Women can go through a wide variety of feelings and emotions during perimenopause and menopause. One that is not uncommon and can be especially unsettling is a feeling of doom.
What is a feeling of doom?
A feeling of doom or dread is an impression or sensation that something terrible or tragic is going to happen. The feeling may develop gradually or suddenly, depending on the circumstances. If you are facing a dangerous or life-threatening event, a feeling of doom is not unusual. In rare cases, a sense of impending doom may be an early indication of a medical emergency.
However, a feeling that something awful is going to occur when you are otherwise in a safe place with no reason to fear harm is not typical. Sometimes such doomsday feelings occur during a panic attack or are associated with anxiety or depression.
How is a feeling of doom associated with menopause?
For some women, the decline of progesterone and estrogen seem to work together to create the possibility of experiencing a feeling of doom. Progesterone has a natural ability to relax and calm the body, while estrogen regulates cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
As levels of progesterone and estrogen decline, the relaxation advantage also fades while cortisol levels rise. High cortisol triggers the area of the brain known as the amygdala, which is the fear center. This combination of events can contribute to the feeling of doom.
Another factor may be that menopause can arrive when women are experiencing numerous midlife stressors, such as taking care of aging parents, challenges with teenagers, divorce, grown kids returning home, or financial worries. These can fuel feelings of despair and doom.
How to manage the feeling of doom naturally
You can help beat any feelings of disaster and doom by focusing on ways to relax, reduce stress, and bring more calm into your life. Here are some examples of actions you can incorporate into your lifestyle.
- Practice meditation/mindfulness. Many studies have looked at the impact of meditation on relieving anxiety, panic, and depression. In a systemic review of 209 studies involving more than 12,000 participants, the reviewers concluded that mindfulness based therapy is an effective way to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Here are some suggestions on how to use meditation to help with feelings of doom and panic.
- Take time for yourself. Take breaks during the day to recenter yourself, calm your mind, and take care of yourself. Have a cup of tea in a quiet room, walk in nature, practice deep breathing or a brief meditation, or listen to music.
- Ask for help. If there are tasks, events, or situations that you need assistance with to reduce the stress in your life, ask for help from family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors. You don’t need to carry the burden alone.
- Seek support. Reach out to other women who are in perimenopause and menopause and who share your fears, thoughts, and experiences. You can learn so much from the wisdom of other women who are in a similar situation.
- Try deep breathing. Focusing on your breath can help calm your mind and thoughts. Here are some easy guidelines from the National Health Service that you can practice when you feel impending doom.
- Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose
- Breathe out slowly and gently through your mouth
- Count from one to five on each inhale and each exhale
- Continue this process for several minutes.
- Listen to soothing music. Choose relaxing music, perhaps something instrumental and peaceful. Wear earphones to help you focus on the music and block out distractions.
- Seek out the positive. Read inspiring poetry, books, or essays, watch entertaining videos (some people relax with kitten, puppy, or nature videos), or watch uplifting movies.
When to call your doctor
Feelings of impending doom can typically be managed naturally. However, if you find yourself overwhelmed by these feelings and they are affecting your daily life, contact your physician so you can discuss alternative ways to alleviate the situation.
Living with a feeling of doom can be life disruptive. Such feelings can be faced and alleviated if you seek help from others and practice techniques that allow you to tap into your inner calm.