The Zoloft Birth Defects Center provides comprehensive information about birth defects linked to Zoloft use by mothers during their pregnancy.

Zoloft Withdrawal Can Cause “Brain Zaps”

One of the many alarming side effects of Zoloft withdrawal can be brief, repetitive electric shock-like sensations commonly known as brain zaps. According to Psychology Today, withdrawal from antidepressants like Zoloft, other anxiety medications and sleeping pills are the most common causes of this sensation.

What are the Symptoms of Brain Zaps?

In addition to the electric shock-like sensations, patients often describe an electrical buzzing sound in their brains along with disorientation, tinnitus (a ringing in the ears), dizziness and a lightheaded sensation. Often, moving the eyes quickly from side to side can bring on the sensation, and it can also be felt in other parts of the body.

What Causes Brain Zaps?

Physicians believe that the neurochemical change brought about in the brain when decreasing a dosage of antidepressants can bring on brain zaps, even if a patient withdraws slowly from his or her medication. It is the brain attempting to readjust to the absence of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) in the body.

Depending upon the individual’s withdrawal symptoms, brain zaps, and other ailments, could become debilitating.

Do Not Attempt to Discontinue Zoloft On Your Own

Doctors do not recommed abruptly discontinuing Zoloft and other medications in the SSRI class. The dosage must be gradually reduced under medical supervision. Abruptly stopping your dosage can cause brain zaps and many other side effects, including a relapse of your depression. Brain zaps are not considered dangerous, but a combination of side effects associated with Zoloft withdrawal can be. Patients should consult with their physicians about how to properly decrease their medication to keep side effects to a minimum. Very often, it can take months to safely discontinue the use of antidepressants, and there is no guarantee that discontinuation will be symptom-free.

Taking an SSRI can pose serious risks to the individual, especially if it is taken by women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. For most people, the benefits outweigh the risks, but it is important to be informed about how difficult stopping the medication can be. It is always best to speak to a qualified medical professional before embarking on a course of treatment that includes Zoloft, or another SSRI. Zoloft is known to cause severe birth defects in infants born to mothers who took the drug while pregnant.

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