Panic disorder and menopause

panic attack

Panic disorder or panic attacks are an unnerving and an upsetting experience. Women are twice as likely to suffer from panic disorder as men. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur during the perimenopause and menopause transition.

A panic attack can persist between 10 to 40 minutes and the symptoms of a panic attack can be both physical and psychological and include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion/Poor concentration
  • Paralysing terror

My Panic Disorder and Menopause

There was a boardroom full of Programme Directors waiting for me to enter and present my update. Nothing new for me. But this time as I was waiting outside, my heart was racing and my mind went blank! I was having a panic attack…

I took deep breaths to calm myself as I heard my name being called to enter the boardroom. Entering the room I took the papers out of my folder, started to present the update and apologised saying ” I had a cold”.

The truth, my self-confidence was shattered as a consequence of the panic attack. Which I now know was due to my hormone decline and fluctuations.

What causes panic disorder?

Our perimenopause and menopause transition can act as a trigger for our panic disorder as oestrogen and progesterone work together to regulate our mood.

As our hormones decline and fluctuate it means we are more susceptible to anxiety and panic attacks.

Oestrogen inhibits the production of the “stress hormone,” cortisol. As a result of our declining oestrogen, the level of cortisol rises, raising our blood pressure and blood sugar, contributing to panic disorder.

Oestrogen also has an important effect on serotonin which is a neurotransmitter and is responsible for balancing our moods. It helps to regulate the production of serotonin. The drop in serotonin levels that accompanies low oestrogen can then cause unstable moods and, as a result, anxiety and panic. Read my blog on mood swings for more detail.

In addition, a decline in progesterone can also contribute to panic disorder. It has a calming and soothing effect on the brain and low levels of progesterone can make the brain and body more susceptible to anxiety.

During our MidLife transition the natural order of our lives may change along with our bodies. We may encounter a busy and stressful work schedule. Our children may be leaving home and we may also need to become carers for elderly parents. All these factors combined with our changing bodies can trigger panic disorder.

How to minimise panic disorder

Suffering from a panic disorder can be frustrating and uncomfortable experience, especially if our day is full of business meetings and family commitments.

Using my MidLife Resilience System will help us to manage the occurrence of panic attacks as we move through our perimenopause and menopause transition. The key elements used are food, movement and self-care.


  • Food – Have a balanced meal plan which includes protein, healthy fats, starchy vegetables, whole grains, colourful fruit and vegetables. Also do not leave more than 4 hours in-between meals as being hungry will increase our levels of stress and fatigue.
  • Probiotics – To nourish the brain-gut loop for neurotransmitter release and mood balance.
  • Magnesium – Plays a role in mood regulation. Its deficiency can make women more prone to developing panic attacks.
  • Zinc – Deficiency may cause emotional imbalance, including panic attacks, irritability, and depression.
  • Sugar, caffeine & alcohol – Limit the intake of these. As they can act as triggers for our mood levels by increasing cortisol and brain impact.
  • Water –  To stay hydrated drink at least 2 litres as our brain needs it to function and clear “brain fog”.


  • Move – Daily movement is a happy hormone producer. It uses up any excess energy, cortisol and helps with hormone regulation.
  • Calm – Reduce stress and create time for yourself to feel more grounded.
  • Sleep – A regular sleep schedule is important for panic disorder treatment as poor sleep can trigger and intensify panic attacks.


To summarise it’s MidLife-Body: by taking care of ourselves and eating nutrient rich foods for hormone and neurotransmitter production, which are necessary for mood regulation and to promote hormonal balance.

With MidLife-Self-Care: by implementing good daily routines to help strengthen our mind and distract it from anxious thoughts. To help us feel more in control over our emotional health, and give our body the rest it needs to function properly.

Watch my Coaching Boosts on the Women in Business MidLife-Channel for more detail along with the other “40 things to accept over 40”.


My vision is that

“All MidLife Women in Business understand why their bodies are changing so they can manage their PeriMenopause-Menopause-PostMenopause Transition with confidence alongside leading their business or corporate career”.

It’s important to remember that our bodies start to change as we approach the age of 40. We must take ownership and understand why and how our body is changing as there are “40 things to accept over 40”!

I specialise in coaching Women in Business to understand why their bodies are changing. Providing my “MidLife Resilience System” so women can take ownership and manage the impact of the “40 things to accept over 40” alongside leading their business or corporate career.

Book a complimentary MidLife-Coaching Session including a preview of my Women in Business MidLife Club which launches in November.