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Dr. Frank
Dr. Frank, Board Certified Physician
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 9000
Experience:  Board certified general Adult Neurologist, with experience in experimental neuroimaging and neurodiagnostics.
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I have electrical pulses happening in brain with a headache.

Customer Question

I have electrical pulses happening in brain with a headache. I went off generic wellbutrin. Is that causing this sensation?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

Hello. Welcome to JA. The answer to your question would be yes. What you are describing is called "lightning" headache or "ice-pick" headpain because it seems like someone is striking you with an icepick. They are transient, usually on the areas of scalp over muscle, like the temporalis, frontal or occipitalis muscles, and they have been associated with SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) of which Wellbutrin (bupropion) is one. We really do not know the exact cause of this problem. Some feel it is related to the changes in serotonin in the brain and the connections to small nerve sensory fibers that run in the scalp. There is a layer of scalp called the aponeurosis, which is a tight fibrous layer there to prevent infections from penetrating the scalp and getting near the skull (from our more animal days). The nerve fibers pierce that layer and may be pinched by compression of the muscles of the scalp, causing pain. But it is only a theory. Treatment is NSAID's like ibuprofen, or sometimes indomethacin (Indocin) which is prescription but seems to work better with cranial muscles like those mentioned. Your physician can prescribe that for you.

Expert:  Dr. Frank replied 1 year ago.

correction: bupropion (Wellbutrin) is not in the SSRI category, but it functions in a similar fashion, effecting the norepinephrine and serotonin transporters to increase extrasynaptic neurotransmitters. no one has identified exactly how bupropion does that. Dr Frank