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The Fight or Flight Response


The fight or flight response is a survival mechanism that has evolved over millions of years in order to protect us from getting hurt. It involves a series of bodily reflexes and reactions that happen automatically to prepare our body for action.

It energizes us to take action: either slowly, if the threat is in the future (eg. a lion roaming far in the distance will cause enough anxiety to keep away from it) or in an instant if the threat is imminent (a lion running towards us will cause immediate panic and action: fleeing).

This energy boost helps us to deal with dangerous situations or avoid them: to stand and fight or to run away.


Fight or Flight and Physical Anxiety Symptoms:-

blue button  Rapid breathing
blue button  Racing heart
blue button  Dizziness
blue button  Butterflies in tummy
blue button  Feeling sick
blue button  Needing the toilet
blue button  Dry mouth
blue button  Difficulty swallowing
blue button  Profuse sweating
blue button  Feeling jittery and on-edge


Why the Symptoms Happen:-

Our breathing becomes more rapid to get more oxygen into the blood for the major muscles (arms, chest, legs) to help us fight or flee.
Our heartbeat speeds up to get the oxygen enriched blood to the muscles more quickly.
Blood is diverted from the brain (making us light-headed and dizzy) and the stomach (causing 'butterflies').
Energy cannot be wasted processing any half-digested food in our system so we need to get rid of it quickly: either through the mouth (feelings of nausea) or the other end (wanting to go to the toilet).
Other 'energy-wasting' systems (associated with digestion, now unnecessary) are shut down eg. saliva production, giving us a dry mouth and difficulty swallowing.
We sweat more to cool down all this energy production.
The energy boost to the muscles makes them 'jumpy'/ 'jittery'/ 'jelly-like'/ on-edge ready for action.


The fight or flight reaction is responsible for all the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic that we feel. Symtoms that can be mild (if danger is not too close) or extremely intense when any danger is immediate (as in panic).

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Free Anxiety Ebook

More Resources:
Psychologist World
helpishere.co.uk

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Kindle Anxiety Book
Anxiety Self Help

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Help for Anxiety Disorders and Depression

Excessive and persistent anxiety, uncontrollable worrying, panic attacks that come out of the blue, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours, irrational fears and phobias (particularly social phobia), severe depression...

Current beliefs about these problems make them virtually impossible to cure and many people struggle with them for years. But you don't have to.

Discover a new answer. A totally new way to understand and deal with these problems that can cure them completely.  ›› More Details

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