ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Panic Attacks in Perimenopausal Women

Updated on August 9, 2013

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the time that happens in every woman's life prior to entering menopause. The actual age ranges from the 30's to the 50's. Some women have very little symptoms, while other women have many painful and sometimes debilitating symptoms. Sometimes those symptoms include panic attacks. Panic attacks can happen out of the blue, or in relationship to stressful events. A first time panic attack can send a woman to the hospital believing she is having a heart attack!

Perimenopause is a natural process that occurs as a woman's fertile years decline. The actual time it takes varies and can be as few as 5 years or as many as 15 years. During this time women often report feeling "hot flashes", night sweats and difficulty sleeping. Other women report increasing emotional difficulties during the week prior to and just after their menses. Many women report cessation of symptoms once they enter menopause.

What are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks can be extremely frightening, but are not life threatening. They consist of physical and emotional components. The brain reacts to subtle changes. Some research suggests Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels may rise and cause the brain to signal it's distress. This in turn causes the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to kick in. The ANS stimulation causes adrenaline and noradrenaline to be released which continues the stimulation of the ANS. The ANS has two main branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. The adrenaline and noradrenaline stimulate the sympathetic branch causing the "fight or flight" response. The natural antidote to this is the parasympathetic branch. This branch destroys the adrenaline and noradrenaline, but it takes a little time. Most panic attacks last anywhere from 10-40 minutes. Panic can't continue forever. Your body does not have an unlimited supply of adrenaline, so it must end.

What Treatments are Available?

Treatment can depend on the actual triggers for panic. For women in perimenopause, the panic attacks could be strongly linked to hormonal changes. If you experience panic attacks primarily around your menses and have been noticing other signs of menopause at this time (i.e. hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings) then you should also consult your gynecologist for a check up. Some women are able to find relief form taking birth control pills. If you do not want to take the pill due to other health concerns there are other options available. Eli Lilly, the makers of Prozac have come out with Sarafem. Sarafem is the same medication as Prozac, just packaged differently. The medication is marketed for women suffering from Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This is on the same path as perimenopausal symptoms. Women could save a lot of money by asking their physician for the generic version, fluoxetine. Most of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medications work for panic attacks.

Sometimes the reason for panic attacks in the perimenopausal phase is more than just hormonal. A lot of women have been under a lot of stress and perhaps some have had a particularly difficult time in previous years. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that has been somewhat mild in the past, may become more prominent during this time. PTSD can be caused by any event that caused intense fear, horror or actual threat to an individual's life. The effects may not show until other stressors are introduced. Therapy is usually helpful at this point.

There are different types of therapy available. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapy that encourages the person to pay attention to the negative thoughts and beliefs they hold. Then taking those negative thoughts and changing them into more positive ones. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy encourages the person to recall the past disturbing incidents and reprocess them by using either a moving light or alternating hand buzzers. Eventually, once the incident no longer holds the same intense feelings, the feelings associated with the incident can be replaced with a better, more positive affirmation. Both types of therapy are effective with PTSD and are covered by insurance.


Life Gets Better

Panic attacks feel horrible. The only person who knows what it feels like is the person experiencing the attack. Not everyone has the exact same symptoms, and trying to explain what you feel to loved ones is frustrating. See your physician and discuss your options for treatments. If you do not get relief in a couple of months, ask for a change in the treatment, be assertive about your needs. Do not let anyone make you feel like you are an "emotional female." You do not have to suffer. Keep telling yourself that there is an end to panic attacks, and you will see it happen. Be well.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Annie Messeri 

      5 years ago from Spain

      Really good - we should talk more about this.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)