Brain zaps...but not in the brain
August 30, 2020 4:07 PM   Subscribe

For years, I've had these occasional "electric shock" sensations in random places in my body (usually limbs). They sound like what some people describe as "brain zaps" but they're never felt in my head.

I don't remember when they first started, but they seem to correlate with days when I don't get as much sleep or am more stressed/anxious than usual. (I am not on any medications that could cause these sensations). They're usually very brief (a second or two) but annoying nonetheless.

So I guess my question is: has anyone else ever had these? Are they just a physical manifestation of stress/anxiety? I did ask my Dr at my last physical and she really didn't know. I am otherwise healthy.

Thanks all!
posted by cozenedindigo to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Probably myoclonus, probably fine.
posted by notquitemaryann at 4:23 PM on August 30, 2020

Myoclonus is a brief muscle jerk or twitch. It's non-sensory by definition.

What you describe are called paresthesias. Lots of causes, some of which are benign, some less so. Something that's been going on for years without worsening is more likely to be benign, but a good neurologist will help figure out where it's coming from and what might be done about it.
posted by basalganglia at 5:37 PM on August 30, 2020

Try to keep track if these shocks are linked to any specific movements, too. Right after you feel one, think about what you are doing. Repeat the movement to see if you get another shock. These will be good data points to have when discussing with a healthcare professional.
posted by mephisjo at 6:17 PM on August 30, 2020

Does this webpage help?
posted by metabaroque at 6:57 PM on August 30, 2020

Wow! I’ve had these since I was a kid, but even neurologists have just shrugged and said “it doesn’t sound so bad, so I wouldn’t worry.” Every doctor I’ve mentioned it to was so dismissive I thought I must be imagining it and never thought to look online.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:39 PM on August 30, 2020

I'll get reactions like this if I haven't taken my magnesium supplement for a day or two.
posted by Vervain at 1:17 AM on August 31, 2020

I've been experiencing something similar over the past year or so, when my life got exponentially more stressful. My theory is that it's a flood of cortisol/adrenaline related to anxiety. It feels like that stomach-flipping rollercoaster feeling, but pooling in other parts of my body instead of my stomach.
posted by headnsouth at 3:04 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got these all the time in my neck when I was taking wellbutrin for depression but then was switched to the generic (grrrr) and it spiked my anxiety to the point I became agoraphobic. It took about 3 years for them to stop completely after I got off the meds. I've not gotten them since, so they were definitely linked to extreme anxiety for me.
posted by ananci at 8:49 AM on August 31, 2020

I'm glad at least one other person shares these sensations, haha. It sounds fairly benign, but I'll monitor for any change in frequency, etc. Thanks all!
posted by cozenedindigo at 12:30 PM on August 31, 2020

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