The Fight-or-Flight Response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful threat.
The reaction begins in the amygdala, which triggers a neural response in the hypothalamus. The initial reaction is followed by activation of the pituitary glands and secretion of the hormone corticotropin. The adrenal gland is activated almost simultaneously and releases the neurotransmitter epinephrine. The release of chemical messengers results in the production of the hormone cortisol, which effectively increases blood pressure, blood sugar, and suppresses the immune system.
The purpose of the Fight-or-Flight Response is to quickly boost energy with the threat of danger looming on the horizon.
- Source: Fight-or-Flight Response
Here is the process at work when the fight-or-flight response is activated:
- Something happens within the external environment that is perceived as being dangerous or threatening in some way.
- The brain processes the signal beginning within the Amygdala, and then the Hypothalamus.
- The Pituitary Gland secretes adrenocorticotropic hormone.
- Cortisol and adrenalin is subsequently released.
- The physical effects are felt with an increase in heart rate, the bladder relaxes, tunnel vision, shaking, dilated pupils, flushed face, dry mouth, slowed digestion and hearing loss.
The fight-or-flight response works effectively to keep us safe from danger and harm, however it is often triggered unnecessarily as a result of unwarranted fears and phobias that pose no real threat or danger to our survival. Instead these are nothing more than perceived threats that we interpret as being real, and as such a stress-response is triggered and we feel helpless and unable to move forward.