Head is the cephalic part of body and is highly vascularized. Head contains brain in a bony part called Cranium or Skull. Brain is the highly developed organ in human body and controls the daily functions and high order thinking.
Getting electric buzzing feeling in head also called a brain zaps, brain shakes, head zaps, brain shocks, brain shivers etc. is a momentary sensation of shock in head/brain that can spread to body as well. Getting electric buzzing feeling in head can be frustrating and can range from mild to severe. Getting electric buzzing feeling in head can have many causes which when addressed can be treated easily. Getting electric buzzing feeling in head can be treated based on the underlying cause.
For more details about brain shocks/shivers continue reading the article to relieve yourself of the unease.
Brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head is a feeling of brief electric jolts, tremor or vibrations in head. It can be accompanied by a high stress episode or an episode of anxiety.
Common causes of getting electric buzzing feeling in head:
Most common causes include:
- Side effects of medication: Reportedly while taking and during withdrawal of medications like anxiolytics (anti-anxiety) and anti-depressants symptoms of getting electric buzzing feeling in head or brain zaps can be seen. These medication include:
SSRIs (selective serotonin Reuptake inhibitors) include Sertraline, escitalopram and citalopram.
SNRIs (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Venlafaxine.
Benzodiazepines like clonazepam, diazepam etc.
Some other medications like hypnotics, amphetamines and other combinations of drugs can cause the condition.
The exact causes of why these brain zaps are caused by medications are unknown.
- Withdrawing of medication: A proper tapering schedule should be followed in order to avoid getting electric buzzing feeling in head.
There are several hypotheses that have been proposed:
- Low serotonin hypothesis: Fall in the levels of serotonin were thought to be the cause of anxiety or depression so patients were prescribed with antidepressant medications that were supposed to restore the chemical levels back to the normal state. But there were several issues with the theory as some people with low level of serotonin had no brain zaps and some other suffered from brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head as a side effect of these medications.
- Low GABA hypothesis: GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and calms down the nervous system of firing unnecessarily and excessively. Some conditions can cause a decrease in the levels of GABA like anxiety which is seen to trigger seizures, minor and localized and this localization can contribute to the brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head which are brief and minimal.
- Withdrawing of some psychotropic medication: Psychotropic medications are supposed to increase the levels of GABA. These medications include: SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRI (Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and benzodiazepines. Stopping the use of these medication can be a cause of getting electric buzzing feeling in head due to the low levels of GABA, an inhibitory hormone.
- Chronic stress or hyper stimulation: In addition to people who experience brain zap or getting electric buzzing feeling in head due to medication related issues, hyper stimulation or chronic stress can cause brain zaps. Chronic stress has deleterious effects on the body especially the nervous system, its neurotransmitters and neuronal functions. So chronic stress can lead to over excitation due to a neurotransmitter glutamate and cause minimal seizures including brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head.
- Cervical discopathy: The disc between the cervical vertebra (in the upper spine/neck region) can get worn out due to continuous exertion or mostly with age,C5-C6 is mostly seen to get involved and results in pain that can get radiated to the arms and is associated with the electric buzzing feeling in head.
- Tension type headache: Tension type headache is usually age related and involves the people of age above 40 years and is experienced due to exertion and mostly experienced in the evening after day of exhaustion. It usually feels like a tight band worn around the head and is pressurizing.
- Temporal vasculitis: It is an immunologic disease in which the arteries in the temporal area get inflamed and the age group seen to get involved is above 50 years of age. Associated symptoms are:
- Vision problems
- Pain in jaw
- Brain or spinal tumors: Tumors are the masses and can be benign or malignant and put pressure on the surrounding area tissues like muscles, nerves. So any tumor in brain or spinal cord can compress the nerves and result in getting electric buzzing feeling in head.
Some less common causes of getting electric buzzing feeling in head:
- Anxiety: Anxiety as a matter of fact in addition to its own known symptoms of tachycardia (heart palpitations), indigestion, tingling etc. can also result in getting electric buzzing feeling in head or brain shocks or shivers or brain zaps.
- Due to certain eye movements for some people who are in the process of stopping the medication
- Lack of sleep: This results in sleep deprivation related brain zaps. When there is a short duration sleep cortisol, also called as stress hormone is released which causes body to undergo stress and body under stress can experience brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head.
- Caffeine can produce stress in the body as a stimulant and as the stimulation increases so increases the chance of brain zaps.
Since anxiety is a reason of getting electric buzzing feeling in head, so all other symptoms that are associated with anxiety are related to brain zaps as well.
Numbness, tingling, chest pain, fatigue, heart palpitations and the very associated symptom of getting electric buzzing feeling in head or brain zaps.
Hypnic jerks: Hypnic jerks are as a result of transition from a wakefulness state to falling asleep and is a myoclonus- involuntary twitching in one or more muscles of the body. They can range from being unnoticeable to dramatically evident that causes a person to go into wakefulness again.
Other sensations related to hypnic jerks may include:
Tachypnea (high respiratory rate)
Sudden sweating/ flash
There’s no specific cause of hypnic jerks and can be a normal experience and can related to stimulation of body before sleeping.
How to get rid of getting electric buzzing feeling in head:
In order to get rid of brain zaps or getting buzzing feeling in head we need to get rid of the underlying cause by diagnosing them on time and help getting patient rid of brain zaps:
- Changing the medication: If medication is the issue behind getting electric buzzing feeling in head medications is to be changed. Although changing the medication is in itself a challenge and can have some side effects from some while but that will be tolerable and fewer.
- Completing the discontinuation and not stopping the drug all of a sudden: Stopping the drug all of a sudden without proper tapering can cause electric buzzing feeling in head and is called as discontinuation syndrome. Following a proper tapering schedule can subside the symptoms.
- Eliminating chronic stress: Ruling out the other symptoms and medication related issues the possible causes of brain zap can be attributed to chronic stress. So the goal is to eliminate the unhealthy stress.
A number of ways can be adopted to eliminate the stress:
- Regular exercises can play a vital role
- Regulating good sleep
- Healthy diet
- Taking frequent breaks
- Reducing work hours
- Adopting some relaxation and pleasuring activities
- Spending some time out in nature
- Treating anxiety with therapy: By treating the symptoms of anxiety can result in rebound symptoms and thus there is a need of proper therapy in order to address the underlying cause of anxiety that can be a cause of some stress. Stress is caused by the way we deal and think about things, so having a control over core reasons can help reducing symptoms of anxiety and prevent body from chronic stress, dysfunction and getting electric buzzing feeling in head. There are number of types of therapies like in person whoich is considered as a better form, teletherapy, electronic therapy are all effective as well.
- Diet correction/ including healthy diet: Stress normally eats up the nutrients in body in a faster manner than usual, this causes the nutrients to get run out in our body and if not made up soon can result in nutrient deficiency.
There are some foods which are found to increase some neurotransmitter levels like GABA can be increased by taking foods like yogurt. But too much of GABA can cause symptoms as equal to not taking enough so should be taken with caution when supplements are considered.
Best improvement has been seen through diet rather supplements.
When to consult a doctor?
Brain zaps or getting electric buzzing feeling in head is usually not dangerous but can cause panic in the patient and add into the underlying causes. It is better to consult your doctor if you want to discontinue your medication of anxiety or depression, and therapist when anxiety, stress or other symptoms are associated with it. Sometimes the person is frightened by thinking of it as a mental or medical problem, but it’s better to calm yourself down and see a GP (general practitioner) anytime soon if possible.
Brain zaps are sudden electric vibrations, jolts or buzzing in brain and can be felt in brain or whole of head and can be accompanied with symptoms before and after, like can feel it coming on or symptoms of nausea after getting electric buzzing feeling in head and can be accompanied during certain symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, burst of light, buzzing or pulsing in the ear. It is better to manage the medication and stress and avoid bodily damage due to chronic stress and uneasiness caused by getting electric buzzing feeling in head.