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Head Shocking And Zinging Feelings


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#1 wisher

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 02:45 PM

Ever since my narcolepsy symptoms began to present themselves more openly, they've been accompanied by these weird feelings in my head. This is one reason I was initially sent to a neurologist, who sent me for a brain MRI (which came back normal). I'm just wondering if they could be a symptom of narcolepsy. I've never successfully described them to anyone, and I've never met anyone with similar experiences. :(

The Shocks
It literally feels like a zap goes through my brain. It is usually on the left side, above my ear. Sometimes they are minor and only slightly annoying. Sometimes they are very strong and quite disorienting. Sometimes they hurt really bad, other times it's more like a tickle. Sometimes they come in waves, sometimes they come individually. They don't happen on any kind of regular basis, but they seem to occur more often and with more force when I am extra sleep deprived. The neurologist I was seeing kept trying to say it was migraines, no matter how much I told him that it was a quick, half-second pain, not a headache, and that pain killers have absolutely no effect.

The Zings
This happens only when I wake up in the morning (not all throughout the day, like the shocks). It seems to only happen if I am especially sleep deprived. My head feels like my brain is vibrating, like someone hit a tuning fork inside my brain. This continues for several seconds to several minutes, and usually happens off and on for an hour or two after I wake up. I've read that this might be happening due to the fact that I once took antidepressants (I was on Clonazepam for all of a week, when my neurologist told me I have dystonia). Is this correct?

Can anyone relate? Can anyone tell me what causes this? It drives me crazy.

#2 okami

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 03:59 PM

I'm not sure if this is the same thing you're talking about but I have a feeling I go through anytime I'm tired and driving. In fact, I use this feeling as a last indicator that I need to pull over and take a nap.

It's more centralized for me towards my forehead. I also have a very difficult time describing it. It doesn't feel like a zap or zing. It's more like I feel something travel down the front inside of my skull. Not painful really, just disturbing. I'm inclined to think this is a warning sign of a cataplexic attack or maybe sleep attack since one time it became bad enough that while I was driving, I slumped for about a second and swore I was 'asleep.' (don't know if I was really asleep but it seemed that way even though my eyes were open...this is different than the microsleep for me).

So I don't know if this helps you but when I'm tired and I'm driving, I feel something that travels from the top of my forehead to the top of my nose and I'm constantly lowering my head (another indication I think it's cataplexy).

sorry if I didn't help Posted Image

Ben

#3 ohiolor

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Posted 04 April 2011 - 10:42 PM

Hi Wisher....brain "zings" have been discussed here before. Take a look at this thread (it's from a few years ago)to see if it seems to match your experience. http://narcolepsynet...__fromsearch__1

There may be more past discussions... try using "zings" or "zaps" in the search function.

Hope this helps

Lorrie

#4 wisher

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 11:11 AM

Hi Wisher....brain "zings" have been discussed here before. Take a look at this thread (it's from a few years ago)to see if it seems to match your experience. http://narcolepsynet...__fromsearch__1

There may be more past discussions... try using "zings" or "zaps" in the search function.

Hope this helps

Lorrie



Thanks Lorrie! At first, that thread sounded exactly like what I am going through. But then the conversation seemed to shift into something else. They're talking about where various body parts "jerk" when you're falling asleep, and that's not at all what I'm talking about. In any case, I think I did get some confirmation that people have experienced what I experience, and it seems to be sort of related to sleep, which is what I guessed. Hmm.

#5 Big Dog

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 03:05 AM

Wow, I have experienced the exact same thing! I mean word for freakin word.. The MRIs, CAT Scans, all that other crap just to get the same shoulder shrug and the "you should feel fine". Oh how I hated that condecending usher out the door. "I had no idea doc, well if I should feel fine well then I'll jist start feelin fine...THANK YOU". Wow, that was a long time ago so I may have some issues there. Anyway, I've reread your post a couple times already, but the first time I read it I still felt one word ahead of you. I have no idea if this helps but I have those shockers only once or twice a year now, as a 39 year old male, and they were far more frequent during my 20's.

BD

#6 wisher

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 09:08 AM

Wow, I have experienced the exact same thing! I mean word for freakin word.. The MRIs, CAT Scans, all that other crap just to get the same shoulder shrug and the "you should feel fine". Oh how I hated that condecending usher out the door. "I had no idea doc, well if I should feel fine well then I'll jist start feelin fine...THANK YOU". Wow, that was a long time ago so I may have some issues there. Anyway, I've reread your post a couple times already, but the first time I read it I still felt one word ahead of you. I have no idea if this helps but I have those shockers only once or twice a year now, as a 39 year old male, and they were far more frequent during my 20's.

BD



Amazing. I've never met anyone who related so clearly to my experience with this. Interesting, and disappointing, that you've had them for so many years. I am guessing that we will never find out what they really are or what causes them. I have noticed that they tend to happen when I very much need sleep (especially when a sleep attack hits) and I am prevented from sleeping for some reason. Very odd. Thanks for replying and letting me know I'm not alone with this. :)

#7 Sleepingcrow

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 02:37 PM

Oh! The lightening bolts! I get those, although they shoot up the back right side of my neck into my skull. i never knew what the trigger was, it usually happened when I was having a good day and having a conversation. I haven't had one in well over a year or two.

I can't relate to the "Zinging" feelings, but I do get full body shivers that run up my entire spine - nothing to do with being cold. Again, it usually happens on a good day. Residual energy perhaps?

#8 Chuck Z.

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 10:50 PM

I've had those "head zaps" on and off for years. I have found that in fact, it's an effect from "cheese". Some medical circles call it the "cheese effect" which is triggered by eating dairy (cheese), red wine and other foods that cause your seritonin levels to spike. From what I can tell, the "zaps" are from your crash from the seriton. I've also seen some complain of this effect during withdrawal from certain SSRI meds. Hope this helps.

#9 wisher

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 09:17 AM

Oh! The lightening bolts! I get those, although they shoot up the back right side of my neck into my skull. i never knew what the trigger was, it usually happened when I was having a good day and having a conversation. I haven't had one in well over a year or two.

I can't relate to the "Zinging" feelings, but I do get full body shivers that run up my entire spine - nothing to do with being cold. Again, it usually happens on a good day. Residual energy perhaps?



The lightning bolts up your neck to your skull are most likely (from what I've read/researched) caused by a misalignment or issue with the spinal cord in your neck. My parents tried very hard to convince me that the shocks I feel are this kind of pain, because I was in a car accident and my neck was hurt for a while. However, mine is completely separate from the spine and neck. It is purely INSIDE my skull, like in my brain, and it doesn't travel, it just bursts out from one spot.

However, yours sound interesting, considering it happens when you're in a good mood. Dunno what to say about that. :)

#10 wisher

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 09:21 AM

I've had those "head zaps" on and off for years. I have found that in fact, it's an effect from "cheese". Some medical circles call it the "cheese effect" which is triggered by eating dairy (cheese), red wine and other foods that cause your seritonin levels to spike. From what I can tell, the "zaps" are from your crash from the seriton. I've also seen some complain of this effect during withdrawal from certain SSRI meds. Hope this helps.


What you're talking about sounds a lot like this: http://en.wikipedia....uation_syndrome
And it's not the same thing. In fact, all of my issues started after I'd been on a strict diet for several months. I wasn't drinking red wine and I was staying away from cheese/dairy as much as possible. And when they started, I had never taken any kind of antidepressant or anything. In fact, once I'd been seeing a neurologist for several months, he tried me on clonazepam, and it wasn't until after I quit that (only took it for 2-ish weeks) I DID start feeling some weird head zings... which are very different from the shocks I am trying to describe.

But you're saying it's caused by a drop in serotonin? That's interesting. I'm going to look more into that. Thanks.

#11 petitelinguiste

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 05:01 PM

The Shocks
It literally feels like a zap goes through my brain. It is usually on the left side, above my ear. Sometimes they are minor and only slightly annoying. Sometimes they are very strong and quite disorienting. Sometimes they hurt really bad, other times it's more like a tickle. Sometimes they come in waves, sometimes they come individually. They don't happen on any kind of regular basis, but they seem to occur more often and with more force when I am extra sleep deprived. The neurologist I was seeing kept trying to say it was migraines, no matter how much I told him that it was a quick, half-second pain, not a headache, and that pain killers have absolutely no effect.


Yay, so I'm not alone! I actually started having these last year.

Sometimes it will feel like there's a transient "crawling" feeling "on" my brain... perhaps, similar to your "tickle" description. Other times it the sensation occurs abruptly, and totally out of the blue. It literally feels like someone is violently stabbing me in the head with something electrically charged...or like I have a metal plate in my head that's being struck by lightening. The feeling only lasts for a second, perhaps half a second. Sometimes it can be so painful that I involuntarily grab onto my head and let out a shrill cry.

I was away from home when these began happening to me, and a good number happened while I happened to be video chatting with my then-boyfriend. My squeals would literally startle him, but once he registered that my "brain pain" was happening again he'd become really concerned. Apparently my immediate reaction to the "pain" looked just as bad as whatever he knew I had to be experiencing. Here I call it "pain", but it reality I would say it's an entirely different kind of sensation. Sometimes there will only be a single "zap" of "pain", sometimes accompanied by another.... but other times I'll get a single one, and a "shower" of them will follow shortly thereafter. Every time it happens I become extremely unsettled. I'll be on edge for no less than 30 minutes following the last "zap", bracing myself for any more that might follow.

I talked to my neurologist about this - rather disturbing - new symptom of mine, and he said that I could be experiencing something called "ice pick headaches".

Here's a link to About.com's description/explanation of ice pick headaches (also known as idiopathic stabbing headaches):
http://headaches.abo...a/ice_picks.htm

He said they are sometimes caused by overly tense muscles pinching a nerve in the area where your head connects to your neck. I told him that it happened more frequently/intensely when I didn't get enough sleep and/or was extremely stressed out. I was at a summer immersion program when mine began, and I was doing graduate level course work... so lots of painful all nighters.... :\ But he said this made sense, since the nerve was more likely to be bothered if my neck was supporting the weight of my head for more time than usual.

I haven't had one of these so-called "ice pick headaches" in awhile now. However, I have had some bizarre instances where my brain has a similar creepy-crawly feeling, and sometimes my neck/head will tingle. My current neurologist (the first was the one who diagnosed me with Narcolepsy, but the one I see now specializes in sleep disorders) said that it could be an aura, related to an impending migraine. I don't completely disbelieve that, because I occasionally see bright yellow or purple blobs of flashing light, or strange black and/or multicolored squiggles and shapes. But regardless of what is actually going on, it's always very scary for me... and I usually get myself worked up and thinking I'm going to have a stroke or something haha

I did a quick Google search, and this site in particular seems to have plenty of useful information regarding the different types headaches: http://health.usnews...health/headache.

You may also wish to research these types (their presentations seem relatively similar, but each are a bit different): trigeminal neuralgia, occipital neuralgia, and chronic paroxysmal hemicrania.

It appears that the hypothalamus is linked to a variety of different headaches. The hypothalamus also happens to be one of the major things associated with Narcolepsy. Perhaps there's a non-drug-related reason for our having experienced these "zaps".

By the way, do you by chance take Adderall? I currently take both Adderall XR and Adderall IR. These "attacks" didn't begin until after I began taking Adderall XR. My doctor has not actually mentioned this, but I myself have wondered if these bizarre sensations are in some way related to Adderall XR. Or perhaps linked to Adderall, amphetamines or psycho-stimulants in general. When I researched my symptoms last year, I remember reading that "zaps" can occur if you abruptly stops taking antidepressants (like Cymbalta and Zoloft) without tapering your dosage. I hadn't taken any kind of antidepressants prior to the onset of my headaches. Though, I'll add that I haven't had a single episode since my neurologist added Wellbutrin XL to my Narcolepsy cocktail this past January.

Anyway, I hope my experience matches up with your own so you don't feel too alone in your plight! Perhaps my neurologist's pseudo-diagnosis can shed some light on your mysterious and unpleasant situation... good luck, and let me know if you figure things out! :)

#12 wisher

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 10:42 AM

Wow, what a wealth of information in your post, petitelinguiste! Some of it sounds familiar, and some of it doesn't. I'll have to read through all of the links and stuff you posted, though, so I can get a better handle on it. In the past, pretty much anything I read about "migraines" or "headaches" just didn't seem to match with what I'm experience. I hope, however, that you've brought some new information to my attention!

As for the Adderall, no, I don't take it and I never have. This was the first thing people kept suggesting when I began having these zaps, that they were just something that happens to people when they stop taking antidepressants. The only problem is that I had never taken antidepressants before this began! Interestingly, my neurologist DID put me on an antidepressant for a few weeks, in an attempt to treat these "migraines". It did absolutely nothing, but when I stopped taking them, I did notice a *different* zing/zip feeling when I woke up in the morning, which I attributed to the antidepressants.

Anyway I'll have to research/read now. Thanks for your reply!

#13 drago

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:52 PM

This is an older post, but I wanted to add something to it:

-- Exploding head syndrome: technically this relates to hearing a loud sound, but many people also experience pain/sensation that goes along with it

-- SSRI discontinuation syndrome: Long before I was dx'd with narcolepsy, I experienced brain "rainstorms." I call them this because they were almost like a chill, but much more comfortable, closer to a cool rain on a hot summer day than a "chill up the spine" kind of experience. The sensation was highly localized (I could point out where I experienced the sensation) and would usually co-occur with ideas, art, science, etc. that I found highly interesting. Basically, while SSRI discontinuation syndrome could  be a cause, the symptoms listed can occur for other reasons. I experienced these sensations (including the occasional "ZAP" feeling) long before taking any prescription

-- Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

 

drago



#14 lizzQ

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 12:42 AM

It's like a buzz on the sides of your brain just behind and a little above your ears and you can almost hear it, right? As though your brain is tired and it's giving itself a jolt... I've had those buzzes since I was a kid. It doesn't hurt it just feels strange.

#15 Ferret

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 07:41 AM

I've only experienced this three times in 27 years and I haven't taken any medication for a very long time (25 years). To me, it felt like a crackling "zzzzttttt" sensation. I remember thinking at the time..."Oh great, I just fried another circuit". It didn't hurt but my hubby could tell by the look on my face that something weird had just happened.

Since it hasn't happened in over 10 years, I guess all my faulty circuits have either been cauterized or rerouted somehow....or not ;)



#16 wisher

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:42 AM

It's like a buzz on the sides of your brain just behind and a little above your ears and you can almost hear it, right? As though your brain is tired and it's giving itself a jolt... I've had those buzzes since I was a kid. It doesn't hurt it just feels strange.

 

Yes, that's a pretty accurate description. It usually doesn't hurt me either, just feels weird, but sometimes it's really strong. =/



#17 wisher

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Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:43 AM

I've only experienced this three times in 27 years and I haven't taken any medication for a very long time (25 years). To me, it felt like a crackling "zzzzttttt" sensation. I remember thinking at the time..."Oh great, I just fried another circuit". It didn't hurt but my hubby could tell by the look on my face that something weird had just happened.

Since it hasn't happened in over 10 years, I guess all my faulty circuits have either been cauterized or rerouted somehow....or not ;)

 

Ha! If I fried another circuit every time this happened, my brain might be pretty well usueless by now. Or least that particular part of my brain! (Who knows, maybe it IS, lol.)



#18 OneSleepyDude

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 10:25 AM

Wisher-

I have experienced these exact same things as long as I can remember. Its a crazy feeling - like a battery shock inside my skull and mine are immediately followed with a radiating tingling sensation in the back left side behind my ear. They come and go - quite randomly actually and never at an opportune time. They stop me in whatever I'm doing and take a moment to subside.

I've had them occur since childhood- and I've most recently gone about 2 months since my most recent "zinger". My wife laughed the first time I told her and later on actually had one with her present and she couldn't imagine what was up with me.

This odd array of sensations and symptoms is beginning to paint an amazing picture.

#19 DeathRabbit

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 10:56 AM

I had pretty bad brain zaps when going off of Paxil. I don't think it was an N thing for me though. Brain zaps are a common side effect of SSRI withdrawal.



#20 OneSleepyDude

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 11:10 AM

I have never taken much medication let alone an Advil here and there my entire life. So definitely not a symptom caused by a medication change - in my particular situation. SSRI's defibitely has a lot of discussion and research to be had.