Panic disorder and Menopause
Panic disorder during menopause can become a very debilitating symptom for many women. Sometimes, for apparently no reason at all, a woman´s heart speeds, her breathing quickens, sweat beads on the brow, and she experiences rushes of energy, as though her “fight-or-flight” instinct has been activated. Because of the hormonal fluctuations occurring inside the menopausal woman´s bodies, several physical and psychological effects take place, such as panic disorder.
About Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder, which are the most common type of psychological disorders, characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. These episodes are often referred to as “panic attacks.” The episodes may resemble a heart attack. They may strike at any time and occur without a known reason.
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
There are some common symptoms of panic disorder that can help women identify this disorder. Many of the below symptoms peak and begin to dissipate within 10 minutes of the onset of a panic attack, but others may remain for longer.
Causes of Panic Disorder
It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of panic disorder, because so many factors are involved (emotional and physical problems, traumatic events, and so forth). But because women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder as men, most commonly during PMS, pregnancy, and menopause, doctors have come to conclude that hormones are typically the underlying cause.
During menopause, the vital female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone rapidly decline, which has a major affect on women’s mood as well as their bodies. Low estrogen can cause panic disorder during menopause for two reasons: declining level of estrogen and declining levels of progesterone.
- Estrogen has an inhibitive affect on the stress-hormone cortisol. When estrogen is too low, levels of cortisol rise, raising blood pressure and blood sugar, and causing panic disorder. Estrogen also has an important affect on a brain chemical called serotonin, which is responsible for happy, balanced moods. Estrogen helps to stimulate the production and transportation of serotonin around the body, and prevents its break down. The drop of serotonin that accompanies low estrogen levels during menopause causes an unstable mood and, as a result, anxiety.
- Finally, hormonal fluctuations during menopause cause panic disorder due to drops in the hormone progesterone. Progesterone has been shown to have a calming, soothing affect on the brain, and low levels of progesterone (in combination with the hormonal changes described above) can cause panic disorder.
Other Causes of Panic Disorder
During menopause, the hormonal changes described above leave women even more susceptible to other causes of panic disorder that come from their lifestyle or stressful life events.
- Caffeine contains dopamine, a chemical that causes the jitters, thus worsening sensations of panic.
- Alcohol raises certain mood-affecting chemicals in the blood and also affects the nervous system with its addictive elements. Alcohol addiction is often associated with panic disorder.
Risk factors for panic disorder:
- Genetics: a family history of mental illnesses will put women at an increased risk for panic disorder during menopause.
- Brain chemistry: Traumatic psychological events or simply an unusual sensitivity can make some women more responsive to the changes occurring in their bodies during menopause, meaning they will be more prone to the causes of panic disorder described above.
- Environmental factors: a stressful work schedule, death in the family, nicotine and bad sleeping patterns can lead to panic disorder.
- Nutrition: poor nutrition (especially excessive consumption of sugars and fats) can cause panic disorder by creating sudden bursts of energy followed by severe slumps of exhaustion, leaving the body weak and emotionally susceptible.
- Changing roles: During menopause, a woman’s lifestyle changes just as rapidly as her body. Her children leave home, she becomes infertile, and other traumatic life events can occur like the death of parents or a spouse. All of these factors can also lead to panic disorder.
Treatments for Panic Disorder
To treat panic disorder in the healthiest manner possible, it´s important to explore treatment options that get to the root of the problem without leaving women with harmful side effects.
That´s why most doctors recommend beginning with lifestyle changes, then moving onto alternative medicines, and if nothing else seems to be working, look to drugs or surgery to alleviate the symptoms of panic disorder.
Lifestyle changes are the least obtrusive form of treating panic disorder. A woman who suffers from panic disorder should first make sure her diet is healthy and high in proper nutrients.
It´s also a good idea to make sure that she is getting proper exercise and sleeping the required seven to eight hours a night.
Alternative medicines are the next step on the path to treatment. These often involve herbs, vitamins, and supplements. It´s important to realize that there are some alternative medicines sometimes called natural remedies that will treat the symptoms but not the underlying cause of panic disorder.
Because panic disorder is causes largely by hormonal imbalance during menopause, find herbs that help to stimulate natural hormonal production. Another form of alternative medicine that can help alleviate panic disorder is acupuncture or massage.
Treatment for Menopausal Symptoms:
- Lifestyle Changes
- The Manna Menopause Support Supplement, with 100% natural phyto-estrogens.