Hormonal changes can change not only the body - they can change the mind as well. Many women that go through menopause start experiencing panic attacks, possibly even developing into panic disorder. Panic attacks are periods of intense, severe anxiety that are so powerful they cause the person to feel intense doom, as though their health is in jeopardy and they may be about to die.
What causes these panic attacks, and is there anything that can be done to prevent them?
How to Stop Panic Attacks
Panic disorder can be complicated by the way that it tends to create and sustain itself. That's why it's so important that you get started right away in controlling your panic and anxiety with my free 7 minute anxiety test.
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Hormone Imbalance and Panic
Interestingly, the specific reason that hormone imbalances lead to panic attacks isn't entirely clear. Hormones affect neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), coping ability, physical sensations, and more, so any number of those may be a factor in the development of panic.
You should start by taking my free 7 minute anxiety test. Note that not all menopause panic attacks are caused by menopause itself. Some are going to be caused by your reaction to the symptoms. Some are going to be caused by the concerns over the future and feelings of aging.
Starting in Perimenopause
It appears that the risk for panic attacks and panic disorder starts during the perimenopausal stage, when the body is starting to adjust to the oncoming menopause. Chances are that during this stage, with the hormones in flux, the ability to control anxiety from spiraling out of control combined with the many physical symptoms of hormones and anxiety becomes too overwhelming.
Unfortunately there isn't a set cause. It's not clear why some women experience anxiety and panic and others don't. But hormones are also the body's messengers. They tell the body to create other hormones, generate neurotransmitters, and even cope with stress. When they're fluctuating regularly, the body has to rapidly adjust, and generally the human body doesn't adjust that quickly.
Don't forget that the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause play a role as well. It's very likely to experience profound anxiety when you are:
- Not sleeping.
- Experiencing hot and cold flashes.
- Going through mood swings.
- Constantly tired.
Most people do not have to go through those symptoms when they're younger, but when they get older they are suffering regularly, and this can also cause anxiety and panic to develop.
Menopause and Anxiety
These panic attacks may start in the early stages of pre-menopause, but they can continue into menopause often because once panic attacks start, they can be difficult to stop.
Panic disorder itself isn't just characterized by panic attacks. In some cases it's characterized by a fear of panic attacks. You can have only one panic attack and never have a panic attack again, but if you continue to experience anxiety over fear of the attacks you have panic disorder.
How to Stop Panic Disorder From Menopause
Most panic attacks do not have an underlying physical cause. They're caused by your ability to cope, and you need to re-learn your coping ability and reduce your fear of the attack in order to adjust accordingly.
With menopause panic disorder, it's a little bit more complicated. You can still cope with panic attacks without any medication, even when your hormones are in flux, but you also need to be prepared for a few more setbacks. You can talk to your doctor about hormonal medications as well, but remember that panic attacks are still an anxiety related disorder and may still occur after your hormones are under control.
The best thing to do is a combination of both. Talk to your doctor about any potential hormonal medications or advice that they have on coping with menopause, and start looking for ways to control your anxiety.
I've helped many people stop their anxiety and panic altogether using my free 7 minute anxiety test. Find out more about how to cure your anxiety by taking the test now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.