Brain zaps: do you need to worry?
Are you a seasoned raver or festival-goer? Then you’re likely familiar with ‘brain zaps’ – those sharp cranial jolts that feel like nails scratching down your brain stem. But what’s behind this grisly post-party affliction...and can they be avoided? Read on for the 411.
Data regarding brain zaps is scarce. It mostly concerns people withdrawing from SSRIs – these are antidepressants which stimulate release of the ‘happy’ transmitter serotonin (the same hormone that’s often produced during an intense night or weekend of partying).
Experts have suggested zaps could be a result of the brain reacting to this tap of serotonin being abruptly switched off. They have also been linked with lateral eye movements in people discontinuing use of SSRIs.
Thankfully, zaps are not perceived by experts to be dangerous. But can we do anything to reduce the chance of this dreaded brain buzz? Always practise self-care whilst partying – hydrate and sleep as much as the line-up allows. (But you already knew that 🙄.)
Some people posit that tryptophan-heavy foods (like eggs, tofu or tuna) afterwards might help as this amino acid is a precursor to serotonin – the boosting of which could theoretically help the dreaded zaps.
Research here is mixed, however exercise has been credited with increasing tryptophan availability to the brain. Want our advice? Head out for a gentle jog or swim, then get that butter bubbling in the omelette pan 🍳
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