Menopause And Panic Attacks What Is The Relation
Because of the changes to the body that occur during menopause, such as the loss of fertility, some women may feel sad or depressed. Others may be relieved that they are no longer afraid of becoming pregnant. Furthermore, throughout the menopausal years, women may experience a variety of significant life changes. Their children may leave home, and their parents or partners may develop health problems as a result of aging. All of these causes can contribute to increased anxiety.
Anxiety might even be increased by hormonal changes that occur during menopause. Changes in hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, can have an impact.
Headaches And Panic Disorder
Most people experience headaches from time to time. However, research has shown that people diagnosed with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders are more likely to experience frequent headaches than the general population.
Many people with panic disorder will experience a headache right after having a panic attack.
Those with panic disorder have been found to suffer from more severe headaches and migraines. Research has also indicated that there are certain risk factors that influence the occurrence of panic disorder and headaches.
For instance, the incidences of headaches and migraines have been found to be even higher among female panic disorder sufferers. Those who have a co-occurring diagnosis of agoraphobia and/or depression also experience more frequent headaches and migraines.
What Is Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is when youâve had at least two panic attacks and constantly worry and change your routine to keep from having another one. Itâs a type of anxiety disorder.
One in 10 adults in the U.S. have a panic attack each year. About a third of people have one in their lifetime. But most of them donât have panic disorder. Only about 3% of adults have it, and itâs more common in women than in men.
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Panic Attacks I Turned My Mental Health Crisis Into A Mental Health Triumph
“Although it’s taken me a long time I have learned I am a strong person who has the potential to help others.”
You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you’re worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia. See our pages on types of phobia for more information.
“I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I just wanted to get out, to go somewhere else, but I couldn’t because I was on a train.”
Can Menopause Cause Anxiety Or Panic Attacks
Transitioning into menopause can often give rise to unpredictable emotions such as anxiety and panic attacks. The premenopause, or the period preceding up to menopause, is generally marked by several symptoms that can affect women to varying degrees. These symptoms are produced by sudden changes in your bodys hormone levels, particularly the reduction of hormones that are important for reproductive health. A womans body goes through major physical and emotional changes during premenopause, which can, understandably, lead to mental health issues.
To find more about the connection between menopause and anxiety keep reading the article below.
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A Natural Part Of The Fight
Anxiety is a natural reaction, and in small doses, its actually healthy. It is thought that some of the symptoms of anxiety including nausea developed to tell your brain that there was something dangerous or new in the vicinity so that you would make a smart decision regarding your next action.
When you are under stress but not facing any present danger, nausea can be especially distressing. When faced with stress, the body goes into the “fight or flight mode,” triggering the autonomic nervous system specifically activating the sympathetic nervous system and inhibiting the parasympathetic nervous system.
This action releases a hormone called epinephrine, which is often referred to as “adrenaline.” Additional stress may trigger other adrenal-related hormones. These hormones alter the stomach lining and food digestion take blood away from the digestive system and cause hyperventilation , dizziness, and more.
Stress can also cause muscle tension in your abdomen, and that added tension may squeeze your stomach in a way that leads to nausea. The gut also has an abundance of neurotransmitter receptors and is highly connected to the brain. It is possible that the way anxiety alters neurotransmitter levels in the brain may affect the gut as well.
Finally, during fight or flight, digestion is inhibited, which may affect how you process food and stomach acid and may lead to nausea.
Causes Of Nausea From Panic Attacks
The first thing to note about nausea and all panic attack symptoms is that those with panic attacks tend to exhibit “monitoring” behaviors, which means that they are more prone to noticing physical sensations that may be very weak that others may not notice. So while nausea may be severe to you, it may have been weak to someone without panic.
Nausea can also be caused by issues unrelated to panic that tend to occur at the same time, and they can be secondary symptoms caused by other issues with panic attacks. Examples of nausea causes include:
Combine all of these issues, and it’s not much of a surprise that panic attacks lead to nausea. In rare cases, they may even lead to vomiting, although this tends to be uncommon.
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How To Handle A Panic Attack
Professor Paul Salkovskis, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
“Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “Tell yourself that the symptoms you’re experiencing are caused by anxiety.”
He says don’t look for distractions. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, it’s important to try to remain in the situation until the anxiety has subsided.”
“Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen.”
As the anxiety begins to pass, start to focus on your surroundings and continue to do what you were doing before.
“If youre having a short, sudden panic attack, it can be helpful to have someone with you, reassuring you that it will pass and the symptoms are nothing to worry about,” says Professor Salkovskis.
How To Help Someone Having A Panic Attack
Seeing a friend or a loved one experience a panic attack can be a frightening experience. It can also be challenging to feel powerless to help that person and to watch them suffer. While youre unlikely to be able to stop your loved ones panic attack in its tracks, there are things you can do and say to help them through the experience.
Primarily, it is important to stay calm, patient, and understanding. Help your friend wait out the panic attack by encouraging them to take deep breaths in for four seconds and out for four seconds. Stay with them and assure them that this attack is only temporary and they will get through it. You can also remind them that they can leave the environment they are in if they would feel more comfortable elsewhere and try to engage them in light-hearted conversation.
Once the panic attack is over and the person has returned to a calm state, encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional at their earliest convenience, if they havent already. You can help them further by assisting with the search for a licensed professional, researching coping techniques online, and looking for self-help books that might be useful.
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How Long Does The Menopausal Anxiety Last
The symptoms of premenopausal anxiety should come to an end once the premenopause period is over. The length of the premenopause period can differ from person to person depending on various factors. According to a research, many factors, including the age and weight at menopause, the age at sexual maturity, maternal age, oral contraceptive use, irregular menstrual cycle, number of pregnancies, body mass index, tobacco and alcohol use, physical activity, involuntary early menopause, serum lead levels, unsaturated fats consumption, socioeconomic status, and level of education, have also been shown to influence the age of menopause.
Panic Attacks And Panic Disorders
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks episodes of sudden fear and feelings of danger or impending doom, along with physical symptoms. The illness may be accompanied by depression or other serious conditions because the effects on peoples lives are not just limited to the attack itself. Some people avoid everyday activities such as driving or shopping, for fear of experiencing a panic attack in a potentially dangerous setting. Others avoid any other environment where they had such an attack in the past.
Panic disorders symptoms include: Repeated, unexpected panic attacks episodes of sudden fear and feelings of danger or impending doom, along with physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, lightheadedness or dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, feelings of imminent danger, shaking or trembling, choking, fear of dying, sweating, feelings of unreality, numbness or tingling, hot flashes or chills, and a feeling of going crazy. Panic attacks strike without warning and usually last 15-30 minutes. Since many panic disorder symptoms mimic those found in illnesses such as heart disease, thyroid problems and breathing disorders, people with panic disorder often make multiple visits to emergency rooms or doctors’ offices, convinced they have a life-threatening illness.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a sudden attack of overwhelming fear or anxiety. Panic attacks are not life-threatening, but they interfere with your quality of life and mental well-being.
People who have regular or frequent panic attacks may have a panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder. But an isolated panic attack can happen to anyone, even without a panic disorder diagnosis.
- Feeling of squeezing or, says Dr. Miller, like an elephant sitting on your chest.
- Achy or burning sensation, like heartburn.
Panic attacks often cause:
- Sharp or stabbing pain .
- Heart racing or chest discomfort thats hard to describe.
Heart attacks tend to happen after physical strain or exertion a sign not found in panic attacks. A heart attack might happen after shoveling snow or walking up a long flight of stairs, Dr. Miller says. But you wouldnt have a panic attack after exercise unless there was an emotional stress trigger with it.
But what if the symptoms hit you at night? Both panic attacks and heart attacks can wake you from sleep. But theres a key difference: People who have nighttime, or nocturnal, panic attacks usually have daytime panic attacks, too.
So if you wake up with chest pain or other symptoms, and you dont have a history of panic attacks, that might be a sign of a heart attack.
How long it lasts
Panic attack symptoms last a few minutes or up to an hour. Then, the symptoms disappear, and you feel better. But a heart attack wont let up.
Social Anxiety Disorder Or Social Phobia
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This intense anxiety may lead to avoiding social situations. Performance anxiety is the most common type of social phobia. Social phobia currently is estimated to be the third most common psychiatric disorder in the United States.
Social anxiety disorder symptoms: Extreme fear of being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. Specific SAD symptoms include blushing, sweating, trembling, nausea, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and headaches. Some people may have an intense fear of a single social or performance circumstance such as giving a speech, talking to a salesperson or making a phone call, but be perfectly comfortable in other social settings. Others may have a more generalized form of SAD, ranging from such behaviors as becoming anxious in a variety of routines, to clinging behavior and throwing tantrums. This intense anxiety may lead to avoiding social situations.
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Hospital Admission And Medical Costs
A 1996 study found that people who have panic attacks or panic disorder have a much higher rate of medical services utilization, along with higher medical costs. For instance, experiencing chest pain might lead you to believe you’re having a heart attack, which could lead to hospital admission.
This elevated use of medical services can be expensive over time, for both the patient and the medical system. However, more recent demographic studies are required to update whether this is still the case for people who have panic attacks today.
Who Is More Likely To Have Anxiety Or Migraines
People with migraines are more likely to have anxiety and depression. When you have all three, it usually starts with anxiety, then migraines kick in, and then depression shows up. For people who dont typically get as many headaches, anxiety increases the odds of getting them more often. Things that may contribute to anxiety headaches include:
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Can Anxiety Cause Shortness Of Breath
Certain anxiety disorders can cause feelings of shortness of breath.
General anxiety increases your respiration rate, causing you to breathe more rapidly than usual. This faster breathing, also called hyperventilation, isn’t the same as shortness of breath, however.
Shortness of breath feels like a tightening in your chest and often comes with trouble breathing. It’s not a common symptom of general anxiety.
However, similar to feelings of chest pain, shortness of breath is associated with panic attacks and panic disorder, a specific type of anxiety disorder.
Since it can be a sign of heart attack or another life-threatening condition, unexplained shortness of breath is a medical emergency. Whether you have a history of panic attacks or not, you should go to the emergency room if you’re experiencing sudden and/or severe shortness of breath.
Chills Or Hot Flashes
During a panic attack, blood is taken away from areas where its not needed, such as the fingers, toes, and skin, and sent to big muscles that are important for fighting and fleeing. This can result in the skin turning pale and cold, especially the skin covering the hands and feet. Hot flashes may also occur, but typically for a shorter duration during the abrupt and initial onset of panic.
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Panic Attack Causes And Complications
What causes panic attacks? Some people experience panic attack symptoms when faced with something they fear, such as spiders or elevators. Others experience them without warning. Sometimes, panic attacks occur upon waking from sleep .
Panic attacks themselves can be so terrifying that people may start fearing the next attack and avoiding situations they think might trigger one. This means they have developed a condition known as panic disorder.
Roughly one in 50 to 75 people develops panic disorder, according to Northern Illinois Universitys Department of Psychology. This more serious condition involves a series of unexpected and severe panic attacks that interferes with a persons emotional life, relationships, and ability to work.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you’ve experienced a panic attack, and especially if you’re dreading another panic attack or changing your behavior to avoid one, it could be worth talking to your primary care provider. They may refer you to a psychiatrist for diagnosis or a psychotherapist for treatment.
Panic attacks are a symptom of a variety of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobia-related disorders, social anxiety disorder, and more. It’s important to get the correct diagnosis so you can seek the most effective treatment for you.
Your healthcare provider will discuss your treatment options with you and help rule out other conditions.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing panic attacks, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
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Panic Disorder Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors donât know exactly what causes panic disorder, but one possibility is that the brains of people who have it may be especially sensitive in responding to fear.
A few things can make you more likely to have panic disorder:
- Someone in your family has it
- High levels of stress
- Frequent negative feelings or trouble dealing with negative emotions
Using drugs or alcohol to try to deal with panic disorder can make the symptoms worse.
People with this disorder often also have major depression. But there is no evidence that one condition causes the other.
Fears Of Dying Or Losing Control
It’s not surprising that the experience of having a panic attack is often terrifying. As the attack escalates, you may worry about your own personal safety and experience a fear of dying. Additionally, panic attacks can make you feel as though you’re going to lose control or possibly “go insane.”
Such thoughts and fears often increase the intensity of the attack. Do your best to acknowledge that they are a result of panic, which often times is an effective first step to quelling the attack. The simplest strategy is deep, focused breathing, but working with a healthcare professional will help you identify personalized strategies to best manage your condition.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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