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Nancy Schimelpfening

"Brain Shivers" Have Two Parts, Reader Says: Electric Shock Sensation and Dizziness

By November 13, 2012

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A reader sent me this description of "brain shivers," which is one of the best I have seen:

It seems as though there are actually two different symptoms which are being described under the category of brain shivers.

The first is the 'electric shock.' In this case, there is an extremely brief moment where consciousness is disrupted with an overwhelming jolt that feels like an electrical shock. There may be a sound associated with the event, or even an instantaneous flash of light. After experiencing an overwhelming sensory event such as this, a person may be slightly disoriented for a few seconds. These shocks, in some people, can be precipitated by an unexpected/startle event. For example, suddenly noticing a vehicle which may collide with your own can cause the shock sensation.

The second is a kind of visual motion dizziness. This is much harder to describe, but it is as though the brain isn't correctly tying together the various sensory inputs from motion. Particularlly, visual. This, perhaps is similar to the effects seen in early virtual reality environments with low visual refresh rates, and a slight lag between the physical sensation of movement and the visual result of that movement. The result is that sudden movements result in an unpleasant dizzy type sensation.

What is your opinion of this description? Does it accurately describe how "brain shivers" feel to you? Please share your experiences below.

March 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm
(1) chris says:


June 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm
(2) Brown Eyes says:

The second brain shiver description is exactly what I have experienced for over ten days now. I have felt like I am losing my mind…but this gives me hope it is temporary. I tapered off normally and have been off for two weeks today but am still really feeling these symptoms. How long should I expect this to continue?

June 12, 2012 at 10:24 am
(3) vicki says:

i have both except my dizzyness is fairly constant. its a mixture of:
i cant wake up and have a fuzzy cotton wool brain, headache and dizzyness all rolled into one. can be worse if bend over but constantly there.
i was starting to think i may have a brain tumor or something but have read quite a lot today and discovered its almost certainly withdrawal. esp as i am coming off 2 types of AD’s! venlafaxine and trazodone :-(

its absolutely awful. i have had the tingly numbness, palpitations, nausau and vomiting, thiking i was having a stroke, awful. who would have thought this was so common?

November 20, 2012 at 10:52 am
(4) t baird says:

if you are easing off a ssri try taking prozac , it will diminish the side effects.

November 21, 2012 at 6:08 am
(5) lapis lazuli says:

I came off aropax “cold turkey” and for one week (approx the 4th week) experienced this most awful sympton. Severe dissiness followed by violent vomiting. I had No warning when it was going to happen, very very scary! Not pleasant at all and do not agree with “t baird’ if you are easing off a SSRI why would u take one? Does not make sense to me?

November 21, 2012 at 7:52 am
(6) Hannah says:

Describes it perfectly!

November 21, 2012 at 10:44 am
(7) Joanne says:

I have been having these maybe once a month, and I am not on any medication. Have bben off anti depressants for almost 5 years. Should I be concerned?

November 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm
(8) Helpful Gent says:

@Brown Eyes: Not sure what you’re on, but it took me about two weeks for the same thing to go away. I quit cold turkey, though.

November 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(9) Pgirl says:

I had minor brain shivers toccasionally when I was on effexor. the ground felt like it was shifting under me and I would be slightly dizzy for a few seconds, they scared me and the anxiety they caused triggered more weird sensations. When I was tapering off the med I had a few bad ones. It’s comorting to know they are just harmless symptoms of the meds and not a brain tumor or something awful.

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