Menopause

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Hold That Pause

Heart Palpitations & Panic Attacks in Perimenopause

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A woman breathing into a paper bag during an anxiety attack.Last month I talked considerably about anxiety during perimenopause, a common and worrisome symptom for many women. This month, I thought I would extend the conversation to include heart palpitations and panic attacks, two other symptoms of perimenopause, which, along with the anxiety, are remarkably common as well.  

The actual source of anxiety, panic attacks, and heart palpitations during perimenopause, for reasons I still cannot comprehend, continues to remain a mystery to far too many physicians. Some even suggest that if a woman is experiencing these symptoms in perimenopause, it is more likely she simply had an emotional proclivity to them prior to perimenopause. 

To which I say: preposterous.  

There are actually a variety of reasons why women in perimenopause might be experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, and heart palpitations. Adrenal imbalance, thyroid issues, and an imbalance of serotonin levels can all contribute. However, as we learned last month from Dr. Jennifer Landa with the physician’s group, Body LogicMD, it can also be as simple as low progesterone levels, which subsequently create high estrogen levels, also called estrogen dominance.  

According to Dr. Landa, progesterone, which tends to drop quite precipitously during perimenopause, is a woman’s calming hormone, and without adequate levels, women can feel “overwhelmed and easily stressed. In many women, this leads to anxiety issues, including tension headaches, palpitations, and digestive issues, and in some cases, even full blown panic disorder.”

Granted, not all symptoms of perimenopause are directly related to low progesterone levels. However, many women find that by simply addressing low progesterone during perimenopause, they are able to sleep better, feel less agitated and anxious, and subsequently, are better able to address other issues such as adrenal imbalance and problems with their thyroid function, which may be contributing to or exacerbating the symptoms.

Personally, I am of the opinion that these three symptoms–anxiety, panic attacks, and heart palpitationstend to be the most bothersome for women, and are also at the root of why so many women feel like they are going crazy during perimenopause. 

And let’s face it, when you’re experiencing anxiety, heart palpitations, and hyper-ventilating from full blown panic attacks, it’s easy to feel you might be going just a wee bit crazy. On top of it all, the emotional duress resulting from the symptoms tends to make them feel worse, which in turn creates more emotional duress, and the cycle just spirals out of control.    

I’ve been there.

If you are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, and heart palpitations and feel you might also be going through perimenopause, it is important that you seek the help of a competent physician. If your physician is not responsive to your needs, don’t be afraid to find another one.

Bioidentical progesterone can be a helpful first step. However, it’s also important to address any other health issues which might be compounding the symptoms as well.  

And above all else, ladies, remember: you’re not going crazy.

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.

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Tags: Perimenopause

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.

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