Panic Attacks and Heart Palpitations
Other often distressing and lesser known symptoms of menopause (especially perimenopause) are panic attacks and heart palpitations.
Lots of previously confident women suddenly find they become unexpectedly anxious or suffer panic attacks for the first time in their lives.
This can go hand in hand with heart palpitations, which might manifest as a fluttering sensation in the chest, knocking or feeling like your heart is missing a beat every now and again. This in itself can set off panic attacks!
The reason for this side effect is disputed, but many experts believe it is down to the decrease in the calming hormone progesterone.
Some women also find they notice an increase in tension headaches as their hormone levels fall.
Obviously it’s important not to assume any heart-related symptoms are caused by the menopause. If you experience any cardiac symptoms seek medical assistance. It’s worth feeling a little foolish to have reassurance you that nothing life-threatening is happening to you.
Once it has been established that there are no underlying cardiac issues you should make a follow-up appointment with your doctor to discuss if there are any medications that might help.
Alternatively, you could explore relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation you could use to keep calmer generally and to use when a panic attack strikes to minimise its duration and severity.
A really unexpected side effect of the menopause is unusual skin sensations. Some women complain their skin becomes much drier, while others say their skin becomes itchy or even that they feel like ants are crawling under it. Others suffer unexplained pins and needles.
These weird and little-known sensations are caused by our old friend estrogen again – falling levels can leave your skin thinner and dryer.
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including foods like salmon, walnuts and fortified eggs, can help your skin stay healthy. Drinking plenty of water can help, too. If this doesn’t resolve the issue it might be worth considering HRT.
It’s definitely worth mentioning any skin sensations to your doctor, as they could be caused by underlying medical conditions.
In fact, it is always worthwhile mentioning any symptoms that you have to your doctor. Although the menopause does throw up some surprises, it would be dangerous to assume that any change in your health or well-being is down to the fluctuating hormones.
Your doctor will not mind reassuring you, or ordering tests to rule out any other possible medical issues. Better to be safe than sorry.