Panic attacks and menopause
Menopause has 34 symptoms and one of those is panic disorder which often includes panic attacks. Not every woman will go through this, but for those women who do, it can be very invalidating.
What are panic attacks?
A panic attack is defined as the sudden feeling of intense fear or discomfort. This reaches a peak within minutes. It can include at least four of the symptoms listed below:
- Palpitations, accelerated heart rate.
- Trembling or shaking.
- Shortness of breath.
- Feelings of choking.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Nausea or abdominal distress.
- Dizziness, light-headed sensation.
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
- Fear of losing control.
- Fear of dying.
There is also something called limited-symptom panic attacks. These usually consist of fewer than four of the symptoms listed above. Even though these attacks are usually associated with physical symptoms, the difference between panic attacks and other anxiety related symptoms is the length and the intensity of the symptoms.
Panic attacks typically reach their peak level of intensity in about 10 minutes or less. They often mimic symptoms related to heart disease, thyroid problems, and breathing disorders. Because of this, people with panic disorders often go to the ER or to their GP, convinced they have a life-threatening issue.
When are panic attack more likely to happen?
Attacks can happen at any time. Sometimes you can tell when an attack is about to come over you, other times it might be unexpected. Although panic attacks are a defining characteristic of panic disorder, they are also a common occurrence of other psychological conditions. For example, someone with social anxiety might have an attack before giving a talk. Hormonal changes during menopause, could be a trigger for these attacks.
Perimenopause is often connected with mental symptoms. It is however difficult to diagnose panic disorder due to the complexity of somatic symptoms that also resemble other symptoms experienced during perimenopause such as anxiety.
Family physicians and GPs need to be aware of the increased possibility of panic disorders during this time. If it is accurately diagnosed and treated early on, the transition into menopause might be easier and have less of a negative impact on the person’s life.
Tackle the problem
The first thing to do is recognise that you might have a condition and to seek medical help. It is extremely important to talk about it with your doctor, family, and friends. Do not jump to conclusions. If you get panic attacks, it does not automatically mean you have a panic disorder. It’s important to get a proper diagnosis to best treat your panic attacks.
Click on this link to see some easy steps you can take to tackle panic attacks, and what to do when you are having one. You can also try to use my M Blend products that may help with anxiety and depression.
Panic attacks can be very scary. Although severe attacks can make you feel like you’re in danger, they pose no threat to your physical safety.