Stopping “brain zaps” from SSRI withdrawal

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So I’ve been on Escitalopram for about 4 years. 20mg daily. The last 2 weeks I’ve been trying to ween myself off them by first splitting 20mg into 10mg daily, then down to 5mg.

If I dont have any in my system for about 24 hours, I start to get “brain zaps”. I have been trying to see if psilocybin mushroom microdosing (about 200mg) would help alleviate these, aswell as making a 1p lsd volumetric microdose solution at 5ug / 1ml. Testing the 1p today and yesterday at 1ml, seems to help with the zaps but not get rid of them.

It seems with both of these substances in microdose levels, they relieve the symptoms of anxiety, how ever brainzaps are still there just not as bad.

Was wondering if any of you have had these zaps, and if you did how did you deal with them? Or if you ever got off SSRIs, what helped you do this?

Just take more time top taper down. You should at least take 4 weeks. 15mg/10mg/5mg/2.5mg. The longer the better and the result will be fine.

Yeah for sure the best way to do it. I know that I sort of rushed the exit plan, not the smartest way for sure. However, I was hoping to find some other way that might work. I can always go to my doc and refill my prescription.

I don’t really want to recommend using other drugs to cope, but I’ve gotten off effexor at two different times in the past cold turkey, and both weed and various RCs stims helped significantly with brain zaps, anything from Hexen, bk-EBDP, 4f-mph, 4-emc, really most stims helped lessen it get rid of it. Also making sure your staying hydrated can help a good amount as well

This may not be helpful, but it really bothers me how apt doctors are to give people drugs that will cause withdrawls if on them longterm. Sure, everyone knows opiates are addictive, but other than that, doctors act like everything is risk free. SSRI’s, antipsychotics, gabaergics, benzos, etc… All hard as fuck to get off of. Not impossible, but if my doctor had told me how hard getting off of gabapentin would be, I probably wouldn’t have started taking it. I imagine some people might feel similarly about SSRI’s. But do doctors ever warn people that the SSRI’s may be hard to discontinue in the future if you choose to do so? Nope. All they say is, “it takes a minimum of 4 weeks to start being effective so make sure you try it for at least that long.”

Fucked up, imo.

It is fucked up, which is why we really need to improve healthcare within the US and the entire world.

I am a firm believer that mental health medications should be prescribed solely by a psychiatrist and even then we need to reevaluate what they’re taught as far as medication treatment.

Even then visiting a psychiatrist for depression is hindered by many countries healthcare systems due to cost or waiting periods.

We also need a complete revision on medical literature that puts an emphasis on the side effects from starting or ceasing treatment that doctors commonly refer to while looking up medications to prescribe.

It’s terrifying how uneducated some psychiatrists are about the medications they prescribe. Continuing education on new psychiatric medications should be mandatory. I had to bring in publications on SSRI discontinuation syndrome before my old doctor believed me about my symptoms, and luckily she actually read them and changed her tune.

It didn’t stop her from offering a totally new brand-name medication that she knew literally nothing about except that it was supposed to help depression.

Yeah I was never told about it, just take it at the same time every day, which I was young and naive at the time so I assumed that was just for the best results. I was terrible about taking at the same time or even everyday, and all those negative effects I thought were just me having a shitty day until getting into psychedelics and MDMA I started reading about those drugs which brought up antidepressants and I learned how much I was messing with the chemical balance in my head. Even a little heads up would have been beneficial. Happy to say I’ve been off ssri/snri for close to a year now, and feel much less depressed and less in a fog and like a zombie

Yes, Doctors shouldn’t prescribe drugs when they haven’t even read the basic prescriber information for them. My Doctor prescribed Remeron (Mirtazapine) and when I told him I was going to stop taking it because it was making me too sleepy, he said “No, we will just lower the dose from 15mg to 7.5”. So I pulled out the information that showed it was even more sedating at 7.5mg than at 15mg and scolded him for not understanding what he was prescribing. I don’t expect him to be a walking encyclopedia of drug information but he should at least read up on it before he prescribes it.

Yes, I can believe that but there were other problems as well. I was gaining weight at an alarming rate and while I do realise that is all in ones head, hunger triggers one of mans more primal instincts to eat. It was also causing sleep paralysis which is quite alarming as well as some pretty disturbing dreams, so disturbing in fact I really couldn’t figure out where my mind was finding that kind of very dark and disturbing source material. While none of these problems alone really justifies abandoning a possible solution, the sum total of all them combined was convincing enough to make it clear that this wasn’t a viable solution (for me).

Yes, I know the weight gain is very real. What I meant by it being in your head is that you aren’t really hungry all the time, you just “think” you are. The sleep paralysis is very alarming, when you are awoken by a noise (like your cell phone ringing), your brain is still disconnected from your muscles. It being disconnected like that is how it is suppose to be (so you don’t act out that bad nightmare in the form of movements) but unfortunately it stayed that way when I was taking Remeron after I would wake up so for a very terrifying 30 seconds to a minute I was completely paralyzed and can’t move a muscle. 30 seconds is a very long time when you are unexpectedly in that frightening state. One would think you could get used to this inconvenience but I never did. It definitely improves sleep, in fact I fell asleep while driving and was almost killed! How long have you been on it? The reason I ask is because I did some investigation into the withdrawal syndrome and that was the most alarming of all, it would be a very lengthy and involved effort to taper off it slowly. So I had to make a decision to stop taking it while I still could without consequences. I also think the breadth and depth of the dark material (and the intense darkness of it) my mind was coming up with for these nightmares could be very damaging in and of itself. Definitely wasn’t healthy to literally go to hell every night and understandably made me afraid to go to sleep for fear of what tonight’s nightmares would entail. I also have reservations about messing with the brain chemistry to that degree and hoping for a positive outcome. Most of these very undesirable side-effects weren’t even listed in the main list of side effects until one started digging around a little deeper. It wasn’t long after I discontinued Remeron I found something that worked 150% and has no side effects (at least none I have noticed) so it was very much the right decision (in my case).

I’ve been on it for over a year now, and it works pretty well for me. But my experience with anti depressants and most drugs is atypical.

I don’t get discontinuation effects for anything. I’ve cold turkeyed many anti depressants from max dosages that I’d been on for years and got no negative effects.

I can see why you would discontinue it with the symptoms you described though

From what I have read, it seems the current theory is that brain zaps are probably miniature, localized seizures. That said, I’m not sure anyone knows of a catch-all way to prevent them.

If you have access to low-dose benzos, that would probably help a lot. I imagine 1mg of etizolam every 4-6 hours would eliminate it entirely, but you might start with even less. If you can, get gabapentin or pregabalin.

If you can’t get any of these, look into phenibut.

Keep in mind all of the above recommended are addictive as hell.

Some people have had good results from taking low doses of 5-HTP (probably around 50-100mg 2-3x per day), as well as l-tryptophan, GABA and various other aminos.

Don’t start taking Etizolam PLEASE! The brain zaps only last a few days. Yes Etizolam will most definitely make you feel better, but the withdrawal will make everything ten times worse. Take a bit more time and be steady with the Escitalopram, I’ve been in your situation I know how shit it is.

I had a similar problem with venlafaxine (an SNRI), coming off a fairly high dose of 375mg. 375mg to 75mg was easy but 75mg to 0mg was difficult and resulted in various unpleasant symptoms including brain zaps.

The way I solved it was to taper down very slowly, using a milligram scale to measure doses towards the end. Right at the end I was going down in steps of 2mg at a time – and I could notice the difference when I dropped down even by that much.

In your situation I would continue taking Escitalopram at 5mg until you feel no withdrawal symptoms, then drop down to 4mg and stay there until you feel no withdrawal symptoms, then the same for 3mg -> 2mg -> 1mg -> 0. It will take time and will still involve some level of unpleasantness but I don’t see any better way of doing it. I think starting to take other substances to alleviate symptoms (without the advice of your doctor) is a poor idea – you don’t know what other side effects they will introduce that you will not be able to differentiate from the withdrawal symptoms.

I have been there many times before. Taper more slowly. Give yourself a whole 2 weeks on 5 mgs, then break it to 2.5 for another week or 2 if you can. Like just take a small little crumb of a pill.

Really that would really care of it 100%.

I agree with the other poster that A low dose, long acting benzodiazepine could help, like lorazepam. Avoid etizolam at all costs, especially a whole mg. That is just begging for problems. If you do go this route don’t go above a quarter mg and go as long as possible between doses, and take it on a full stomach.

When I chose to stop taking citalopram, I went down to half the dosage for a week, and then a fourth of the dosage for a week and then nothing. I definitely experienced brain zaps for the first couple days of each week, but I would have a friend come over when they got bad just in case I passed out or had a seizure which luckily never happened.

I think the main thing that helped me with the withdrawal was being able to smoke cannabis, but that doesn’t work for everyone.

Also after being off citalopram for a few weeks I tried smoking kanna (DON’T DO WHILE TAKING SSRI) and found that it gave me a similar effect but much more fast acting which was great for stressful occasions.

Brain zaps are most definitely a precursor to seizures for me. I am prone to them in general, they always felt like “brain sneezes” to me, and I’ll notice that they have often intensified progressively in succession before waking up somewhere public with some sweet EMTs bringing me up speed and back to the world. As long as it’s not a concrete-like surface where I’ve fallen out, and no nasty cut or concussion there’s no sense in getting potentially expensive follow-up tests/work after a potentially expensive ambulance ride. Zyprexa can be one hell of a medication to simply cease taking, but doctors never seem to warn anybody, and it’s fairly common. WDs can be hell, and seizures/zaps are on the menu

That’s Celexa right? That was the last SSRI I ever took and the brain zaps sucked. I was painting the second story of a house when one almost took me down. That was eight years ago and I haven’t taken and SSRI since. Though I have taken a lot of Tramadol and Tapentadol (SNRIs). I also megadose tianeptine (TCA-opioid agonist). I dunno how I’m gonna quit but me taking it hasn’t led to many negative. I’ve got tons of Kratom, benzos, Gabapentin and Lyrica for the eventual quit attempt. I’ve quit tia sodium before so I know it’s possible.

Ever been shocked by a small electronic? It’s kind of like that, but you feel it in your brain/spine and it doesn’t necessarily hurt. They seem to occur erratically and can last anywhere from a week to years. IME, I’ve noticed that the zaps seem to be correlated with stress-inducing experiences (both positive and negative). Hearing it described as a small, localized seizure sounds about right.

Hey mate.

Do you get these zaps as you’re laying down trying to fall asleep?

I suffer from brain zaps too. They’ve been occurring for over a decade now. For me, I believe the cause was from chronic abuse of MDMA when I was younger. I have never tried an SSRI.

I have tried so many things to get rid of these “zaps”; total abstinence from all drugs, taking many supplements, heavy exercise. None of them made the symptoms go away. Honestly, you do sorta get used to them after a while.

I hope you find a way to relieve the symptoms.

Extreme MDMA use will absolutely cause these. Sorry to hear you’ve had to deal with them so long.

I feel your pain. I’ve been stuck on Paxil for 6 years now. I’ve tried to come off it at least 3 times, one of those times I dropped by 10 MG per month until I got to 2 weeks into taking 10mg and I had to call it quits on quitting because I was beginning to feel too sick. My whole physical body is affected by withdrawal from the Paxil. It’s really fucked. Literally the only reason I continue taking it is because I don’t want to deal with coming off of it.

Honestly I would go to surviving and see they’re tapering schedule it’s safest. Go back on and just go reaaaalllllly slow. This will minimize all withdrawal.

I was on Prozac, tapered over two months, and had brain zaps horribly. L tryptophan took them away but 6 weeks or so after quitting the delayed withdrawal hit me horribly. I’ve been dealing with that recently and have had some of the worst hellish anxiety I’ve had.

I’m now back on and planning on going down at 10% a month or even slower. It’s just not worth it to go faster imo. I mainly quit cause it was hard to cum and cry and I felt just a little numb but it’s way better to feel that then the awful anxiety I have felt in the past couple weeks.

I’ve gone through lexapro withdrawal so many times that I’ve given up and accepted I’ll be on it forever. But if you insist on going off, you’re going to need some type of drug at some point. Every time I’ve gone off I have anyways

Pot will stop them and make the withdrawal painless, but only if you have a very low tolerance to pot. Highly recommended if you don’t smoke a lot currently because this is safe and won’t hurt you the least bit

LSd: I’ve been on 20mg for about 4 yrs now, and I notice when I do lsd I don’t feel like I need an antidepressant cuz my brain is being washed out and turned inward. If you think that sounds nuts — well it’s being on acid , and at present your being prob feels like it’s in a washing machine or covered in shrink wrap.

I have to note that I’ve never gone into ssri withdrawal with lsd alone. I always smoke lots of pot with to make sure there’s something calming around

The last thing that has stopped withdrawals are stimulants — addie , cocaine, crack , meth. But that’s because you’re brain doesn’t need ssris when it’s flooded with dopamine. And if you go this route clearly you’re just going to end up with a much worse withdrawal at the end and likely need to get back on the lexapro

I was on 10mg of citalopram for 3 years and decided to get off right well from the research that I found tappering off was the way to go. So I started in 2018 of may and every 4-6 weeks cut a piece of the pill off, until I was left with 1mg or close to it 11 months later aaannndddd jumped off and went through the ZAPS, explosive anger every part of my body is effected. It is now 7 weeks since my last dose and I am starting to notice less and less all the symptoms…fucking nightmare to say the least. Change your diet instead of taking TOXIC SSRI’S!!!

Its e extremely helpful. Dont expect to get off in 2 weeks what you’ve been doing g for 4 years and hope that hokicinahens will make the withdrawls go away. Do a less severe taper and I bet the “brain zaps” go away. Is that difficult to understand?

You kids today….if someone doesnt give you a fucking compliment and hold your hand while they walk you down the hall you kids dont stand a chance in life.

Teting to come up with a solution for a 2 week taper when been on for years is called anger taper to stop or minimize the withdrawl.

Your not doing him any favors man.

Ketamine kills the zaps for me for a few days. Also taking 5-htp receptor antagonists like doxepin helps. Avoid smoking weed, makes dem zaps more intense. Benzos and shrooms might make them worse as well

I quit Lexapro cold turkey and without cannabis, I would have lost my wig. Ended up smoking two oz in a month by myself. It was expensive, but I feel way better since I stopped using Lexapro. The brain zaps really messed with me at work as I couldn’t smoke during my shifts. But after a month or so they stopped

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