just wanted something to get through the devestating experience of my lovely sister dying. Now, even though I grieved more b/f she died, I am still grieving (not depressed) but, on top of that I have to try to deal with these brain chills.

I never, never would have agreed to take these if I knew that I would have to go through this awful uncomfortableness. Pissed is putting it mildly. Do not ever, unless you are really, really in bad shape, agree to start taking anti-depressants!!!!!

Wow, I thought I was literally going crazy from these "brain shivers/zaps". I've been so incredibly uncomfortable the last couple of days I have wanted to lock my head in a vice. I am attempting to stop taking Cymbalta because I hate it so much, it makes me sick to my stomach and if I miss 1 dose only, I get these shivers/zaps. I can't even see straight or hardly drive they are so bad. I will absolutely try the omega 3 suggestion as well as another suggestion of taking just 1 prozac. I tried taking xanax, but it didnt help. Thanks for this website!

My experience: I went from 75mg Zoloft to fifty then to nothing. For several days I was fine, then I felt I was losing it. Totally irritable, very dizzy - had to lie down often, and the worst was what I now see people calling "brain shivers". For me it was like the sound of a race car in my head coming from a far, approaching quickly, and then zooming by - but all inside my head - very scary - really feels like your brain chemistry is flipping out. I couldn't stand it and went back on the meds, but only to 50mg. My plan is to reduce to 25mg for a long while and then try again from there. It is at least some comfort to not be alone in this - though I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone.

Thank you for this article and the informative comments. I'm withdrawing from Paxil (regular, not CR). I was on 20mg. With a pill splitter I was able to reduce my dose to 15mg for several weeks, then 10mg for several months. Just went down to 5mg the other day, and the brain shivers returned. I have experienced them at every step down, BUT since I'm going so slowly and since I know what they are and why I am having them, they are tolerable. My advice is to withdraw as SLOWLY as possible. When it's all said and done, it will probably have taken me 5 months or more to go from 20mg to zero.

I'm not angry at Paxil, it was very helpful to me when I needed it and worked well. I just wish there was more info out there about how you should stop very slowly, and start slowly too for that matter. When my doc prescribed 20mg for me, I instead started at 10mg for several weeks before moving up to 20mg.

This info should be coming from doctors, not being learned on the internet.


I had been taking 120 mgs of Cymbalta for almost 2 years when I began to have symptoms of very stiff muscles, irritable, aching all over but especially at the base of my head and behind my ears. I suspected the dose of Cymbalta was much too high.

From the tapering off of the medication to the withdrawal I feel like I have been to hell. It has been 2 1/2 months since I have been totally off and I am still very fragil. My psychiatrist says this just doesn't happen. I am glad that I read the boards and know that it really does. Hopefully, one day I will be a whole again. Any success stories out there?

I've spent the past month going off of Lexapro, 1/4 of a dose a week. My last day was Friday, and I started to get the brain zaps on Monday. I remember them from last time I went off Lexapro, and I lived, so I guess I will this time too. I am going to try the Omega 3 though, can't hurt. I don't want to start Lexapro ever again, gained too much weight on it anyway.

I want to thank every one on this site for responding and giving ideas about the brain shivers. I have been on Paxil for about 4 years and I just found out from my doctor what some of side effects are... for one, In the last 4 years I have gained 75 lbs and couldn’t figure out why. So I told the doctor that I wanted to get off of the Paxil… My doctor told me just how to get off of it. I followed his instructions and then the brain shivers began. Not even knowing what to call them I went back to my doctor and tried to describe to him what I was feeling. I’m now going in to get a CT scan on Friday to see if there’s anything wrong with my head.

I just got home from work and my boyfriend tells me he looked up Paxil and found this site. I am so glad that I know how to describe what is going on in my head to my doctor … Tomorrow I will be calling him and telling him what I found out from this site. I also want to know if there is or will be a class action law suit for people like us that have had these horrible brain shivers… I will try the omega 3 and see if this helps. I am still wondering if I don’t take omega 3 or If it doesn’t help how long will they actually last. I can’t go on my whole life feeling like this. It sucks and all I want to do is cry. Even reading all of your comments makes me just want to cry because this medication has been in my body for 4 years now and I'm really scared!

Thanks again every one …

Hi Folks,

OK, here is some info that may/not make you feel better.

Being on any AD that is an SSRI (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) has about a 60/40 chance of being difficult.

A number of websites exist that explain how to taper down. *HINT* Most Dr's, PA's, Nurses do -not- believe anything but what the Manf. provides or tells them.

Most people can cut their dose by 25-50% with no problems, brain zaps, etc.
If you do this, you want to stay at this level for at least 3 weeks.
Once you've stabilized, you can then start reducing 5-10% every 2 weeks.
If you go to fast and get some withdrawal effects, you can take a fraction of a dose to get you to your previous level.
Stay at the previous level for another 2 weeks, and then try cutting down by a smaller amount.

AS YOU GET TO THE LOWER DOSAGES, start lower your % reduction, ie. if you were cutting 10% every 2 weeks at 20mg/day, then at 10mg/day, cut dose by 5%/day.

Most AD's now prescribed affect Serotonin Reuptake.
Basically, they act like a drain block, not allowing the serotonin to drain from the inter-neuronal space as quickly.

As you lower your AD dose, you effectively are -unblocking- the drain bit by bit.

This allows more serotonin to escape more quickly from the interneuronal space, IE. closer to 'normal', pre-A/D state.

However, our brains are a staggering amount of pathways, conduits, bio-feedback mechanisms, and cascading triggers that operate with a certain balance.
Your brain adapted to the start of A/D over the course of several weeks or months.

Going the reverse, is simply something that will take more than a week or a month for most people.

Some people can quit with no side affects.
Most people can quit with a tapering regimen as above with a month or two with minimal side affects.
A good 20-40% need longer.

Work with your doctor.
See if you can get a compounding scrip or a liquid vesion for more accurate dosing. is one a several good sites to check.

I took lexapro for 2 years and went off of it March, 2006. I tapered SLOWLY, slowly, but still had the brain zaps. They were horrible and lasted for well over a month and then slowly diminished. I have been terrified to try another antidepressant after that, but am not doing well. My doctor has prescribed Pristiq and said there are very few side effects, but after learning it is an active metabolite of effexor, I am very concerned about starting it. Any thoughts/experiences?


I was on 60mg of Cymbalta for 2-3 years. It worked ok, but I still experienced down moods, anxiety, and racing thoughts. Eventually through persistence on my part, I was diagnosed w/ bipolar. I found a good psychiatrist who put me on Lamital, ramping me up from 25mg to 150mg over several weeks. I love this drug (so far), as I feel like me again for the first in decades.

Three weeks ago, my doctor decided it was time to wean me off the Cymbalta since I was having such a good reaction to the Lamital. He prescribed a 60mg-30mg alternating schedule. It has been pure HELL. Brain shocks/zaps, sadness, weepiness, short temper, all the things mentioned here already.

While I will be seeing him again soon, I have decided to change the dose to 60mg - ~45mg by splitting one of the 30mg capsules and mixing it into applesauce. This is my first night doing this, but so far, it seems to be helping. I'm edgy, but not as bad as I have been. The brain zaps are almost non-existent. Last night, I found that I felt almost normal after I had had a hot shower, but a person can only take so many of those. :)

I am also so angry to not have been told upfront what the withdrawal was like. I experienced a similar thing with paxil, but ramping down was a lot easier and the withdrawal symptoms not nearly as bad.

If there is a way to stop Eli Lilly from continuing to market this drug without fully disclosing the withdrawal effects, I want to be part of it. I can't work, I can't focus, and I can barely get out of bed in the morning. I started going to bed really early just to escape the awful emotional and physical feelings.

I wish everyone here the best of luck w/ each of your experiences and may we all be free of this hell soon.

Its been 6 days off paxil and i still have these brain zaps i took 40mg for 3 years and i am going cold turkey because to taper off you are just going back to square 1 i hope these brain zaps go away soon good luck to everyone that has been tricked by their docs

It is nice to know that I am not alone. My husband thinks that I am faking the symptoms of moodiness, "brain zaps', sadness ,short tempered you name I feel it.

Thank you so much for having this information available! I was looking on the internet to see if anyone had the same symptoms I am experiencing and found what is called "brain shivers" when I looked up Paxil. I about cried with relief! I had been thinking that I had a brain tumor or something more serious. My husband thought I was going to have a stroke. "Brain Shivers" is exactly what I have been experiencing! And they are horrible!

I have been on Paxil 10 mg. for about one year. I recently missed three doses because I couldn't keep anything down (flu). I started getting these awful symptoms and they haven't gone away. Prior to starting Paxil I was on Prozac for 20 years. I started taking Prozac for depression and then found out it helped my migraines. I could regulate the Prozac but I never had this type of withdrawal symptoms. They are almost unbearable.

These terrible shock like brain waves along with feeling like I am in a fog and can't concentrate, I was very worried. How do you try to explain what you are feeling to a doctor? Last time I felt these symptoms (must have missed a dose or two) I was sent for an MRI and all kinds of heart tests. Everything came back normal. That's great, yet, nothing was found as to why feeling the way I was. I don't believe regular doctors- not mental health doctors, know what antidepressant withdrawals are about. I am going to print off information about brain shivers and take it to my doctor.

I am so relieved to read that I am not likely going to die even though I feel like it. I am now convinced that I am going to get off Paxil for good! Thanks again for the information.

I just took myself off Celexa over the last month, though I am still on Wellbutrin. On Tuesday I got extremely dizzy, nauseous sweating and felt like passing out. Now on Friday the nausea has passed but I still have the dizziness. I did not tell my doctor I was going to do this. Even with these symptoms it seems worth it because life seems so much clearer than a month ago.

What about non prescription alternatives for depression? Anyone tried any, and with success?

I'm not sure if this is a result of taking Cymbalta or something else. I have been on Cymbalta for about 2 yrs. for both depression and pain control.
I get "electric shocks" through my head. They only last a millisecond and are unpredictable as for frequency and intensity. I've spoken with three Dr.'s about this; two said they never heard of such a thing and the third, (a psychiatrist) said he has heard of it but has no idea what it is or what causes it.
HAS ANYONE EVER HAD SUCH AN EXPERIENCE? And what the heck causes it?


Hello! finally I know what this sensation is! I am on 30mg of citalopram a day. but I have been experiencing these 'brain shivers'. I didn't connect the two things.. but the shivers come when I miss a dose! The shivers happen all day periodically, and are generally mild but annoying. The worst happens when I'm drifting off to sleep.. I get an overpowering throbbing sound in my head that gets louder if I try to stay sleeping until I can't take it anymore and force myself to wake!

I've been on Cymbalta for 5 years, taking 60 mgs. I've gained a lot of weight and my Dr. told me that he's rather see me on Wellbutrin instead. I've been hospitalized 1x for 7 days the last time I tried to stop on my own cold turkey. I was a mess. I was throwing up, shaky, dizzy, had brain shivers, crying constantly..etc.

So, this time, he decided to lower my dose to 30 mgs of Cymbalta AND start adding 100mg of Wellbutrin. The first couple days I had brain shivers, but I got used to the 30 mgs of Cymbalta and 100mgs of Wellbutrin. I did this for 20 days..and 4 days ago, I went completely OFF cymbalta and only on 100mg of Wellbutrin.

I'm in hell. I had thoughts of suicide last night, was shaky, I couldn't sleep and when I did I woke up completely wet from sweating all night, my brain shivers are God the point where I don't want to drive..I cried this morning because I was out of coffee. I called My Dr. and he told me that I'll feel better soon. When?!?!? I feel like a looney toon and I need to be in a psychiatric ward getting treatment.

All I want is a Cymbalta to take these feelings away. I asked my Dr. if I could increase my Wellbutrin to 200mg and he told me not to until another 7 days. I'm SOO sick of feeling like this! I want to be normal. Feel normal.

I'm in tears realizing happily that I'm not going crazy! These "brain shivers" are terrible! I twitch in my head, like a low voltage of electricity is being uncontrollably streamed through my brain...mostly on my left side, behind my left eye. The dizziness, nausea, and straight-up anger and impatience are scary as well. I was a Zoloft patient. I took myself off slowly, because of all the side effects I had over thanksgiving when I skipped a few doses - uncontrollable crying, hip joint pain, fever, nausea, exhaustion,...I thought I was dying. I'm soooo angry! Everyone seems like, "oh goes on." I'm P.O'd!! Nobody told me about these side effects... Isn't anyone going to do something about all this?

After being on Paxil and then Effexor for about 10 years I am finally drug free. Unfortunately I have been having severe insomnia for three years which is slowly getting better but also have been suffering from brain shivers for over a year. I don't think this is something that is going to go away for me. I will try the omega 3 as I am willing to try anything to get rid of these zaps. I wish the medical community was better informed about this subject as I went months trying to find an answer. Doctors didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

I am on my 4th day of being off Effexor and the "brain shivers" and depression are driving me up the wall! My doctor gave me Wellbutrin instead and its doing nothing for me as far as I can tell. I only took 37.5mg of Effexor for one month and the brain shivers are uncontrollable.

I made an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow and will fight off the urge to scream at them for doing this to me. I am going to ask her for the Ativan, I see a lot of postings online that say it helps. If they wont give it to me I will try the Omega 3.

I cannot go through this right now, there are layoffs coming at my job and I have to fight to keep myself there and I don't have the strength to battle both stress and withdrawl at the same time.

THANK YOU! I am SO relieved to find out about brain shivers. I couldn't figure out what on earth was going on, until I finally googled my symptoms,and found a name for the "electric shock" feeling I was getting in my head.

THANK YOU! I am SO relieved to find out about brain shivers. I couldn't figure out what on earth was going on, until I finally googled my symptoms,and found a name for the "electric shock" feeling I was getting in my head.

I am currently trying to stop Pristiq. It's been almost five days since my last dose. I've been dealing with brain shivers/zaps, extreme fatigue, very vivid dreams, irritability, crying easily. I also think my pupils are really small. And this might be totally unrelated but I've been really hot. I thought I had a fever so I took my temperature but it is actually between 97.1 and 97.4. Granted my temperature is usually slightly lower than 98.6 which they say is normal for some people but it's never been in the 97's.

Anyway, like I said, could be totally unrelated but thought I would mention it. Fortunately I was able to make it through the work week but it was very difficult. I am sooo glad the weekend is here. At least I can just stay at home for the next two days and hope these symptoms get better. Does anyone know how long it will take??? I don't want to try to taper off.

I was only taking 50mg which is supposed to be the lowest dose. I won't bother asking my doctor. I already know he will tell me that I shouldn't stop it. Also, before I started taking it, I asked about withdrawal symptoms and he said that Pristiq wasn't supposed to have withdrawal symptoms like Effexor. Obviously he was wrong!


I'm so thrilled to see this, i thought there was something wrong with me. I'm on 75mg + 37.5mg, I have cut myself down to just taking the 75mg but even still when I miss a day I end up in bed all day with spins and those brain zaps, does anyone else get a kind of strange feeling in their tongue also???? I'm actually reluctant to try come off my effexor because it makes me feel so bad.

Thanks for everybodies suggestions.

I've been on ADs for almost 20 yrs and the absolute worst is Effexor! I used cocaine in my twenties and frankly continued to use because coming down was worse the the high! That is how I feel with Effexor...I stay on it only because the withdrawals are so bad.

So I was relieved to see a description of the feeling I was experiencing when missed a dose. It would at times get so bad that I'd be woken up from a dead sleep with a throbbing headache that could only be alleviated by sitting up and would return with a vengeance whenever I tried to lie down before the missed dose kicked in. There have also been times when I've told my husband that if I can't be awoken in morning to tell doctors I had a bad headache on left side of head behind by left eye!

Almost exactly the way someone earlier described! And don't get me started about the side affects -- weight gain, bruise easily, hair falling out, libido decrease (ha! more like none, zilch, nada and would actually stop dosage for one or two days so could be intimate!) and farting -- really!!

I will defined talk with my doctor about getting off this with or without her consent.

I am so sorry for the difficulty that many people experience when withdrawing from antidepressants, but I have to say that not everyone will experience these withdrawal effects. I have been on and off lexapro and celexa for 9 years MANY times with absolutely NO withdrawal effects whatsoever. I currently take St. Johns Wort for my mild depression. I just felt the need to put in the word that if you really need antidepressants, don't let the scare of withdrawal keep you from them. Some people do not have these withdrawal symptoms at all, and the benefits of the drug may offset the any negative withdrawal effects you may experience.

I was on Zoloft for 2 years for severe anxiety. I slowly stepped down to get off it and experienced these "brain shivers". I had no idea what was going on but I knew it was some kind of withdrawal from the drug. I just dealt with it and my symptoms gradually stopped after 6 months without the drug.

It was not fun but after a while they were tolerable. I ended up needing medication again after my second child was born and I was put on Lexapro. I am trying to get off and I am only taking 5 mg every 6 days. That's as far as I can go without a pill. After 6 days my brain shivers are out of control.

Doctors think I am being stupid and that since I am on such a low dose already I should to stop. But the brain shivers are much worse for me with this drug than the last one. And this time I also get headaches and mental fogginess. It is hard to take. I am hoping I can try to stop all together again and just cope with the symptoms for a while.

It sometimes takes a long time I guess before it will go away. I am sorry to anyone else going through this. Be strong. I do not regret taking the meds because they did help me. I just feel that this type of withdrawal NEEDS to be explained to people wanting to begin taking AD's. They may not want to deal with it.

To the person who said to buy omega 3: I was a little confused by your comment this was your comment:

"Heather | June 15, 2008 6:16 PM | Reply


Go to your local GNC or Whole Foods store and buy some Omega 3 fish oil capsules. I can't remember who makes the ones that worked the best, but it was Omega 3, and it was called EPA EXTRA. The important thing is to get an omega 3 with MORE THAN 500mg of EPA per dose. I took the EPA EXTRA with 800mg and the brain shivers went away almost immediately. They just recently came back, so I got some more, but in any case this stuff is great for lots of things--it just improves general brain function and should help ASAP. The stuff is kind of pricey for a vitamin supplement at 20-30 dollars a bottle, but SO, SO WORTH IT!!! Good luck, this stuff sucks but you'll be all right."

I was just a little confused about the part that you said you used you used 800mg and the brain shivers went away. Then you said they recently came back. Did they come back because you stopped taking the omega? I'm confused. I just want these things gone!!!

Wow. Thanks to everyone who's contributing here.
I decided not long ago to come off Pristiq @ 50Mg because I was sick of it not really working. I have only been getting brain shivers. I hope it'll go away before the end of November. Thanks heaps :D

Hi, I know it's been a year, since you wrote, hoping you are doing fine by now, but I have questions.

I was put on 10mg. of Lexapro for about a year, then another Doctor, bounced it up to 20mg. Which was too much. All together, on the meds for over 2 years. I gained 30lbs and my B/P was going up, so I talked to the Doctor, and we started to wean down. I guess I didn't wean long enough. It has been just short of 3 months, and I don't feel good.

The depression is back, I am nervous, my body feels like it is craving the medication, but how could it, soooo much time has passed??????? If you have any advice to help me, please write me back. I am about one step of going back on, but I really don't want too. I am walking a lot, taking the Fish Oil pills, resting as much as possible, I work from home. Thanks, and hoping your Holiday is a good one. Debbie

I've been on paxil for probably 10 years and the only problem I had was libido problems. My doctor said to try trazadone and since replacing paxil, I have noticed incredible dizziness. I can't even turn my head without feeling it. I already take an omega-3 fish oil tablet. I am going to make an appt. with my doctor and hope I don't have to turn back to paxil!

I love the antidepressant ads that say 95% of people get the right antidepressant the first time. I've never met one person who got it right the first time.

They shouldn't prescribed things that start with well we really don't how these work, but we're going to mess with your brain chemistry anyway.

I've tried many...Now Effexor already have brain chills.

Thank you everyone who has written here. Recently my insurance company said I had to order my drugs for 3 months at a time. While this was being processed (& my doctor not responding to the Insurance company's requests), I ran out of Lexapro. (prescription still has not been refilled) I had a few sample Pristiq. After the Pristiq was gone, I started with the crying for no apparent reason, electrical charges in my head. What an awful feeling! I thought I was having a stroke! You know how the imagination can take over! This was Christmas Eve! Christmas Day was terrible. Move my eyes, ZAP, turn my head, ZAP. I shouldn't have been driving...Couldn't concentrate, in a fog. Missed my exit...I was told one time to go off Lexapro very slowly but never told why. Now I know!! Christmas Day the sweats started. I took my temperature too to find it 97.7. I think I will try the Omega fish oil. This incident has scared me enough to go off of anti-depressants...Well, try anyway...I too hope this will be better after this weekend. I feel better just knowing that others have experienced the same thing!!!

My mom is 74 yrs old and was on Cymbalta for about 3 weeks. She was hallucinating so I asked her nurse (nursing home) to get the Dr. to get her off of it. She was taken off of it on Jan. 1st 2010. She had a stroke on Jan. 4th 2010. Could this brain zap be the cause of her stroke?

Pristiq withdrawals are so unbelievably horrible. I feel like I am literally going to die, I have been taking it for a year now. All I can do is lay down because anytime I move my head I get zaps and shocks that nearly knock me to the ground.

I can't stop crying and I never cry. The zaps are driving me CRAZY! It's been only 2 days now and I got prescribed xanax last night so I can hopefully sleep it out.

I take Cymbalta and for the last 9 months I've been getting brain zaps that are really bad the week before menstruation. Once menstruation begins the zaps go away.

The only other times I have experienced zaps are when I tapered off of Effexor in 2003 and if I ever take a dose of Cymbalta late (even if it's an hour late).

I have talked to many doctors about zaps relating to my menstrual cycle and no one has answers. It's really starting to mess with daily functioning.

Isn't it great that Eli Lily has no idea why brain zaps happen? All they care about is giving these terrible pills to people so they can make money.

I am a male 55 years old. I was on Pristiq for two months. I asked my Dr. for an antidepressant because of low energy, lost interest in things, irritability etc. Right away I started having prostate trouble. Found this to be a rare side effect of Pristiq. He switched me to Wellbutrin on Friday, and on Sunday night I started having the brain Zaps. At first I thought it was the Wellbutrin, until I found this site, and now I realize it is Pristiq withdrawal.

I was on Cymbalta for about six months, 4-5 years ago and remember having these brain zaps when I was taken off of it. If I remember correctly, they didn't persist for a very long time, so hopefully this shouldn't be too bad.

I have taken Pristiq for 6-9 months or so. I recently found out I am pregnant, so I have stopped them completely. I skipped a day, took one, skipped two days, and then decided not to take anymore so that I wouldn't be back-tracking.
The brain zaps are ridiculous. There should be a warning somewhere for this and all the other lovely symptoms of withdrawal.
I have been praying and meditating to get through this. I am glad that I am not alone in dealing with this. A verse of encouragement that has given me comfort and strength: "My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid." - John 14:27.
This experience has made a believer out of me. I'll never again let anyone talk me into taking a new drug. (God-willing, of course.) How depressed could I have been? If only I had known that this would happen. But I thank God for blessing me with another child.
I guess my biggest concerns are whether or not they will go away for good, and if these shivers or zaps are doing permanent damage.
Does anyone know of a non-medicinal method of easing the withdrawal effects?


I just stopped taking Pristiq a fews weeks ago. As others have said, there isn't much of an option to taper down. Like Audie (above), I too am pregnant and stopped taking the medication on the advice of my doctor. The brain zaps started a few days ago and are horrible! It has been 15 days since my last dose and I pray these side effects will stop soon.

I've been on Paxil for 2 years now & 4 days ago I started to get brain zaps. I started my period today & didn't associated the two. I was on Paxil 10 years ago and experienced brain zaps when I got off it so I know what they are. This is strange though since I haven't experienced them at all these last two years & haven't changed my prescription. I'm going to call my PCP & see if she has any ideas. I'm 46-could it be hormonal?


Hi, I have been on Zoloft for a year or more, recently though my doctor told me I could go off of it. I was taking 75mg and then 25mg and he said I shouldn't have any problems but I did "brain shivers" so I went back on it. Then I decided to slice the Zoloft in half for 3wks and I was fine for the first week. Now I am have brain shivers again for the second week. I can't imagine going on another drug like Prozac if this doesn't go away. I was taking it for panic attacks and have had only one so far since I have been off of it. Please tell me there is a light at the end of the tunnel?


Wow, thanks it does work how did you know to try it because its says it's good for the heart health? I take it at night b/c that is usually when its the worse and I take Omega 3 Fish Oil 1000mg so far so good!!!!

hi all,

I just wanted to re-iterate and re-emphasize on trying out OMEGA-3 fatty acid. You can buy them from target, albertson, or just about any super market. The one i bought is called "Nature Made" and they're 1200mg capsules. I take either one or two a day and the occurrences have gone down dramatically. Currently I might get these brain zaps once every week or two weeks - I honestly don't know because I haven't kept track of it. Whenever I do get it, it usually last anywhere between 5-10 min - not constantly throughout the 5-10min but on and off - usually when I turn my head. They usually go away before I know it. For all I know the OMEGA-3 could just be some placebo effect and my brain zaps are just going away naturally with time. But what I do know is that the occurrences are much less frequent and that's all I care about. Good luck to you all.

I feel so stupid - let my Celexa prescription run out and couldn't get in touch with my doc - I tried cutting back gradually to half dose to make the pills I had left last as long as possible. But when I ran out completely, the brain zaps, insomnia, shaking, sweating, pounding headaches started almost immediately. My refill has been sent in (I have to get it mail order).

I can't bear this for the 2 weeks I have to wait. I'm going to ask for an emergency refill. I will NEVER let myself run low again. I realize I'll have to be on this for the rest of my life. I don't think docs understand or care how awful withdrawal is. I cannot function, and I can't sleep which just makes it worse.

I was on Prozac for 2 years for OCD, found it really useful but it decimated my libido, so my doctor is trying me on Citalopram. Had never had brain zaps when missing a dose of Prozac, but I find if I miss more than three doses of Citalopram the brain zaps start. It's my own fault for letting myself run out but I work long hours and so can't always get to the doctors when I want to.

Was so relieved to see that brain zaps are a recognized phenomenon (amongst other patients, if not the medical community!) I don't feel angry about this as I read the leaflet when I first got the Citalopram and although it didn't specifically mention anything about brain shivers, the list of possible side effects there was enough of a hint... it is my responsibility that I decided it is worth it, to have my OCD under control.

I will definitely try the Omega 3, thanks so much for that idea, and I think the other thing to do is to ride it out, and try not to miss my doses! I was concerned to see a lot of people going cold turkey - I understand current advice here in the UK is that you should stay on your current dose until 6 months AFTER you last felt low. I am keen to come off the meds as soon as I can, but having gone against my doc's advice in missing doses, and now getting the zaps, I will be following the recommended course and doses until I have felt fine for long enough, and then very very slowly tapering the dose down.

Just wanted to clarify, my experience of brain zaps is like a jolt, a shiver, almost that feeling when you're in a meeting and you nod off for a split second then catch yourself falling. It can be as often as every twenty seconds, or sometimes I can go for a couple of hours without noticing one. I find that gentle activity (hanging out the washing, pottering) can really help to distract me. The more attention I pay to them, the more I notice them and become distressed. So I try to accept them calmly, and then distract myself. Good luck everyone...

I'm laughing, crying, and plain flabbergasted that it took me so long to find this site and put a name to these crazy symptoms. I am so happy to find this, read all your comments and know I'm not crazy or severely ill. Every one of your descriptions is right on target with what I am experiencing and I never made a connection to the Zoloft I am taking since my hysterectomy. I only have to skip one dose and the brain shivers begin. Thank you all for sharing.... While I don't feel great, I sure do feel better now! Will take all suggestions and determine a plan to at least reduce the dose of Zoloft I am on.

I thought I was getting sick the past few days -- I kept having these weird sensations in my head that I couldn't describe to anyone. Through searching, I found the term "brain zap" or "brain shiver" and I almost cried from relief -- it was exactly what I was experiencing.

I had been on Zoloft for about a year, at the lowest possible dose. I decided to go off of it because of weight gain (despite me eating healthy, exercising every day -- cardio and weight lighting) and the zombie-like feeling of not having any energy and being so tired all the time. I would almost fall asleep in meetings, even though I had a solid 8 hours the previous night. I just couldn't keep myself awake, and I was worried what my colleagues and bosses were thinking.

I tapered off slowly, under my doctor's orders. Now, I've been off it about a week and the brain zaps started up. Even though they are driving me crazy and making me sick and somewhat nauseated, I can't tell you how relieved I feel to know these symptoms are real. Let's just say that when you're on a psychiatric drug, some times you can doubt what you feel and others will, too.

I'm going to get some Omega 3 oil today to see if this helps. But I wanted to add my voice to the chorus here and tell any readers that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We all can get through this together.

And to anyone considering these drugs, please think it through and become fully informed. I wish I would have pursued other options for my anxiety other than zoloft -- such as therapy, meditation classes, etc. I don't know that going on the medicine this past year and the effects from going off of it have been worth it.

To respond to other posts... I too get numbness in my tongue when I miss a pill as well as the brain zaps. I recently have linked these zaps to occur around my period even when I have not missed a pill. Even though these negative symptoms are discouraging I realize it's only a small price to pay. Paxil has changed my life. Hang in there guys!!

So how long will the "zaps" go on for????? I stopped my citalopram, (yes I know, NEVER just stop taking meds!!!) I've been on so many different meds over the yrs. At one time taking Effexor, Zoloft and Seraquel.. been a long road... Down to just Citalopram now.

But, I wanted to get off ALL AD's.. I've had this feeling before when stopping Zoloft, different meds stopped the zaps.. Do I have to go back taking AD's??? Guess I'm going to have to. Has anyone done or taken anything to help stop them?? It is making me so sick, I'm scared to drive! There has to be something out there to help! It's either suffer with the zaps or go back on meds???? This sucks

I have been on and off Celexa for many years. Each time the withdraw is WORSE. In fact, This will be the last time I come off them because I will never go back on them again.

I will say this. I increased the amount of B-complex in my vitamin use as I tapered from my Celexa and it did help me not have the zooms/ brain shivers/ zaps... etc. as bad during the tapering process. BUT once I got to the DONE stage... about 3 days later they began in force. It is horrible trying to function to do normal things because the shivers make me so sick to my stomach (like you have a sick headache from being in the back seat of a car on a windy mountain road)..

It's just debilitating. I haven't tried the Omega things, but will be adding that to the vitamins I already take anyway.. so I hope that it will help. I have been having these for about a week and Am so ready for them to be done!!! And IRRITATED. I am completely irritated with everything... which isn't like me anyway. I do wish more information were out there for people being put on this stuff, and that more research was being made into what causes is and how to really TREAT it. Between the sick shiver feelings, and the eye twitch where my eyes bat back and fourth uncontrollably... I'm sick.

Just praying that it will all end soon..and I can go back to some sort of NORMAL..

Hey Mary,

I have been on Pristiq for 7 months now. I hope you can give me some feedback as I can see that this was posted in 2008. I have stopped taking Pristiq and the day of stopping I started getting brain shivers! Its been 3 days now and they are still constant.

Did you end up taking it?


Wow! Thank god I'm not alone. I quit taking cymbalta after almost 2 years and thought I did it correctly. I reduced my dosage from 60mg to 30mg for 60 days then 1 pill every other day for a week per my docs advice but it has still been a total nightmare!! These brain "shivers" are making me feel like a crazy woman. My doc said it was not likely to be from the cymbalta?? Until I read this forum I thought I was loosing it.

I feel like I have had a horrible flu for the past 8 days, brain shivers, nausea, headaches, stiff and weak everywhere, sweating, irritable, no energy and my favorite..... I have either gagged or thrown up everyday from the dizziness/nausea combo. I am looking forward to getting the omega oil to see if that reduces some of these symptoms. Thanks to all the people who had a story on this forum, I never plan to take anything without checking it out here FIRST!

I am so relieved that I am not alone in this. Sometimes when you are weaning and experiencing withdrawal symptoms you feel like you are crazy. The brain zaps or shivers are difficult to explain to someone who has never had them. The are real. Staying present and not fixating on them has been a challenge.

I have an EXCELLENT physician that worked with me to taper off slowly from Zoloft; however, I am still suffering from withdrawal symptoms and REFUSE to return to this or any other SSRI medication. And trust me folks, when all of this is over, I am going to become an expert and advocate for client and physician education about SSRI withdrawal syndrome. The makers of Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor, Cymbalta, etc.... all need to be aware of this painful side affect their medicine afflicts their patients.

They gave it to me after my hysterectomy due to the mood swings... seemed harmless enough. I was more than willing to go along with it, but my blind need to feel better coupled with my lack of research leads me to where I am today. I have a Masters in Psychology folks. I have seen patients with severe depression and anxiety and know that sometimes a pharmaceutical intervention is the best course of action coupled with therapy. But physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists have a professional obligation to have an honest discourse about this before, during and after this medication is prescribed.

Thank you all for your honesty and candor about your experiences. It gives me hope!

Take at least 3000mg of omega 3. You can't overdose on it. Liquid works the fastest from a health food store. Also, dramatically boost good fats, such as avocados, almonds & seeds. Do some surge training (run up & down stairs for 20 seconds and then rest for 20 seconds and do like 3 times. It's tricking your brain and somehow makes you feel better! Good luck!

I was on Zoloft years ago and if I missed a dose I would get a very weird feeling in my head along with nausea and flu-like symptoms. I could not wean off of the Zoloft, so about 4 years ago my doctor put me on Prozac and took me off Zolft. She told me that it was easier to come off of the Prozac.

I stopped taking the Prozac about 3 weeks ago and have been feeling fine. But the last 2 days have been hell with the brain shivers (now I know what they're called) and flu like symptoms and nausea. I am also having periods where my heat races. I am wondering how long this will last and also if I should maybe take a small dose of the Prozac to help this become a little easier. I have gone the 3 or so weeks and I don't want to turn back, but if it will help than maybe I should.

Does anyone know just how long this awful feeling can last?

I was on citalopram for 10 weeks and came off them cold turkey with some terrible withdrawal symptoms. I am still experiencing some brain shivers/funny sensations etc, although they are becoming further apart they are still distressing and leave me exhausted, has anyone else had withdrawal symptoms for this period of time, and how long they can last?

Thank you for a natural suggestion to minimize the shivers... they are making my life uncomfortable, to say the least.

Thank you for the suggestion of Omega 3 to help the brain/body shivers. I am having the worst time of it right now - to the point of tears. EVERY movement I am making is causing these disturbing shocks throughout my entire body. I will try the Omegas. This is the first suggestion for treatment that I've read so far and I've been looking for two days!

A very good book that tells how to get off many psychoactive medications is: The Road Back Program: How to get off Psychoactive Drugs Safely by James Harper & Jayson Austin N.C.'s. They do use their own formulations of Omega's, amino acids, etc. but using your own sources to purchase these is possible. Theirs have been specially formulated for ease of use and are competitively priced. The program is layed out very clearly in a detailed manner and they also will answer questions over the phone. You can Google it too at

This is an old post, but I see it is still going! I've been on many different anti-depressants and have always experienced the "brain shivers". My sister and I always called them surges. I think the hardest time I'm having with this is with Lamictal. I'm take a couple other kinds, but I'm pretty sure it's the Lamictal causing it. But if I forget a dose, I can't even move. I have the brain shivers and my eyes and ears are super sensitive to light and sound. I have to pretty much stay in a quiet dark room until the next dose kicks in! I hate it! And now it's getting to where it won't even be 24 hours and I will start feeling the withdrawals. Also my vision gets kind of fuzzy, it's hard to describe, kind of static like, like on a tv. I was wondering if anyone else experiences the sensitivity to light and sound and the static vision???

I don't know how most people feel about taking antidepressants. I have been on a variety of antidepressants for the past two years for depression and anxiety. My latest prescription is Pristiq 50 mg once a day. I have been on it for 6 months. At first, I did see a difference in my depression and anxiety, but things begin to change in the 7 month. I started having side effects from Pristiq. I haven't had a brain freeze yet, but I have had other symptoms.

I have had insomnia, headaches, GI upset, elevated cholesterol, blood pressure changes, joint/muscle pain, abnormal swelling all over, fatigue, easily agitated, ears ringing. From what I have read this is a hard medication to get off. I didn't realize that this medication was making me sick until I went online and started to look up my symptoms. I really don't know if I want to continue to take antidepressants if they are going to make me more physically sick.

Take my advice , WATCH OUT FOR PRISTIQ! I have taken Zoloft and Lexapro and experienced no side affects when stopping them but I stopped taking Pristiq about 5 days ago and I'm going crazy. I cannot turn my head or even move my eyes without having these terrible brain shocks, not to mention how short tempered I am because of this. I am definitely going to try the omega suggestion and am praying it will work!

wow, it's 12:48 am and I've already given up on trying to sleep so I decided to try to google my symptoms. I'm very relieved to have found this site. I stupidly let my Zoloft prescription run out and have to wait for a refill and it's been 4 days now. I've been having the slow brain or "brain shivers" feelings all day and I thought my car was making odd whooshing sounds but I came to the conclusion that it was in my ears or head. I feel very flu like and am tired but can't sleep. I usually sleep great!

After reading many of the previous comments I am feeling a bit better that it's just a fairly common withdrawal symptom and hopefully won't last too long. I definitely plan on taking omega 3 asap and hope it helps.... can't hurt, right? Thank you to whomever started this topic for it appears that you have done a great service to a large number of people. WE ARE NOT ALONE OUT HERE.....STAY STRONG. BTW I am on 150mg of Zoloft daily and have noticed that everybody else speaks of much lower doses.... I was recently considering asking the doctor to up it to 200mg. Any advice would be appreciated. (The Zoloft has been a life saver for me as long as I'm consistent with it)

I am having the same experience. I was prescribed cymbalta about three months ago and decided the new year was a great time to say goodbye to this. The only thing that cymbalta made me do was sweat a lot and make me aggressive. It has been seven days since I stopped cold turkey. I got the omega-3 and it has helped a lot but the shivers still occur sometimes. It's important to write down what each day has been like thus far so you can monitor how you're doing. Always keep the mentality that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I can't wait to get out of this bad tunnel.

So glad I found this site! I was on Paxil for 5 or more years and went off it cold turkey. Got the inexplicable brain zaps for a weeks afterward, then finally disappeared. I remember trying to explain to my wife the odd feeling I would have if I missed a dose. Thought I was done with them till... I am Embarrassed to say developed a NyQuil habit to help me sleep because of anxiety issues. Went off that cold turkey as well but unbelievably the same withdrawal symptoms as coming off the Paxil. It's been over three weeks now and still get the flashes, much worse than even coming off the Paxil. Gonna try the Omega 3 and get off artificial sweeteners which I read elsewhere may have an effect as well.

I have to say, I have tried many times to cut down on Paxil and get off it. I only went on it because a friend told me it helps you feel so much better. I was in a bad marriage so I thought I would try it. I was on it for almost 10 years. I was also put on so many different depression meds because the longer I took Paxil the more I seemed to get depressed, but was put back on Paxil as none of the others did anything for me either.

I can't afford to go to the Dr now as I no longer have insurance and they won't refill meds without seeing a Dr. So I have no choice but to go off cold turkey.
I went off it 3 days ago. I used to get the brain zaps after a missed dose of a few hours. This time however it has been 3 days and woke up with them this morning.
I started the Omega 3 today.

I have to say, Paxil MADE me depressed. I feel so good being off it. I have tried to kill myself about 20 times in the past few years, I cried all the time. I was miserable.

So, I hope you can find other ways to make yourself happy without drugs. I already feel normal again. I have a high in my life that I haven't had for a long time. I am sure only being off 3 days I may have a set back, but I know that with prayer and meditation and other activities I can feel good again.

Paxil can bring you down. You are not yourself and can't think right.

I am bookmarking this site and will return to post how it is going, as it seems most people do not return to let us know.

I have been on various antidepressants for over 11 years now, Aropax, Effexor, Lexapro and currently Zoloft. I tried cutting down the Effexor a few years ago, and had to go back up after a few days as I had such bad withdrawal symptoms, mainly dizziness and terrible brain zaps.

A week ago I finally decided enough is enough, and came off the Zoloft (200 mg a day) cold turkey. I figured if I'm going to suffer doing it gradually, I may as well get it over with quickly. I don't recommend this method to everyone, but it seems to be working for me. Most of the doctors I've seen just don't seem to have an understanding of the withdrawal, even using the step-down method can be horrible.

The omega 3 fish oil capsules have made an unbelievable difference. After suffering awful brain Zaps for four days, I am now taking a high dose of Double strength fish oil capsules, with an EPA of 360mg each, 5-6 capsules a day. After a day, the Zaps were greatly diminished, and after three days they have just about stopped completely. I haven't felt this good in a decade.

I would recommend the website "", which has lots of great advice about coming off antidepressants, and introduced me to the fish oil capsules. Good luck to you all.

Financial situation and mounting bills, age, etc., caused me to become depressed. I was prescribed the starter pack of 10 mg., 20mg, then finally to 40 mg. of the new anti-depressant Viibryd. Well, it seemed to help, but when I stayed on the 40 mgs., I was not feeling so great, but not physically ill. Thought I had a sinus infection and my ears were plugged up and I became dizzy. In fact I was not only dizzy, but felt like electricity was going through my brain and body.

If I swallowed I felt like I was going to faint. Had hallucinations of monsters. To make a long story short, I had all sorts of physical symptoms as well, namely, terrible diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, thinking about death, no ability to sleep, afraid to fall asleep because of nightmares, brain zaps, loss of concentration, sweating, feverish, extreme itching. Looked up symptoms. Symptoms were compatible with serotonin syndrome.

I quit taking viibryd four days ago. Am going to see doctor in 2 days. I do not ever, ever want to take an antidepressant again!!! I will tolerate the terrible emotional feelings of my terrible financial situation rather than the symptoms from viibryd! The brain zaps are still continuing, but at least the other symptoms are subsiding!!! I am just hoping these so-called brain zaps will eventually go away. They are affecting my ability to concentrate and still feel like I could faint!

I have the exact same situation-- a week before my period the brain zaps occur even though I'm still taking my medicine.

If I miss a dose, no matter what time of month, I have zaps by the morning time. More recently, I was put on Welbutrin and I've had the zaps much more frequently, even though I've been taking my medicine.

Anyone else had success with the Omega 3's?

I am coming off Pristiq right now. Was on 100 mg a day and my doctor pulled me off it cold turkey. I've only taken it for about 2 months, but I feel like I'm going crazy. I have the brain zaps so bad I can barely walk around my house. I'm terrified to drive. This is worse than anything I've ever been through, and that includes quitting smoking.

I have been on Cymbalta for about four years, Lexapro for about four years before that and Zoloft for two years prior to that. I tried weaning off the Lexapro four years ago with the same symptoms, the brain zaps! I feel so forced now to remain on the pills just to avoid the withdrawal symptoms now. It's ridiculous and makes me so angry. I hate having to feel forced to rely on something just to think straight.....

I tried 200 mg of Zoloft and I just felt plain weird. Maybe it's because I am a very tiny person, but that much was way too much for my body. I've been on 150 mg for a while now and I'm trying to come off it. Good luck and I hope you've gotten better! -Kristen

Thank you so much. I'm just reading this while experiencing "brain shivers" (I always described them as electric shocks) and have been desperate to figure out how to make them stop. I'll definitely try this and hope it helps. I am experiencing these brain shivers from Zoloft withdrawal. After gradually weening myself off of the drug, I felt them and continued medication. I stopped the meds even more gradually and felt fine for a while, and then they came back. They also, conveniently, come back every time I have even a sip of alcohol.

Again, thank you SO much!

I have an important question: what is the science behind brain shivers?? I mean, biologically what the hell is going on?

I, too, have experienced these "brain shivers" as they are called and for the passed five or so months had no idea how to describe them, what to search online (other than 'antidepressant withdrawal symptoms', which didn't connect the two in my search results), and was at a complete loss as to how I would put an end to them. I'm relieved to be able to put a name to it, know other people have experienced them, and that apparently Omega-3 seems to cure these short zaps (I called them shocks, for lack of a better word). But I want to know what is happening in my brain that is causing me to get these shocks, and how it relates to withdrawal.

I'm unsure if studies have been conducted on this and am thinking that they haven't because many of my doctors have said that withdrawal symptoms are minimal. My family doctor I had gone to for years actually told me that there was no problem stopping Zoloft (from 100mg), even if it was cold turkey. I have quite the email to send him, mostly so that he knows never to give that information to any of his future, present, or past patients again.

Can anyone answer this - what is happening biologically during antidepressant withdrawals that causes us to get these "brain shivers"???

OMG! I started taking 20 Celexa on January 6, 2012 - On February 10th they upped my dose to 40 mg, I wasn't on it long before I decided I didn't want to be on it at all so I lowered my dose back down to 20 mg. I took it for about 2 weeks and stopped and had horrible "brain zaps" like a bee was living in my head! So I started breaking the tablets in half AGAIN (down to 10mg) took the 10 mg for about a week and then went to every other day for a week.

The Brain zaps are driving me crazy and when you mention it to people they think you have lost your mind. Hell..... I feel like I am losing my mind! This stuff is terrible! I will never take another anti-depressant again knowing what I know now. If I go to bend over I am very lightheaded and the zaps are terrible. This is crazy, I WILL FOR SURE try the Omega 3 fish oil. Thanks for the suggestion, I'm sorry you are all feeling the same way, but also relieved that it is not just me.

I've been on Paxil for about five years now and was prescribed this medication by my doctor who didn't even think twice before handing me a prescription. Didn't even tell me anything about side effects. I have recently gotten off of Paxil. I weaned myself off of it, and it took me about a month to get off completely. I do have the "brain zaps," though they do not sound as debilitating as some others have posted. I noticed these zaps about a week ago, and they're still there. Thankfully, they don't keep me up at night, but I do get dizzy occasionally. I pray that they go away completely very soon. Glad I'm not alone. Very scary stuff!

Just an update to give hope to others. The zaps, in my case anyway, are only temporary and life goes back to 'normal'. It took about 6 weeks from completely weening off the drug.

I have been weaned off of Effexor and have been having horrible brain zaps. What has helped has been magnesium malate. The zaps are still there, just not as bad.

Whoa! These intense withdrawal symptoms are nearly unbearable. My entire body, from my brain to my toes tingles and I'm extremely sensitive to sound and light. I'm assuming these these strange tingling feelings are 'brain zaps' its like I'm holding onto an electric fence for a brief moment.

I thought I'd be the only one who feels this way! I am withdrawing badly after tapering down from 225mg of effexor daily and now dr has prescribed me Lamictol, which I'm looking forward to starting. I was taking both effexor and prozac together but have never had such an awful time switching meds. I've tried celexa, zoloft, prozax, effexor and wellbutrin. This withdrawal from Effexor is BY FAR the worst. Trying to function at work with elderly/dementia residents. I'm nervous, anhnno, mean and very irritated.

I was on Celexa for about nine months. While I was not having brain zaps from withdrawal, I was having "flipping" issues.

I work in a pharmacy as a technician at a hospital. So after being on Celexa for about six months, I noticed my brain was "flipping" directions. The pharmacist would ask me to do something, yet my brain was telling me to do the direct opposite, and even though I knew I hadn't done it right, I couldn't stop myself and make myself do it correctly. Or what else would happen was that I wouldn't even realize I had done it wrong until it was pointed out to me.

Now you can see how dangerous this would be working at a hospital with patients. My boss put me on administrative leave to get off the Celexa and I feel clear headed finally, but I almost lost my twenty year career over this.

Has anyone else dealt with this?

Mary. I was put on Pristiq almost a year ago. I got tired of taking them and I slowly started weaning myself off of them for about a month. As I'm typing this email my brain is shivering and zapping like nobody's business. When I tried to explain it to my doctor he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. In the meantime, I suffer like crazy.

As Ricky B. Has stated, I would like to add my experience with Zoloft. I started back in 1999 after being put on some heavy-duty pain meds, for compression fractures of my vertebra, (Morphine). At first I didn't realize it, but I had become chemically depressed. After talking with my doctors, and getting a referral, I started trying different AD medicines, and had problems adjusting to them until Zoloft came on the market. I progressed from 25mg doses of Zoloft, to a 200mg regiment a day. Over the years, (12 to be exact) I have worked hard to get back to a normal med-free, and pain free life.

I am now down to 5mg of Methadone a day, for pain, and 100mg a day for Zoloft. Nothing I read about Zoloft mentioned these feelings. I had experienced them before when I would miss taking a dose, but only attributed the feeling to that instance. I can only suggest taking it slow, (2 week periods) before stepping down another dose, let your mind, and body adjust. Just as I had to, when progressing up to 200mg. I can't say how long it will take to get out of your system, but I can let you know for sure in another two or three months. Meanwhile, I'm trying to exercise, going to the sauna and sweating it out best I can.

Most of all,.. Stay in contact with your doctor and let them know of your condition and progress.
Best to all... Spooky

I've been taking Effexor 150mg for about the past 3 months for general anxiety. Just two days ago, I went back to my doctor because of the awful sexual side effects that come with Effexor. He prescribed me Wellbutrin 150mg for a week and then begin 300mg. Through my last pills of Effexor I've been taking them about 30mins-3hours late and began experiencing these "brain shivers", they used to come up when I would be rushing somewhere or being active, especially when I'd look to my extreme right and left.

I've thought that it was just due to the fact that that's what these pills so to your head, screw you up, as if taking them later than usual actually all added up and gave me this symptom. But now having just taken my second Wellbutrin I noticed that these brain shivers have been increasing and they happen many times in just a minute. I feel them in my head but also through my body, especially my chest and even to my fingertips, as if they were like pulsations.

I'm guessing these are the brain shivers everyone is talking about, I'm just surprised my doc didn't taper me down the Effexor prior to taking Wellbutrin. He just told me to stop the Effexor and begin Wellbutrin the following morning. Does anyone know how long these last? Are these simply caused by withdrawal? I'm probably the most paranoid person here about this but everything medical just plain scares the shit out of me. Any replies are greatly appreciated:(

P: my doc is now on holiday until the 23rd, so no way to contact to know if I can just begin being tapered down and stop taking these dang pills and become my old self again and find new ways to alleviate anxiety/stress... I have to go through the next week with taking my 150mg dose of Wellbutrin..

I just stopped taking 200 mg zoloft cold turkey after 4 years and I have been having these brain shiver things about 100 times a day. They are driving me insane :( it is mostly in my head and sometimes all through my legs. It feels like I'm paralyzed for a second and I don't know hot to get these things to stop. -_- it sucks when I'm driving.

If you haven't seen the comments already, do try taking fish oil pills!!! I had the exact sane thing happen to me both when I tried stopping Zoloft cold turkey and when I tried tapering off. The brain shivers were horrible. I began taking fish oil pills which made them go away after the third or fourth day of taking them. Saved my sanity! Try it out.

I have the same thing EXACTLY. If I missed AD doses it happened, and now that I have been reducing the dose to get off the AD med, it's worse. One thing that I have determined is that my symptoms, while seemingly random, are actually almost directly related to my eyes and eye movement. If I turn my head to focus on an object I immediately get the "sensation" of these extremely brief and rapid events (exactly as you have described) but I have discovered that if I close my eyes they immediately stop! Open my eyes... start again. Close them, it stops!

My events are worse when I turn my head and look up... but if I close my eyes, even in this position (when the worst and most sustained events occur) it stops instantly! As soon as I open my eyes and they begin to focus on any object.. it starts again. Not sure if it's relevant to anyone else, but give it a try during your next event and see if it's the same for you. Maybe I'm not crazy after all... (also had a low grade "hum" in my left ear for MONTHS while on the AD med. WOULD NOT GO AWAY. Almost drove me insane. Weaning off of AD med... "sound" is GONE. Thank GOD.)

The brain zaps are common when starting or stopping any SSRI (at least in my experience). I have been on 40mg of Viibryid since Nov 2011. It has been great except for the fact that, if I am even 1-2hrs late taking my daily dose, I itch like crazy.

I have been on Pristiq 50 for 4 - 5 months and recently upped it to 100mgs, I discovered I had become dependent on it so I pulled off cold turkey on monday... it's not thursday and this week has been HELL! Brain zaps galore, move my eyes ZAP walk around ZAPPITY ZAP ZAP, turn my head ZAP! Awful awful awful!

Please consider if you REALLY need this drug, the after effects are just awful :(

I have heard the zaps last a week or two, which is amazing (read: sarcasm) as I am in my final semester of university :(

I had been on Citalopram for over 2 years for OCD and excessive rage, I have to say it was like a magic pill for me, I had a rather weird first 48 hours when I experienced MDMA like effects, yawns, sweats, nausea, blurred vision and slight euphoric heady feeling... not a nice feeling but bearable for 48hours. This medication kept me on this planet and my marriage safe but now I do not have the people in my life causing me to obsess and get angry I wanted to stop and get my libido back, as sadly Citlaopram for me completely killed my sex drive.

I dropped from 30mg a day down to 20 , then 10 after a week on the first drop and now I'm not taking any 2 weeks later. The side effects of what I call the "Buzzes and heebee jee bees" have been really bad I get repeated buzzes sometimes 5/6 after another in bouts 3/4 times a day, I also have constant ringing/tinnitus and after not really having any emotion for 2 years I now have buckets loads that show up for no reason, especially tears.

Still no sex drive though and I'm also having weird thoughts and skin crawling too, generally not very nice but I'm telling myself it's the withdrawal and sticking it out, I will definitely try omega 3 oil and report back as I have read these symptoms may last for months as I was on Citalopram for a fair while.

I am still really happy in myself and my hubby is on wife watch to ensure I do not drop back into mania (I am a manic depressive) and he has promised to tell me when I'm showing any of my old behaviours, I do think Valium would help but I do not need to be addicted to something else instead. I am still hoping to be back to my old self by Christmas and not back on Citalopram, although I would not have a seconds thought about returning to using it as I had read the enclosed leaflet re side effects and was prepared for a lot worse than I experienced.
Good luck everyone keep chatting.

So strange as the brain zaps aren't like zaps at all for me. I'm definitely getting them but for me they feel like tiny fainting or dizzy spells that last for a few seconds, make my body feel weak, my heart flutter and my stomach queasy. It seems to happen more when I turn my head, even slightly. It got so bad and so frequent that I told my husband I think there's something wrong with my brain, like a tumour and that I need an MRI air brain scan. It's been a couple if weeks and if anything seem to be getting worse and not tapering off. I went cold turkey on lexapro and this happened to me. I had only been on it a couple of months and at low dose.

Bc I am so relieved I read your post, I am having the exact same feelings and it won't go away. I get dizzy and it seems to go down after a while but until then my stomach feels queasy - great word for it - and I try my hardest not to puke because I've already puked my lungs out. Once it eventually goes away and I feel like I can get up, it comes back. Acid reflux doesn't help at all and I'm scared just to burp or cough too hard.

I went to my family dr. on July 8 complaining about severe fatigue and I told her I think it might be from my antidepressant Pristiq (I took it at night time which she told me to), so what she told me was to STOP TAKING IT and there would be no withdrawal as long as I continue to take my other antidepressant, Wellbutrin (in the morning) and I should take two pills instead of 1, and to follow up in 2 weeks. I thought about this and it did not make sense to me, that even if I am taking twice the dose of wellbutrin I will still go through withdrawal because they're different pills that do different things because they have different chemicals in them.

So I tried whatever I could to stop feeling tired all the time (Going to bed early and eating well, staying active) but the fatigue just got worse. So I went back to my family doctor to ask for a note to give my work saying I need a week off to figure this out and I had to BEG my doctor because she was pissed that I didn't do what she told me to and she felt 'ashamed' to write me a note, and she told me to stop taking Pristiq that night and I will NOT GO THROUGH WITHDRAWAL (I'm using caps to show my anger toward my doctor and to emphasize that she was very persistent and clear about this).

So over the past 14 days I've had the bugs crawling all over me sensation, irritability, dizziness, anxiety, depression, a few minutes of suicidal thoughts but it went away, horrible brain zaps, nausea, disconnection/confusion and bad vertigo. A good way to describe the vertigo is feeling like I am spinning and very dizziness, and then there's feeling like I have googly eyes, anytime I move my eyes they seem to bounce and move involuntarily after, and I felt like a bobblebead by the way my head would go up and down, like a motion sickness feeling or seasick feeling. I can not wait to stop feeling like I'm in hell and when my doctor is back from vacation sk I can tell her how wonderful this is.

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