Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Tactile hallucination: feeling of electricity

My mom has often complained about a feeling of ‘electricity’. There is a correlation with schizophrenia, I believe.

Has anyone else come across this? Does anyone have any advice?

I read one person’s account that Niacin (Vitamin B3) helped with this.


My daughter had the sensation of her skin crawling. Once, in combination with a visual hallucination, she felt a woman touched her. The right antipsychotic made all of her hallucinations go away. I haven’t heard of supplements that help.

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No advice but My son had a lot of “brain zaps” in the beginning . He said they have gotten better with time. He does take Vit B complex but im have no clue it thats the cause of it diminishing.

myson used to get that too…he felt it was a spiritual thing

My daughter recently experienced something that sounds like “brain zaps”. It turned out to be a panic attack. Treating the anxiety made the symptom disappear. She does have lingering fears of it coming back.


Thanks to everyone for their responses and shared experiences.
The electricity that my mother complained about, is more in her body, rather than her head.
She would say it bothered her when she lay down, and so she thought someone was trying to electrocute her in the bed. She would lay on the sofa. Another time she complained about having it in her feet, so she had to keep them elevated. It doesn’t seem connected to these brain zaps.

I have full sympathy for your loved ones. Every now and again (this morning coincidentally), I experience what could be referred to as a brain zap usually around or after sunrise. In my experience, it is like the loud crackle of static from a radio that isn’t tuned properly. It just lasts a few seconds, long enough to wake me. It happened at 5:30am. I know it’s just in my head, as it doesn’t bother my husband. I don’t understand why it happens. I can imagine how frightening that would be if you are simultaneously struggling with psychosis.

Anyway, I will consider this topic closed. Whether Vitamin B3 helps or not, I believe good nutrition is important for all of us — and especially to support our loved ones dealing with schizophrenia.

Is there a possibility this is a misperception or exaggeration of what’s colloquially called ‘pins and needles’? This might point to circulation problems like Raynard’s syndrome or neurological issues like peripheral neuropathies or sciatica issues. People with SMI often fail to go to doctors to get screened for high blood pressure or diabetes which are more prevalent for them. Life expectancies for folks with SZ and other SMI are significantly lower for these and other reasons.

I rarely disclose my SZA DX, because I fear it sometimes leads to real symptoms being ignored as ‘in my head’ even though I’ve been asymptotic for years. My PCP and Psychiatrist know, but I generally don’t tell specialists. Unfortunately vague symptoms can be confusing unless the right specialist learns of them. I had a cough I ignored for years because I have a lung disease that turned out to be GERD which eventually narrowed my esophagus, and caused coughing fits at night. I only found out I had the lung disease because I was being qualified for LASIK and the eye doctor saw something and had my PCP run a battery of tests.

Bottom line is possible symptoms of SZ might mask other things, so it’s good to run things by her physician and make sure she gets screened for the important stuff.

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Thanks, @Maggotbrane … my mother has had a general physical every 1-2 year by her GP (General Practitioner) — I take her to all appointments, and ensure her blood tests are processed by LifeLabs so I’m able to get a copy of the results. She actually has low blood pressure (must run in the family, as so do I). Neither one of us have type II diabetes, but it is a risk we have to watch out for. My mother-in-law suffers from GERD, I sympathize. Also, allergies, so there is a lot of coughing when she visits. But no drama, she’s delightful. :wink:
I read online in one clinical trial involving schizophrenia that several of the people involved in the trial complained of this feeling of electricity coursing through their bodies. I thought maybe it might be common, but maybe it’s not. You are right, of course — many symptoms can be misinterpreted, by the patients themselves, and/or the physicians.

Another tactile hallucination is the feeling of electricity moving through the patient’s body.

I doubt that I can find the original study that I was referring to, but this ‘electricity’ is briefly mentioned above.

In any case, my mother isn’t complaining about it at the moment. That doesn’t mean it isn’t bothering her, sometimes she forgets to tell me things. ha!
She is still off her medication. However, generally she seems to be doing well.
The time before wasn’t good, she was having a lot of paranoia and worried someone was after her. This time, the paranoia is manageable, and she is generally in good spirits. She’s having auditory hallucinations, but they have been mostly positive. Example: We went walking with our masks on yesterday, and she told me that a woman had remarked “what a lovely mask”. My husband and I weren’t aware of this remark, so pretty sure it was a hallucination — but no harm done. Every day, we speak by telephone and/or video chat, and each evening my husband and I drop off a hot home cooked meal for her. When we do our weekly grocery shop, we get her groceries as well. She misses her friends and playing cards, but they’ve been calling every once in a while. My mom is watching tv, listening to music, and is engaged when you speak to her. Naturally, she has her off days, but that can be true of anyone. I’m just grateful that for the time being she is stable and the best place for her to be right now is home, and not in hospital.
I hope everyone here on this forum is finding some peace during these very uncertain times.

Sounds good. I like your perspective on her less troublesome symptoms. Many caregivers are confused when I say that there’s such a thing as ‘good’ hallucinations or delusions, in that they are innocuous and serve to bring self esteem up rather than down.

It reminds me when I mentioned dream work to the uninitiated while I was under Jungian analysis. People tended to assume my dreams were nightmares, but most were helpful and often pleasant. I would look forward to them and enjoyed discussing even the nightmarish and bizarre ones, as they made me special. Avoiding a pathological mindset and seeking to understand or laugh off less impactful symptoms is better for everyone in the long run.

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As long as my mom is engaged in this world, and enjoying the relationships with family and friends, and not fearful for her life, then there’s no problem with her having a rich ‘other’ life. If it’s in addition to, rather than replacing, then it’s fine by me. As long as the voices are friendly, then it’s good company for her.
I mostly don’t remember dreams, unless it just upon waking … but when I do remember them, they are often vivid and compelling and very strange! It’s not good when I have something on my mind that is bothering me, because my brain works overtime at night, trying to find a solution to the puzzle. I wake up exhausted. I realize it’s happening, but can’t stop it. Most of my dreams are amusing in their strangeness, but once in a while I have what I call a nightmare — either something terrifying or simply unpleasant — and it’s always a relief to wake up and think ‘that wasn’t real’.
It broke my heart when my mother was hospitalized and envisioned snakes under the bed, trying to bite her — which felt very real to her. She was having psychosis, but they weren’t going to medicate her until Monday, when the advocate consulted her and got authorization. I was so frustrated and didn’t understand why they couldn’t just give her the medication that is legally prescribed to her.
Needless to say, it put me off forcing her to go to the hospital again (and certainly never on a weekend). I’m not saying that hospitalization wouldn’t be necessary if the paranoia becomes bad — but if it’s auditory and visual hallucinations that aren’t causing problems, there’s no need to put her through trauma. Having schizophrenia isn’t inherently bad, it’s the effects that cause misery — that are undesirable. Life is a balance, we have to appreciate the good and deal with the rest the best we can.
I’m off to bed (hopefully to have a restful sleep). Goodnight. :slight_smile:

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It seems smart to be fully aware of all underlying medical issues, such as diabetes, like MB said, can manifest or be interpreted in not-so-obvious ways.