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We answer all types of Neurology/Neurological questions about the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. Include your age, sex, current meds, and known diagnoses, upcoming/completed appointments, tests, or procedures. We are not physicians. We help explain medical terminology and give support.
Electrical Shock Sensations
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FaithRestMom posted:
For many years, when I become extremely upset, I experience little bursts of what feels like electrical shocks (unpleasant, not painful) in my face, head, arms, and hands, both IN those regions and in the skin of those regions. I hear waves of high pitch whining in my ears. I also have visual disturbance of black blotches appearing and disappearing fairly quickly. During these times I also have episodes of derealization & depersonalization. If I can reduce the amount of negative emotion, the sensations go away within about an hour and I'm left feeling tired and edgy the rest of the day, but the skin and inner tissues in my head, arms, and hands feel particularly sensitive and uncomfortable.

The few times I couldn't get away from the negative stimulus I have uncontrollably exploded (verbally), even if I'm not necessarily being verbally attacked (it's happened with grief) and the sensations turn into painful waves of electrical activity with quite a lot of vision disturbance and the high pitched come-and-go sounds turn into a deafening roar. In this case, when I can finally get things sorted out, I am really wiped out, physically weak and sensitive weepy, and moody for a few days afterward.

I put a lot of effort into keep my life drama-free and not overreacting to things. My husband is helpful to me, as well. I seek out a peaceful and content life, so I only experience this, at most, two or three times in a year. But the episodes are so powerful that I remain concerned about them for a long time.

As I've gotten older (this started in my teens, and I am now 45) the stimulus required to bring on these sensations has lessened. The sensations were also more common when I took Cymbalta - so bad that I had to quit taking it altogether.

Other issues not necessarily related: bipolar 2, type 2 diabetes, GERD, tachycardia, hypothyroidism, derealization episodes without other symptoms. Take prozac, lamotrigine (for bipolar), propranalol (for tachycardia), prilosec, levothyroxine, nortriptyline (to prevent migraines), Metformin.

I was having these sensations when I became upset long before I took any medications or had any of these diagnoses.

Fairly common? Not unusual? Variation of normal? Or something I should have evaluated?
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regslady responded:
I don't know if this will be of any help since the surrounding events aren't the same but...

My fiancee gets them with some of his seizures. I get them in my neck/face, starting in an area where I've got a disc pushing agains my spinal cord.

I don't know how common that sensation is, but I don't think it is "normal". It's definately worth bringing up to both your doctor and whoever treats your bipolar. I think it is probably a coincidence, but my fiance and I have bipolar as well. I've met a lot of people with that condition and haven't heard any of them mention the electrical symptom.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 
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Lifes responded:
Being tachy, changes in BP, and hormonal fluctuation including with the thyroid can each cause or contribute to what you describe. My suggestion is to ask your Dr to re-check your thyroid and estrogen levels, and do routine blood work including BS.

If the episodes are frequent enough, ask your dr if you could wear a Haltar Monitor for 24 hours to see what your heart is doing.

The combination of drugs (especially ones that change chemicals in the brain) could be contributing. But, there's not a whole lot to do for that except to decrease or stop the med-- with your dr's input. I take Trileptal every 12 hours and 2 hours before and 2 hours after a dose, my head buzzes like a swarm of bees. My heart rate pounds because of a 2nd med I must take. The combination is like having a swarm of bees beating their wings on miniature drums! LOL It is disturbing but... my alternatives are limited.

I'm also wondering if part of your episodes are anxiety, or maybe mimic anxiety? It sounds very much like the upsetting situations feel like a "threat" to you at the time it's happening. Even grief is a "threat" to our inner being-- not only because it's a loss but it can cause a free-floating type of anxiety. Many people do experience significant anger when they are sad. And, that anger can snowball to everything else.

Have you ever kept track of the pieces of events leading up to an episode? I'll give an example... when my kid was in school and would say she needed xx number of dollars before tomorrow, I thought my angry outburst was just because I had little money. But when I wrote down times, dates, etc. I saw a pattern, like my kid always waited till after 6 or 8 pm, I was always very tired, plus I had no money and the bank was closed. I set a rule that she needed to tell me about money before 5:30pm. I also made myself NOT do bill-paying at night because money was a huge stressor at the time. My kid asking for money also got me riled up because I was fighting her dad for child support. ALL of that contributed to my outbursts. So maybe you'll find some clues if you sit down right after an episode and write down the pieces of what happened, your thoughts etc. Even if a feeling or thought seems unrelated, it's connected uniquely for you at that time.

It's really good that you desire peaceful living and that you recognize the episodes. Anger releases adrenaline so it's really easy to get hooked on expressing anger. Since you have some warning symptoms, would it be possible to go into a room and sit quietly before you explode? Maybe have a notebook near the chair and "chart" what you feel at the time?

Do ask your doctor about those tests.

Lifes
 
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FaithRestMom replied to Lifes's response:
You've both given some good feedback. Since it doesn't happen very often I sometimes get complacent between episodes but I think I'll set up a note in my cellphone just for recording what is happening during those times. I always have my cellphone and can share what I record with the dr.

The last episode (last week) was followed by several days of unusual irritability that I was finally able to track to low blood sugar. I've recently lost weight (intentionally) and finally lost enough that my diabetes medication needed to be discontinued. Though I really don't think it's related, I will monitor my blood sugar when it happens as well - because you just never know.


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