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Is it perimenopause, panic attacks, or a combination? Or am I just going crazy???

By Anonymous September 11, 2012 - 1:04pm
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I am 44, still having regular periods about every 30-32 days, albeit heavy ones. For the last maybe 4 years, I have experienced bouts of rapid heart rate, accompanied by feelings of heat, very mild perspiration, and an awful feeling of panic. These bouts last no longer than a few minutes, but are terrifying. They happen mostly at night, when I am sleeping. They have been diagnosed as panic attacks, but I cannot imagine feeling relaxed, or being dead asleep, and it being a panic attack so sudden like that. I get a "feeling" that comes outta nowhere, and then boom, my heart is racing and I'm freaking out.I have had a full work-up by a cardiologist (EKG, echo, stress test, holter monitor) and several full blood work-ups (thyroid etc), and the results pointed only to PVCS and anemia due to heavy periods (which has been corrected with vitamins). Both my GP and cardiologist seem unconcerned about it, so I know I am not in danger. Yet when it happens, I feel awful and it really ruins the rest of my day as I worry about whether something may be wrong, and it is being missed. Is this just part of perimenopause, could it be panic attacks and hot flashes at the same time, or I am I just going crazy???

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Hello Anonymous,

I can appreciate how frightening these episodes must be for you.
I don't think you are crazy, but not knowing what precipitates these episodes would drive anyone crazy.

Your symptoms indeed match up to those of a panic attack. It is not known what causes panic attacks, but genetics, major stress, temperament that is more susceptible to stress and certain changes in the way parts of the brain function may play a role.

Since your attacks occur at night, try avoiding caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening. See if this helps. Other lifestyle remedies offered on the Mayo Clinic website are practicing yoga, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation techniques. Getting physically active with aerobic activity may help.

Best of Luck,


September 11, 2012 - 4:22pm
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