Identifying your triggers, along with breathing techniques, positive self-talk, meditating, eating a hormone-balancing diet, exercising and getting enough sleep are among the best ways to deal with panic attacks in menopause.
A panic attack often comes without warning. Many women describe it as an intense feeling of fear, anxiety and detachment — all packed together. It’s like losing total control of your car while driving it!
It can also be noticed that panic attack episodes are experienced differently from one woman to another. When caught by this overwhelming discomfort, many women get terrified! They tend to look for an instant solution. However, learning how to overcome panic attacks doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a transformational process! It requires patience for you to reach the other end of this learning process successfully. But, it will all pay off, sweetie!
One helpful way to start dealing with panic attacks is to identify your triggers. What causes these episodes to occur? It is crucial to acknowledge the triggers first. No matter how effective a breathing or meditation technique is, failing to identify your trigger means you keep it buried alive. Sooner or later, you will still see it at the surface!
Therefore, you must pinpoint what leads to your panic attack. Once you have identified it, you can start embracing new habits that will help you feel emotionally safer!
In this article, you will learn the common triggers of panic attacks. Further down, I will also share some helpful techniques you can try, so you can walk your safe path without looking back! Let’s get started! ?
What Causes Panic Attacks in Menopause?
Panic attacks in menopause can be triggered by fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormones are known to work together for mood regulation. So, the declining levels of these hormones in menopause can make us more susceptible to anxiety — which can escalate into panic attacks! ?
As we age, we may also experience life changes, such as children leaving home or parents becoming older. When these changes cannot be managed, they can cause emotional distress and result in panic attacks.
Furthermore, mental health experts believe that high cortisol (stress hormone) and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) levels can perpetuate the stress cycle. When we have high stress levels, we may experience an increased heart rate, heavier breathing, excessive sweating and high blood pressure — which can all lead to panic attack episodes.
Generally, besides the hormones, the following are the common triggers of panic attacks:
- social obligations, outings and events
- certain foods and lack of nutritional needs
- stresses related to finances and legal issues
- substance abuse
- situations that remind of traumatic events
- conflicts in close relationships
- certain medication side effects
- other mental or physical health conditions
What Does a Panic Attack Feel Like?
Panic attacks are sudden and overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. Both can cause physical and psychological symptoms such as heart palpitations, excessive sweating, shaking or trembling, chest pains, dizziness, nausea, numbness, chills and extreme anxiety.
It is important to note that panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different conditions. Both are non-interchangeable because they have different attributes. Health professionals follow standardized guidelines for their respective symptoms — to make a possible diagnosis (if any).
One of the biggest differences between an anxiety attack and a panic attack is the onset. An anxiety attack usually has a gradual onset. Also, other symptoms of anxiety usually precede the episode. An anxiety attack is usually caused by a specific situation that can be pinpointed.
On the other hand, panic attacks have a spontaneous and immediate onset. It comes out of the blue, with no gradual build up. They can start at any time, regardless of what’s going on around you! Often, it’s difficult to determine the actual cause, as it happens so abruptly.
Here’s a great video from As/Is, a community of women working to empower and inspire each other! This is a creative video that features voice-over statements from different people dealing with panic attacks. ?
How Can I Stop Panic Attacks? Try This 4-Step Technique!
- Breathe. Whether you’re in the grocery, standing in line or out in the park for a walk, panic attacks will spring out of nowhere. One thing that you can do to calm down is to breathe deeply. Concentrate and focus on slow, deep breaths. Inhale with your nose, expand your diaphragm, hold for a few seconds and breathe out with your mouth. Let go of the tension and relax your body.
2. Use positive self-talk. Coping statements or positive affirmations are among the best ways to ease panic attacks. Tell yourself “I’ll be fine” or “I’ve been here before and I was safe”. You can also say, “This will pass.” while breathing deeply.
3. Acknowledge how you feel. Sometimes, it’s best not to fight a panic attack. Instead of resisting the feelings of dread, acknowledge your feelings and let them pass. For example, if you have a panic attack before a speech, tell yourself that your fear is valid, but it will soon pass. If you’re driving and feel a sense of worry, stop by the side of the road and take a deep breath. Accept that you’re afraid, but don’t let your worries get to you. Follow the first two steps (relax) and let the panic attack take its full course. When you do this, you deprive the panic attack of what it feeds on — fear!
4. Think of the end. Experts say a panic attack will only last for 3 minutes. Use this knowledge and look forward to the end of your panic attack. Knowing that there’s an end to how you’re feeling reassures you that everything will turn out fine.
Rebekah Borucki suffers from panic attacks. In this video, she shares her personal solution to calm herself! Listen to her four-minute remedy. I hope it works for you too!
9 Natural Remedies for Panic Attacks During Menopause
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to deal with panic attacks in menopause. Eat foods that promote hormonal balance, get adequate amounts of essential nutrients, add herbs to your diet, take supplements, exercise regularly, avoid toxins, meditate and try the help of essential oils!
- Eat hormone balancing foods. Hormone imbalance contributes to panic attacks. To balance your hormones, have more adaptogenic herbs and phytoestrogenic herbs in your diet. Load up on superfoods such as broccoli, berries, quinoa and more! Eat foods rich in healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds.
2. Boost GABA! Gama Aminobutyric-Acid is an amino acid which calms your mind and body. Boost GABA by eating more vitamin B6 and magnesium-rich foods. These nutrients synthesize GABA, so they’re good for you! Foods like wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat and leafy veggies are rich sources of these nutrients. Whole grains, berries and citrus fruits are good sources too! And oh, don’t forget green and black tea – they can also help with GABA production.
3. Use herbs. Herbs such as Ashwagandha, Brahmi, Passionflower and Valerian Root are good for managing panic attacks. These herbs have anti-stress properties and relax your mind. They can also increase GABA and decrease adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that can trigger a panic attack.
4. Supplement with Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid like GABA. It helps in the production of serotonin, a happy hormone that controls mood. Serotonin has anti-anxiety and calming effects which eases a panic attack.
5. Exercise every day. Moving more boosts the production of happy hormones such as serotonin and endorphins. These two hormones have calming and relaxing effects.
6. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes you feel restless and agitated during the day. If you have panic attacks, it can make the situation worse. For this reason, try to get 8 hours of sleep a day and you’re good to go!
7. Avoid smoking, excessive coffee and alcohol. Chemicals such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol trigger panic attacks. These three are stimulants that rile up your central nervous system. As a result, your body becomes hyperactive, stimulating a panic attack.
8. Bring some essential oil with you! Essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, chamomile and rose geranium are best for managing panic attacks. They have soothing and muscle-relaxing effects that can calm your nerves. Carry a small bottle of your favorite essential oil, apply some on your hands and breathe in!
9. Meditate. Sometimes, you need to take some time for yourself. Meditation is a simple way to free your mind from all the worries and stress of life. Not to mention, you can do it anywhere. Get comfortable, bring your attention to yourself and focus on your breathing. Meditating even for 10 minutes can make a huge difference!
Aside from these do-it-yourself remedies, you can also try acupuncture! This ancient healing technique helps you calm down by targeting energy points. Acupuncture also has a sedative effect on your central nervous system — making you feel more relaxed and focused! And yes, you already know it involves needles, but it doesn’t hurt! It’s just a sweet little sting. ?
Can Adrenal Fatigue Cause Panic Attacks?
Yes, when your adrenal glands are not functioning well, it is possible to result in panic attacks. The adrenal glands produce cortisol and adrenaline, which both contribute to anxiety — and, in turn, may lead to panic attacks when not managed.
The adrenal glands are tiny organs that sit on top of your kidneys. Despite their small size, they are one of the most helpful organs in the body!
Your adrenal glands regulate stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine. These hormones tell your body when and how to react to stress! They also send out signals when your stressor has been resolved and if it’s time to calm down and relax.
Today, we live in such a fast-paced world, full of stress and worries. This actually overworks our adrenal glands! As a result, we react to stressors poorly and develop mood conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks.
The good thing is, we can always support our adrenals. By following my 9 tips above, you can maintain the health of these tiny glands! Here are more things you can do:
- Do light exercises to increase blood flow to your adrenals!
- Go slow and learn to delegate!
- Eat more selenium, vitamin D and vitamin B12-rich foods. These nutrients are great antioxidants!
- Reduce or eliminate sugar!
- Do something relaxing every day!
Emotional Freedom Technique for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment method used to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. It is a self-help therapy with over 100 studies proving its efficacy. EFT mainly involves stimulation of acupressure points through tapping, applying pressure and rubbing.
EFT is a great way to relax and calm your mind! There’s no ideal way to do EFT, but some start with positive self-talk before tapping into their energy points. Others tap their energy points without any affirmations. Did you know that we have 9 different energy points in the body? Follow the link and find out their exact locations!
Whatever way or order, many of those who have a panic attack find EFT useful. EFT calms your central nervous system. It also regulates the system’s reaction to stressors, helping you manage a panic attack!
Jessica Ortner’s video shows the nine tapping points and some positive affirmations you can use while doing EFT. You’ll also learn the techniques to control stress and panic attacks better (4:09):
Also, fear and anxiety thrive when you isolate yourself. The support of your loved ones can make a huge difference in your journey. Sometimes, love is all we need! ?
Do Panic Attacks Need Medical Attention?
In some cases, panic attacks need medical attention. Conventional medicine uses a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications for panic attacks. CBT helps identify thinking patterns and behaviors which trigger your panic attacks.
There are three components to CBT, called the three Rs!
- The first one is “relabeling”, which teaches you how to accept frightening situations.
- The second is “relaxation”, which makes use of proper diaphragmatic breathing.
- The third one is “repeat exposure”, where a therapist gradually exposes you to panic triggers until you can cope with them.
CBT, in combination with certain medications, can help ease panic attacks. Examples of medications used are serotonin boosters, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and mild tranquilizers. However, the use of medications usually comes with side effects. Therefore, you must take precautions if you opt for medications. They do help, but they may not address the real underlying causes of your panic attack.
Panic attacks are real, but it’s never too late to gain control of your life! Self-evaluation is a good way to reflect on every aspect of life. Try to overcome your fears by being open and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel safe. More importantly, focus on good things! If we are capable of thinking about what could possibly go wrong, we are also capable of looking forward to things that could go right! ?
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