You start off feeling anxious and you pay it no mind. However, suddenly that seemingly innocent anxiety starts to grow into a full blown panic attack. The next thing you know your left thinking about when the next panic attack is going to happen. Even worse, you start to change your behavior in an effort to thwart off another frightening experience, but the cycle continues and a panic disorder develops. Panic attacks can last from seconds to up to 40 minutes. That alone is a frightening thought. Luckily, most panic attacks are not life threatening.
It might surprise you to know that woman are more likely to suffer from a panic disorder than men. Due to imbalanced hormone levels, namely estrogen and progesterone, in perimenopause, many women experience an increase in anxiety and depression. This affects 23% of women in perimenopause and menopause. The probably of having a panic disorder may be precipitated by a former history of anxiety, pregnancy, or entrance into menopause, when hormones are on the decline.
What makes panic attacks even more problematic is that some women may not recognize they are occurring, because they already have issues with sweating or heart palpitations. Other women may develop low self-esteem or depression because they find the sweating, hyperventilation, or tremors so socially embarrassing they avoid interacting with people. A bigger issue is that anxiety is often linked to insomnia. As a panic disorder develops, the individual will lie awake, night after night, in fear of another reoccurrence. This continued lack of sleep, promotes even more emotional and physical disturbances to form. In addition, in a world where women have a thousand things to do on their plate, this just powers anxiety. If we look at why anxiety and panic attacks increase during midlife, it’s easy to see. The stress of losing fertility, watching your kids leave the nest, and a higher chance for sickness can make any woman feel overwhelmed and scared of the future.
In order to manage anxiety, there are a number of natural solutions. It has been suggested that women lower or remove caffeine and alcohol. It is important to decrease any further stimulation from an already unstable brain or fuel tremors. To decrease physical symptoms of a panic attack, one might practice relaxation techniques. Some suggested practices include yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques for calming the mind. Exercise can help with stress reduction and also help fatigue your body into better slumber. In keeping with homeopathic methods of treatment the herbs- passion flower valerian root, and St John’s Wort are known to be effective in calming anxiety. Be sure to always contact your physician or allergist before trying any new substance, even as natural as it may seem. If symptoms progress into a panic disorder, it is best to seek out a professional doctor or psychologist for support and a game plan.
Know that no matter what you are struggling with that there is always a solution. You have many talents and qualities that are admired and unique. You may not always see it, but we do. Remember that panic is temporary while greatness is endless.
Durward, E. “Panic attacks and Menopause” November 19, 2021. < https:/www.avogel.co.uk/health/menopause/symptoms/panic-attacks>
Cleveland Clinic. (November 29, 2019-Women’s Health) “Can Menopause Cause Anxiety, Depression, or Panic Attacks, what to expect and how to handle it” November 21, 2021. < https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-menopause-causing-your-mood-swings-depression-or-anxiety/ >
Wilson, D. Medical review of “What is the link between Menopause and anxiety?” by Railton, D. (May 21, 2017) < https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317552 >