If you suffer, or think you may be suffering, from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), then you likely have many symptoms that need to be managed each month. While it is important to have your hormone levels tested and discuss medicinal treatment of your symptoms, it can take several months for you and your doctor to find a treatment that works for you. Often, treatments lessen the symptoms of PMDD but do not completely get rid of them. If one of your symptoms is anxiety or panic attacks, you may want to discuss how counseling can help you manage that aspect of PMDD while you find a medication that works for you.
Help You Recognize The Signs of a Panic Attack
Most panic attacks are sudden, however, they usually reach their peak intensity about 10 minutes after starting. This means that if you know the signs and symptoms of a panic attack and are aware that you are prone to experience them at certain times during the month, you can take steps to ensure your safety and minimize their effects.
A counselor may spend time discussing your particular experiences of anxiety to help you identify some possible triggers as well as the first symptoms that you feel when you are having a panic attack. For example, you may notice intense fear first while other people notice a racing heart first. Your counselor will help you to become more aware of smaller signs of an impending panic attack such as heightened awareness of your surroundings. This way, you can stop what you are doing and make sure that you are in a safe place if and when your symptoms escalate to a full panic attack.
Teach You Methods to Cope With Panic Attacks
Once you have explored what causes your anxiety and how to identify a panic attack, your counselor will likely help you explore different methods for reducing your overall anxiety and coping with a panic attack. You might explore various breathing exercises to help prevent hyperventilation during a panic attack. You will also likely explore various relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing groups of muscles, to help you stay calm when you feel a panic attack begin. Your counselor will also help you learn to recognize when you cannot stop a panic attack and create ways to make yourself safe until your panic attack passes.
Help You Process Feelings of Guilt Associated With Panic Attacks
If you experience panic attacks because of PMDD, you may also experience many secondary emotions. You may feel out of control, which can make you more anxious, especially as your period approaches. You may also feel guilt or shame about your anxiety. Your counselor can help you identify these secondary emotions and help you learn to process them. For example, you may feel that you are a burden on those around you because of your anxiety. Your counselor can help you identify reasons why that may not be true, recognize your own self-sufficiency, and develop a method for communicating your concerns and setting boundaries with your loved ones.
Because PMDD has many symptoms, you may sometimes feel like you are out of control, and because you most likely only experience symptoms a few days each month, it may take several months to find a combination of medication and therapy that helps control your symptoms. It is important that you actively treat individual symptoms, such as anxiety, while you and your doctor explore hormonal or psychiatric medications to help treat the underlying causes of your symptoms. Reach out to a place like The Center for Family Counseling, Inc. for more information.