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Lexapro Withdrawal Brain Zaps

Last Updated on September 17, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Lexapro withdrawal brain zaps can begin to appear during abrupt cessation, after a missed or reduced dose, and can occur at random when taking the drug as prescribed. Brain zaps are an under-studied phenomenon, despite the volume of reported instances.

These disturbing sensations are prescription-drug-related, but can also occur after using street drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, often after a period of binge use. Zaps can accompany withdrawals from other antidepressants, benzodiazepines, hypnotics, and many other CNS depressants.1
lexapro withdrawal brain zaps
Sensations of jolts of electricity going through the head, neck, and down the spine and outward can persist for days, weeks, and even months. The term brain zap does not come from medical literature, per se, but is taken from vivid anecdotal descriptions. Despite their disconcerting characteristics, and the vast number of anecdotal reports, medical research has not provided complete answers so far to these brain shocks, shivers, jolts, and zapping sensations.7

Organic Chemicals and CNS Support

The body in its miraculously complex design produces organic chemicals (neurotransmitters) that monitor and manage essential functions such as muscle movement, coordination, expression of emotions, and uncountable others. These natural chemicals are messengers that are carried along the nerve channels of the central nervous system. Toward a simple comparative analogy, one might visualize an irrigation system that serves an orchard full of trees. The spacing of trees (like the spaces between nerve cells), enables continuous transfer of essential water and nutrients along an orderly irrigation line and keeps the orchard alive and thriving. If one were to cut that irrigation line or dump a load of toxic waste in between the rows of trees, the result would be a haphazard mess of poisoned and drowning tree roots in some spots where the water floods over, and withered trees from the drought and nutrient deficits created in other places.

The breach of irrigation lines would generate chaos and begin to degrade the vitality of the orchard. One notices that fixing such a disaster does not involve pouring experimental chemicals into the soil but fixing the cut irrigation lines and perhaps waste removal and remembering to re-fertilize the soil richly with organic raw materials. The body, like the orchard, needs to be supported with the right nutrients to keep thriving and healthy in much the same way.

Though the analogy is only approximate, there is a similarity of basic flow lines that run through the brain, nerve endings, cell walls, organs, and about a million other parts and pieces that make up a human body. The CNS is a major carrier of vital information that needs to get to other parts of the body. If the CNS is clogged, halted, overstimulated, overburdened, undernourished, poisoned, dehydrated, or otherwise disordered and threatened, its last defense is often to send a signal of pain or discomfort to summon aid.

Support for a healthy thriving body including the CNS includes giving the necessary nutrients for the manufacture of our natural neurochemicals, cellular repair, the transmission and receipt of signals, and regulating the million other functions attached to it that support life. Nutrition from diet and supplementation is extremely important for many purposes, not the least of which is to help mitigate Lexapro withdrawal symptoms such as brain zaps as one attempts to come off the drug and recover natural mental health. While we do not know everything that can be known about Lexapro withdrawal brain zaps, we know a great deal about recovery from Lexapro withdrawal to mitigate these disconcerting Lexapro withdrawal reactions.2

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Electrical Flow and Brain Zaps

lexapro withdrawal brain zapsWhile the entire picture remains far from complete, pieces of information hopefully shed some light regarding the mechanics of electricity, chemical exchange, and the brain. Neurologists study the way electrically charged neurons “fire” from cell to cell within the brain and CNS, sending impulses along the axons (which could be likened to hydro lines strung pole-to-pole that send power across a city). Thankfully, hydro lines are insulated, so we don’t get electrically shocked or zapped when we walk or drive down the street.

Similarly, there is a myelin sheath that insulates the whole length and breadth of each nerve cell (neuron). The sheath wraps the long axon part of the neuron that houses the mitochondria (energy producers) much like the vulnerable inner sapwood of a tree is insulated and protected by tree bark. In the myelin sheath, the insulation extends out over each of the tens of thousands of synapses that string themselves outward from the body of the cell. (Interestingly, these closely resemble the branches of a tree.) Evidence now exists showing that damaged mitochondria are linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.3

A good example of uninsulated electrical flow might be witnessing the sparks that fly after a windstorm brings down and severs electrical power lines. Hopefully, you have only seen this on film or video. The point is that electrical impulses flow perfectly along an insulated line until a breach impedes and disrupts the flow of electrons. One also notices that fixing a cut power line involves mainly restoring the integrity of the insulation around the wire. The electricity flow will take care of itself without harming anything in its environment once that insulation breach is repaired. No more sparks.4

Nutrition Plays an Important Role

These observations may seem oversimplified, but indeed the analogy is intriguing enough to invite further study of the mechanics that may be connected to brain shivers and uncomfortable electrical jolts and how to best heal from and avoid them. Within this amazing symphony of electrical flow and organic chemical metabolization and action, the brain and CNS are designed to perform thousands of coordinated and health-sustaining tasks. But nutrients provide the raw materials for function and support. There is a tsunami of literature on the role of nutrition and mental health, and a few interesting examples are listed, with more detailed explanations given below.

Lexapro Brain Zaps — Notes on Nutrition and Neuron Health
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Adequate proteins
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12
  • Glutathione
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3 (niacin) and tryptophan
  • Vitamin E
  • Healthy gut microbiota

One example from clinical trials on the subject of peripheral nerve regeneration after traumatic or chemical injury is the neuroprotective role of adequate protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids. PUFAs can be added to the diet with avocado oil, pure fish oils, and olive oil. Vitamin A from vegetable sources and supplementation has also been proven to prevent psychiatric symptoms and prevents the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Vitamin D3 from plant or animal sources has also been shown to play multiple roles in neuron regeneration, and mental health, specifically in reducing the incidence of depression. Vitamin E deficiency has been shown to correlate with delayed nerve regeneration. Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. None of the B vitamins can be synthesized by the body except for B3 (niacin) which is synthesized with tryptophan. B vitamins B1, B6, and B12 in particular support neuron regeneration so these are highly recommended for supplementation. B2 regulates glutathione, an important antioxidant, as well as supports myelination throughout the nervous system B5 is necessary for the creation and maintenance of the myelin sheath. B9 (folic acid) also improves neuron regeneration. Vitamin C given orally helps repair nerves after traumatic injury. Support for a healthy gut microbiome is also essential for many aspects of physical and mental health, including having a positive effect on neurological disorders. A massive amount of research has arisen in recent times highlighting the importance of a correct diet that provides prebiotics, probiotics, proteins, and other substances that are needed to support microbiome health. In turn, microbiome health leads to improved mental health.13,14 There are many known examples of targeted nutritional factors that can be utilized for improvements.

Lab-testing at Alternative to Meds Center can uncover deficiencies that may urgently need to be corrected.

A big part of brain/CNS support is providing the right raw ingredients to fuel the machine, which is why we value the role of nutrition so highly, as one of the most important and fundamental parts of our program at Alternative to Meds Center.5,6,10,11

Healing After Lexapro Withdrawal Brain Zaps

lexapro holistic withdrawalThrough their research, neuroscientists tell us that the myelin sheath that wraps and insulates nerve cells is made of fat and other components. Myelin is destroyed by drugs, alcohol, high sugar, poor sleep, vitamin and mineral imbalances and deficiencies, and other known factors.

While no one has yet determined that degraded myelin sheathing is 100% responsible for zaps during and after drug binges and withdrawal, certainly no harm and possibly much good could come from doing the things that support adequate nutrition, providing the exact raw materials that afford and safeguard myelin production and so many other factors that support natural mental health.

Alternative to Meds Center provides a holistic drug withdrawal and recovery program which abides by the nutritional guidelines of orthomolecular medicine and seeks to repair and stabilize neurochemistry after drug and alcohol damage, well-supported by neurotoxin removal.

The removal of neurotoxins plays no small role in the repair of health. Neurotoxins may have damaged or impacted nerves, myelin, and other tissues and disrupted their vital and highly complex, specialized functions in a healthy body. The importance of neurotoxin removal cannot be overstated. Having a “clean machine” gives our clients true relief from toxin-induced symptoms, providing substantial improvements in natural mental health.8,9

Find Out More

Our focus is on recovery. Sadly, most inpatient mental health programs are focused just about everywhere else and on anything else you can think of, but NOT on recovery. Studies around the world have shown a breathtaking absence of recovery-focused programs.12

We know you seek recovery from disturbances to your natural mental health. This is our focus and our programs achieve results without relying on prescription drugs which in our view can only provide something like a “fake recovery” where symptoms as masked, but their root causes are still very much a threat to future health outcomes. We want to discover and resolve root causes for unwanted symptoms.

Contact Alternative to Meds Center to find out more about our protocols that aim to help those in recovery from drugs and other substances through a comprehensive treatment program that involves restoring health, and removing impediments to health, in a very comfortable residential setting. We will happily provide detailed information concerning our phases of treatment, which can be viewed in detail on our services overview pages. We have been dedicated for nearly 2 decades now, to assist you or a loved one who seeks help with the correction of addictive biochemistry, safe medication reduction, and other issues including Lexapro withdrawal brain zaps.

1. Papp A, Onton JA. Brain Zaps: An Underappreciated Symptom of Antidepressant Discontinuation. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2018 Dec 20;20(6):18m02311. doi: 10.4088/PCC.18m02311. PMID: 30605268. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

2. Hengartner MP, Schulthess L, Sorensen A, Framer A. Protracted withdrawal syndrome after stopping antidepressants: a descriptive quantitative analysis of consumer narratives from a large internet forum. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2020 Dec 24;10:2045125320980573. doi: 10.1177/2045125320980573. PMID: 33489088; PMCID: PMC7768871.[cited 2022 Sept 16]

3. Pradeepkiran JA, Reddy PH. Defective mitophagy in Alzheimer’s disease. Ageing Res Rev. 2020 Dec;64:101191. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2020.101191. Epub 2020 Oct 3. PMID: 33022416; PMCID: PMC7710581. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

4. University of Calgary Energy Education Electrical Insulation [published online N.D.] [cited 2022 Sept 16]

5. El Soury M, Fornasari BE, Carta G, Zen F, Haastert-Talini K, Ronchi G. The Role of Dietary Nutrients in Peripheral Nerve Regeneration. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 10;22(14):7417. doi: 10.3390/ijms22147417. PMID: 34299037; PMCID: PMC8303934.[cited 2022 Sept 16]

6. Firth J, Teasdale SB, Allott K, Siskind D, Marx W, Cotter J, Veronese N, Schuch F, Smith L, Solmi M, Carvalho AF, Vancampfort D, Berk M, Stubbs B, Sarris J. The efficacy and safety of nutrient supplements in the treatment of mental disorders: a meta-review of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. World Psychiatry. 2019 Oct;18(3):308-324. doi: 10.1002/wps.20672. PMID: 31496103; PMCID: PMC6732706. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

7. Hengartner MP, Schulthess L, Sorensen A, Framer A. Protracted withdrawal syndrome after stopping antidepressants: a descriptive quantitative analysis of consumer narratives from a large internet forum. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2020 Dec 24;10:2045125320980573. doi: 10.1177/2045125320980573. PMID: 33489088; PMCID: PMC7768871. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

8. Genuis SJ. Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Nov;29(6):1147-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PMID: 18621076. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

9. Genuis SJ. Elimination of persistent toxicants from the human body. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Jan;30(1):3-18. doi: 10.1177/0960327110368417. Epub 2010 Apr 16. PMID: 20400489. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

10. Menon V, Kar SK, Suthar N, Nebhinani N. Vitamin D and Depression: A Critical Appraisal of the Evidence and Future Directions. Indian J Psychol Med. 2020 Jan 6;42(1):11-21. doi: 10.4103/IJPSYM.IJPSYM_160_19. PMID: 31997861; PMCID: PMC6970300. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

11. Farina N, Llewellyn D, Isaac MG, Tabet N. Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jan 27;1(1):CD002854. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002854.pub4. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Apr 18;4:CD002854. PMID: 28128435; PMCID: PMC6464807. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

12. Waldemar AK, Arnfred SM, Petersen L, Korsbek L. Recovery-Oriented Practice in Mental Health Inpatient Settings: A Literature Review. Psychiatr Serv. 2016 Jun 1;67(6):596-602. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2016 Feb 29. PMID: 26927572. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

13. Ojeda J, Ávila A, Vidal PM. Gut Microbiota Interaction with the Central Nervous System throughout Life. J Clin Med. 2021 Mar 21;10(6):1299. doi: 10.3390/jcm10061299. PMID: 33801153; PMCID: PMC8004117. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

14. Rinninella E, Cintoni M, Raoul P, Lopetuso LR, Scaldaferri F, Pulcini G, Miggiano GAD, Gasbarrini A, Mele MC. Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 7;11(10):2393. doi: 10.3390/nu11102393. PMID: 31591348; PMCID: PMC6835969. [cited 2022 Sept 16]

Originally Published Sep 19, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Lexapro Withdrawal Brain Zaps
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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