I'm just wondering the side effect called brain zaps what do I envision with that? I'm starting this medication tonight for the first time so I'm kind of wondering what I'm in for here. Thanks, Mieke
Viibryd - What are brain zaps?
Question posted by miekevson on 29 Aug 2012
Last updated on 22 October 2020 by KKESTES
I consider myself an “expert” at taking Viibryd as I have been on it for too many years to count (probably 7-8 years now). It was brand new when i started taking it. It is a very dangerous and potent medicine. It took about 9 months of horrible turmoil to get my drugs balanced right as Zoloft, Lexapro etc just didn’t work for many anymore. I was on a plan at first to get up to 40mg. Once on 40mg, I nearly died of seratonin poisoning as my doctor told me i should’ve called an ambulance at the time but I didnt know what was happening. I can only explain it as walking around in a constant dreamlike state. I would take a bath, get out, and a few minutes later think to myself “did I really just take that bath or did I dream it”. I was itchy, I couldnt stay awake and when I would fall asleep, it was so deep it felt like what I would imagine a coma to feel like. I would wake up sweating, but cold and not knowing where I was.
One minute I would be in a vegitative state and the next i was on full alert, easily angered and ready to pounce and cry and scream. It was horrible. My doctor immediately called me back and told me to split the pills in half... and after a short while we stuck to 20 mg and introduced 150mg of Wellbutrin and after a few years upped the Wellbutrin to 300mg. Its pretty perfect now. I feel like myself. Now on to the weird “zaps” and sleep paralysis that comes with this Viibryd. I can say that it will happen to you most assuredly. But the good news is that they will dwindle from happening a couple times a week to now it happens maybe twice a year. Completely fine because I love what the medicine does for me. I will tell you this too! Take your medicine like clockwork!!! I take mine between 8-10pm every night. Now... The zaps and the paralysis, when they happen will happen together on the same night and they would always happen to me when i was EXHAUSTED. Like if I hadn’t slept well in several days. It had nothing to do with missing my dose because I DONT MISS MY DOSE! Let me tell you why... This medicine is so powerful for me that the few times I had forgotten to take it and dozed off at night, it will wake me up within a few hours because thats how awful you will feel. You feel almost hungover... dizzy, itchy, and very sleepy and you almost dont want to move so sleepy. Getting back to the zaps... they would happen when i was wide awake but getting close to dozing off and it sounds like a large bumble bee buzzing by your ear really quick.. BUUZZZZZ! And the feeling in your head is like a hard vibration... all over your head and it happens real quick with the buzz sound. And I would say to my husband “oh no! Im gonna have the dreams tonight!” Meaning the sleep paralysis. Those at first were pretty horrifying. You are asleep but you arent because you know exactly what is hapoening around you real time (if the tv is playing its on the show thats actually playing and the people in the room are there)... you can see it through the slits in your eyes that are barely open. And you have this eerie feeling that something or someone is in the room with you that is sinister (I know it sounds made up) for me they were always hunched down next to me by my side of the bed. Sometimes I could hear it whispering incoherent things in my ear. And you cant move!!! You cant talk or scream. You cant reach for your spouse who you see lying right next to you. Sometimes it felt like it was crushing me and I couldnt breath! But I had learned through the years to relax and think “its not happening wake up wake up wake up” and I would wake up. The problem was when you wake up and them each time doze off right back where you were again. But something about it you are sooo exhausted you cant get up and walk it off. And when you do wake up you are terrified like there IS someone in the house. This rarely happens anymore. I try not to let myself get that exhausted. But for all the bad it sounds like the medicine is worth it to me.
I've been taking Viibryd for several years after trying probably five or six other SSRIs. Viibryd worked the best and pretty much knocked out the "dark cloud." The "brain zaps" only occur with me when I miss a dose, and they're not a pleasant sensation. You feel a shock to the brain; I don't know how else to describe it. the good thing is I just take half a tablet and they go away quickly. And I never get them when I don't miss my dose--which I take every morning, btw. I take 40mgs. Great drug; very few side effects. Definitely a more advanced SSRI, but a more recent one as well, so it stands to reason its improved on earlier models.
I have experienced brain zaps with every anti-depressant I have been on; Effexor, Wellbutrin, citalopram, and Viibryd. However, mine are different than what most people describe online. Mine do not occur when I'm falling asleep but rather when I'm seemingly in a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Also, I do get them even when I take my dosage exactly as described although they are more common if I miss a dose or take it later than my normal routine. Many people on the various forums are very persistent in claiming they only happen in withdrawal but I absolutely get them as a side effect. They are very alarming and the first time I had one, I thought it was the sensation of dying; like my brain was shutting down. Maybe because the first time the sound was similar to the very last sound a computer makes before it powers off. That zzzzttt sound.
(Not a reassuring feeling) Generally, I do not have a sound with it, if there is a sound it's just a small electric sound or sometimes a liquidy sound in the center of my head. They only last a few seconds but then I struggle to awaken sort of even though it startled me awake. It's hard to describe how that can be. I have had them on occasion from 2009-to present. I googled it extensively and never was able to find out what it was and doctors looked at me like I was insane. It has only been since I started Viibryd in 2017 that I finally saw a forum online that called them brain zaps and I realized that's what other people call them. The things I most often called it to try and google it were "the sensation of dying in your sleep", "the sensation of being electrocuted in your sleep" and "the sensation of your brain being fried". All pretty terrifying when you don't know why it happens. Thankfully, I generally only get them on occasion and not consistently so they don't keep me from sleep too much but every time I get one, it feels like I'm struggling to come back from something and I feel certain that if I lose the struggle, I'm dead. So generally, I'm then awake for a bit contemplating death and life and a complete existential crisis. Not very fun. Even now that I have something to call it and it seems fairly common, I think more research would be nice and particularly, it'd be nice if doctors actually knew about them as a side effect so patients didn't have to resort to google. Everything I've read claims they are harmless but since doctors barely know about them, I don't think they really know the long term affect they may have. I've never seen any report of anyone studying it or looking further into it. I do feel much better on antidepressants and Viibryd has been the most helpful yet so I keep taking it but it'd be great if there were a med that didn't cause brain zaps.
So I want to clear some things up. As for the brain zaps you all refer to, it's actually known as exploding head syndrome. Google it, there's actually a lot on the internet about it. Everything you're all describing sounds exactly like it. I didn't have it until I started taking viibryd. It scared me at first but I would eventually get used to it and now it's commonplace for me. What it technically is is parts of your brain that deal with sound shutting down much quicker than the other parts of your brain as you're tired, falling asleep, etc. This causes the zap like feeling you all describe. It's personally always random for me though, sometimes it literally sounds like an atomic bomb in my head and other times, like tonight, it sounded like jets swooshing over head. It can also accompany the nightmares. I've been taking viibryd for two years now and the worst it is is when I'm stressed or super exhausted.
As far as the nightmares it only happens for me whenever I've forgotten a dose, like tonight. I'm currently waiting for the dose I just took to kick in because I can't sleep until it does. No exaggerating, I must have fallen asleep 50 times in the last hour and every time a nightmare began extremely quickly and I would pull myself out of it. It's then I realized that I didn't take my viibryd as this has happened before and I can see the signs. So like I said, exploding head syndrome, google it.
I experienced the brain zaps once I reached my 40mg dosage. NOT FROM Withdrawal. The zaps were so strong my body would jerk in my sleep. I could feel them but was unable to respond to my daughter while she was asking if I was ok as she watched my body jerk next to her. I thought I was having a seizure. This happened twice, after that I stopped this medication.
I get the feeling if I didn't take it and only when I am getting tired and starting to fall asleep. Sometimes they come in waves of 3. The first time I got it, I figured out it was that I missed the dose that night at the beginning.( and it scared the hoohah out of me ) While it shouldn't be, it does set my alarm in my body that I missed the dose and I got take it and within 15 mins I can fall asleep. Its not ideal, but the results I have seen on the depression are worth more to me. I fear if I ever want to get off this stuff whats going to happen, but I can't worry about that for now. Ive only been on it for 45 days and haven't really seen my Doctor since it happened. two more weeks. I also have avoided going to these sites and reading the Internet for fear of too much info. Which is now happening!! lol. Thanks all. And hope you have a HAPPY day! lol.
What causes rapid feeling like explosion or a puff in my ears I have mild Tinnitus I am coming off sertraline tablets at present since October . I have been on these tablets for three years My head
also experiences this at times.It is like a quick air feeling comes twice rapid then goes away and
comes back at different times.what is the cause of this I have explained this as.best I can
I only have brain zaps if I forget to take Vibryyd. The first time it happened I was going to sleep and it sounded like a large bug was flying into my face. After I realized what was happening I can describe it like this : It is a loud sound in your ears that lasts just a millisecond. You're whole body will tense up for that millisecond and it is scary. Just take your medicine on time every day and you will be okay.
Omg, I've told two different doctors bout the "brain zaps". I was calling them " shocks" because that's what it felt like to me. I'm bi-polar and I'm on 80mg, which I feel is a little too high of a dose but I was a major downer bi -polar. The brain zaps started a couple months after I started taking it. It makes me nauseous if I take it without food so I take it at night after dinner. I've never missed a does and I've never changed my dose. One night laying in bed trying to go to sleep I felt a little funny and then ZAP! Lasted 1-2 seconds then went away. I had them several times each night I was laying down or watching TV right before getting into bed. I was scared out of my mind. I tried talking to my husband and he thought I was just over stressed and over tired. I knew this was something else. I love the medication. I feel amazing on it. Now I'm starting to get diarrhea and dry mouth that I cannot get rid of.
As much as I hate to... I might ask to be tapered down and put on something else. I'm excited that I found this forum and can show my doctors that I'm not crazy... but I'm more worried about what the brain zaps really are. I hope thus helps some people.
Does anyone know if these brain zaps cause damage? My "zaps" feel more like an area of my brain momentarily fall asleep. it feels numb. Also sometimes I feel like I have water in my ears when there is no possible way that is true. I feel unbalanced for a minute or so and pressure in my head. I am not sure if these are side effects or if I take a dose later than normal. I need to start documenting so I can know for sure. I am just freaked out by these things. Thanks in advance for comments or experiences!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for me, I had brain zaps while taking Paxil, and then later while taking Celexa. While they were worse upon the cessation of the aforementioned drugs, I had them while taking the drugs. Later in life I had to take a narcotic based pain medication and I experienced the zaps upon the cessation of those drugs as well. As far as the SSRI's, I still require an antidepressant, so I switched to Elavil, 25mgs in the morning and 50mgs in the evening and for me it works wonders! I have far greater success in managing my anxiety then when I was on SSRI's. The SSRI's also worsened my anxiety issues and I had far more panic attacks with the SSRI's compared to the Elavil. It's been years since I was on SSRI's, & the brain zaps were literally debilitating. I still get them sometimes, and they're still debilitating. It's as if there is electricity bouncing around my skull.
It actually hurts sometimes. Other times, I cannot perform any activity until they quiet down. One VERY IMPORTANT thing I found out, at least for me, and quite by accident is that the zaps are worse the higher my blood pressure is. When the zaps were at their worse, I took Clonidine, a short acting BP medicine. Later on, I had to go on a blood pressure medicine for medical reasons. My doctor prescribed Lisinopril which I take once a day @ 20mgs. That solved my brain zap problem, but I know immediately if I ever forget to take my BP medicine as the zaps, although not as strong, return. If your getting off of SSRI's, if recommend asking your doctor about Clonidine for short term use to get you past the worst of it. Hope this helps!
Just came across this forum and I'm glad I did. I've been on viibryd for over a month now and I can't handle the side effects any longer, I'm going off it. It did work great to relieve my depression symptoms, but the side effects have now increased my depression and anxiety. The brain zaps are bad, actually I feel it through my body, jerks me awake. After reading the other posts, I realize I'm the only one here that the sensations go further than the zaps. Hard to explain, after the zaps, there is like a "smothering feeling" that I just have to force myself awake, to get this feeling off of me. I feel like I'm sitting up calling for help, or maybe I'm really doing it, I don't know, sort of an out of body feeling, never, never happen before and I've been on many different types of depression and anxiety. medications for almost 20 yrs now.
Also, after I take it and before I go to bed, I feel the head pressures and dizziness. I take it everyday and the same time, I've tried without food or with food, nothing helps. Sometimes I don't even sleep through the night. I wake up angry, frustrated, and fatigued. Not a good way to start the day and I've been grumpy all day because of this. My family can't stand to be around me. Time to start over with something else, hate that transition.
I am so glad to find this forum. I have been taking Viibryd for 4 weeks now. I have worked up to the 40 mg. The only side effect I have had is the "brain zaps". I tried describing them to my husband... the only way I could is by relating it to the feeling you get in your ears when you yawn really deep (kind of an echo-y sensation) times 100. It hits me when I am laying down ready to fall asleep. Sometimes it just a wave starting between my ears going down my arms, other times it actually shakes my body (I almost dropped my cell phone with the last one). As for the other side effects I have had none of them. My sex drive hasn't decreased, I haven't had any of the nightmares or sleeplessness. It has greatly improved my depression, I have an appointment with my doctor next week and will discuss these brain zaps. I think as long as the zaps are my only side effect I will most likely continue taking it. I just want to make sure that they aren't precursors to seizures or anything else.
I have been taking Viibryd for several months now, at 20 mg dosage (never went up to 40 mg). I only experience the brain zaps when I am falling asleep, and in my case it seems related to missing a dose, or not taking it at the same time each day. My experience is similar to what others have described. As I'm drifting off, the ringing in my ears (I have chronic tinnitus) grows louder, and just as I start to lose consciousness, in an instant the ringing goes thru the roof and I feel like my brain gets a huge electric shock that makes me literally jump in bed. In addition to the nighttime zaps I usually also get a dizzy/out-of-it feeling during the daytime; my ears ring loudly and I experience a lot of "drop-outs" where it feels like I lose consciousness for a split second. I've never experienced the zaps during the daytime, that would be very scary.
Overall I find this experience very uncomfortable but I've been putting up with it as it doesn't happen every day. However, after reading about this on the web, I think I will discuss this again with my doctor (the first time he didn't seem to have heard of this before). I'm worried what would happen if I ran out of Viibryd for some reason beyond my control (I live in California and if we had a big earthquake, I could be without meds for a while). I'd rather not have to worry about that...
I can tell you first hand what a brain zap is because I got them when I took Viibryd. It did not happen if I missed a dose or as a withdrawal symptom, as some have suggested. It was a side effect that happened randomly while I was taking this medication.
It happened when I was laying down. I would feel dizzy and then it would feel like a small electric shock in my head. It made me jump. It did not hurts but made me feel very uncomfortable and uneasy about laying down.
I am getting off Viibryd now because there are too many side effects and I am not OK with the "brain zaps." The withdrawal, even though I've been slowly getting off it for two weeks now, has been uncomfortable. I stopped taking it completely two days ago and have since been dizzy throughout my entire day.
I've been on a number of anti-depressants and this one is by far the worst. I'm going back to Wellbutrin now which has worked the best for me so far.
Good luck to others who are trying viibryd. However, I would NOT recommend it to anyone.
- Viibryd uses and safety info
- Viibryd prescribing info & package insert (for Health Professionals)
- Side effects of Viibryd (detailed)
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