Heart Palpitations, Panic Attacks, Anxiety & Thyroid Dysfunction
I was blithely unaware of what was about to befall me after that first phantom period¹, because quite frankly, no one told me. Not my mother. Not my grandmother. Not my doctor. Not my neighbors. Not my friends – no one.
I don’t know why, I just know they didn’t.
So when those whack-a-doodle perimenopause symptoms started, I was absolutely certain that the train had left the station without me, and I was no longer going to be a productive member of society again, especially when the heart palpitations, panic attacks, and anxiety started.
I told you in my last post, and in a post before that, that low progesterone levels and adrenal fatigue are two common causes of panic attacks, heart palpitations, and anxiety in women who are going through perimenopause. If that was a revelation to you, you can also add thyroid dysfunction to that Holy Grail as well.
According to an interesting article by Dr. Christiane Northrup, MD (which you can find right here if you wish to read it for yourself), approximately 26 percent of all women in or near perimenopause are diagnosed with some kind of thyroid dysfunction. Either hyper (over-active) or hypo (under-active) thyroidism, but primarily hypo-thyroidism.
I personally suspect that the actual number is probably considerably higher just given the sheer numbers of women that I speak with who complain of many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- heart palpitations
- difficulty losing weight
- memory loss
- fuzzy thinking
- poor memory and poor concentration.
Heavy menstrual flow, irregular menstrual cycles, low libido, and fluid retention are also symptoms of low thyroid function, which are often confused with the symptoms of perimenopause. Yet another reason why women can’t figure out whether they are coming or going when they are in perimenopause, right?
Some medical professionals actually think that thyroid dysfunction is an under-diagnosed health epidemic among perimenopausal women. I can’t speak to the validity of that suggestion either way, but if my experience is worth anything, I suspect there might be some truth to it.
The larger point I wish to make today, however, is that in addition to adrenal fatigue and low progesterone levels, thyroid dysfunction, usually hypothyroidism, is also a common source of heart palpitations, panic attacks, and anxiety for women in perimenopause.
As you might expect, a discussion on hypothyroidism and how it can cause these symptoms and others, is not a subject that can be tackled in a typical 500 to 600 word blog post. It’s just too big and too complicated.
So if you will allow me, I would like to continue this discussion in my next blog post, where I would like to cover exactly how the thyroid works, and why inadequate thyroid testing could be at the root of why so many cases of hypothyroidism in perimenopausal women are potentially under diagnosed.
In the meantime, remember what I always say, ladies. You’re not going crazy. You’re really not, at least, not completely.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.
¹Phantom periods have been described as periods which come out of nowhere, but also as experiencing all of the symptoms of a normal period – cramping, bloating, and irritability – but never actually experiencing any bleeding. In my reference to a phantom period, I’m describing a menstrual period that came mid-cycle with no warning whatsoever.