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There are several reasons why some women have panic attacks, which are also know as anxiety attacks. One of the reasons is a temporary imbalance due to the hormones that are affected by menopause. Mainly these are estrogen and progesterone, but sometimes also testosterone which affects the sex drive of women (commonly known as a male hormone but also present in women). Once any of these hormones is out of balance, the symptoms of menopause can start quite quickly.
Other symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and headaches as well, but the anxiety for some women is their worst nightmare. It can come at the most inappropriate times as well, such as while doing the shopping and suddenly the overwhelming feeling of being out of control can overtake you. With some women there is also dizziness, but not always. What causes this sudden anxiety?
In perimenopause, or the beginning of menopause symptoms, the hormone estrogen can be dominant as the progesterone starts to decline. This adds to the anxiety response as normally the progesterone hormone starts to phase in during the second half of a woman’s cycle, but with perimenopause this doesn’t happen (especially when a period is missed) and the calming effect of the progesterone is never received. With the dominant estrogen, stress levels keep to a higher level and many times the stress of daily life adds to this effect. This can build up over time as well, and the anxiety attacks are the body’s normal response to this stressful time.
Another source of anxiety is the adrenal glands, especially when they start to malfunction due to hormone imbalance. The adrenals glands are small glands that are situated near the top of the kidneys, and secrete the chemicals cortisol and epinephrine. These are commonly referred to as stress hormones, and when the adrenal glands aren’t functioning properly they can go into overdrive causing severe anxiety.
The best way to try and keep these symptoms in check is to first of all take care of your self, avoid caffeine and too much sugar in the diet, also avoid fatty or acidic foods and eat more soy instead. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise three times or more per week can have great benefits too, as this reduces stress and increases the “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine in the brain. Also planning ahead when you know you will be in a stressful situation is helpful; you can mentally prepare yourself and thus minimize your stress levels ahead of time! Meditation, aromatherapy, and massage are all very good ways to reduce stress and anxiety as well. Find a good herbal remedy such as black cohosh, ginger root, or some good chamomile tea and you may find your anxiety levels back to normal in no time.