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"Brain Shivers" as an Effexor Withdrawal Symptom

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Updated October 19, 2012

While reading the forum one day I came across a reference to something called "brain shivers". After nearly three years of being on an SSRI, I hadn't felt anything like the Effexor withdrawal symptoms being described, so my curiosity was piqued. I posted some questions about this unusual side effect and the answers I received follow. Many thanks to those who replied to my post.

Due to the large number of posts, the comments are spread out over two pages. Please be sure to click through to read them all. A description of what causes these Effexor withdrawal symptoms called "brain shivers" follows on page three.

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For what it's worth, the so-called "brain shivers" are probably more technically referred to just as dizziness. I think we use the funkier term because the effect is rather intense, and very brief and sharp. FXR (Effexor) is well-known for producing this effect, particularly in withdrawal.

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Don't forget Paxil withdrawal! It may be dizziness but it's definitely not the standard issue variety. Sort of shock-like.

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Not me. What I experienced, and still sometimes do, is not dizziness or even similar. I did get dizziness on Effexor at first but that was distinctly different from the brain shiver deal.

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People are getting sensations in places there aren't supposed to be sensations. Brain shivers can run your whole body right out to the tips of your fingers and toes. And back again.

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I get brain shivers when my chair (regular as clockwork boys and girls) takes off and starts flying round the room at 9:45pm.

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I don't think the docs believe us yet. When the whole idea of brain shivers was first being related by people on these online support groups docs did not believe in 'brain shivers.' I think it was only last year or the one before that they got the message.

Note: The symbol ">" indicates a quote snipped from someone else's post.

>I'm looking for any and all information I can get about the phenomenon called "brain shivers"

They suck.

>--what it feels like,

Anything from just a subtle sensation that your brain didn't move around as fast as your head did or a silly-springy-jello-head feeling for a moment to full-fledged lightning storms with hurricanes and waterspouts in high seas, very painful.

> what drugs cause this effect, etc.

Effexor is notable.

Even years later.

>Also, has anyone heard a medical explanation of what's going on in the brain when this happens?

Not I. When I first reported it my doc couldn't find any literature at all. That was three years ago.

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It happens to me if I turn my head quickly, or if I stop suddenly, or in general with sudden motion. They're worse if I'm nervous.

I've seen them described as feeling as though your brain keeps going when you turn your head. That doesn't seem quite adequate to me. It's more like this:

You turn your head or your whole body (This happens to me if I whirl around too quickly as I'm taking the stairs. What? Doesn't everyone whirl on the stairs?), but your brain stays put for a micro second, then tries to catch up but only in a stuttering, stopstart motion, accompanied by a staccato 'zzt zzt zzt' with each stop. The 'zzt' you can feel in your head, an electric sort of vertigo, and it often reverberates in your hands and fingers. Some folks feel it in their toes; I haven't yet.

Sometimes your brain overshoots and comes strobing back, then overshoots again. This all unfolds in just a second or two.

These days I endeavor to go around corners all smooth slow and steadylike. Helps to reduce the number of brain shivers per day.

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