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Panic Attacks

I am a 29 year old female with Premature Ovarian Failure that was diagnosed approximately 2 years ago.  I had never had any kind of anxiety or panic attacks.  However, right before my POF diagnosis, I started having severe heart palpitations and feeling of un-reality.  I became afraid of going places because I was worried another one of those "feelings" would happen again.  After my diagnosis, I was put on HRT (hormone replacment therapy) by my endocrinologist.  This seemed to help but the panic attacks never went away.  As long as I'm busy they don't seem to bother me.
     In July I went to NIH (National Institutes of Health) to participate in some POF protocols.  In order to do this, they required me to stop my HRT for at least two weeks prior to my arrival.  I did this.  The panic attacks seemed to worsen.  While there, I had a Psych evaluation as part of the protocol and they diagnosed a panic disorder.  My questions are, has there been any evidence to link panic disorder with a lack of estrogen? and what kind of treatment can I do without taking any meds.  I take estrogen and progesterone and would not like to add more medicine to my regimen.  I am in Boca Raton, Florida and are there any professionals who deal strictly with panic disorders?  Your help will be greatly appreciated.
Thank You,

Jami
2 Responses
Avatar universal
Dear Jami,

There have been research studies in the past that showed association of panic attacks with decreased levels of estrogen in women. In an article printed in Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 41(9): 633-9 1996 Sep, the authors concluded that the brains in women have been shown to be an estrogen target organ. It is proposed that whenever brain estrogen levels fall below the minimum brain estrogen requirement, for whatever reason and at whatever age, brain center dysfunction may ensue and may cause symptoms of anxiety.

HRT is recommended for this type of anxiety disorder (secondary to hypoestrogenemia). However, you may also benefit from cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.

We are currently located in Detroit, Michigan and unfortunately, I am unable to give you a referral in your area of a specialist solely dealing with panic disorder. You may want to contact the American Psychiatric Association as a resource.

I wish you the best,

HFHS MD - RG

*Keyword: Panic, hypoestrogen
Avatar universal
I've suffered from panic attacks for 10 years. From what your describing, some type of hormonal problem likely caused your first panic attack and you're now caught in a vicous cycle. What I mean, is you're now afraid of the panic attack itself (no real danger). I don't believe you have a genetic predisposition because of your POF etc.. If your hormone levels are normal (if they're not that could definitly be a problem), I'd look into seeing a therapist who specializes in panic disorders. Also, focus on your breathing when you feel the panic, because what your really experiencing is hyperventilation (too much oxygen in your blood). To stop this, breath in from your upper chest slowly then hold your breath a moment and exhale slowly (counting from 7-10 on the inhale and exhale). If your panic gets real bad then use the old paper bag! Keep in mind you won't die from it and it will go away. Try to get control of it early because it will be easier to conquer. If you have any further questions you can email me at ***@****. Thanks!
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