Fight or Flight Stress Response

Stress response increases the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the brain, which slow metabolism and digestion in an effort to conserve energy and direct it toward the limbs. Known as the fight or flight response, symptoms include rapid breathing, a racing pulse, a slowing of digestion, constriction of the blood vessels, tunnel vision and diminished hearing capability.

When going through a fight or flight response, the body initially sends out an alarm, producing adrenaline and cortisol. As the stress response continues, the body goes through a stage of resistance, rapidly depleting its resources in an effort to manage the stress. Finally, the body will reach the point of exhaustion, once all resources have been depleted, and it cannot function normally.

Chronic Stress VariablesThe stress hormones that cause the fight or flight response throw your body off balance because they slow down natural bodily functions like immune system responses and digestive and growth processes. Stress response can physically interfere with the mechanisms that keep the body healthy. People who experience chronic stress are at a higher risk for heart disease, ulcers, digestive issues and obesity.

People who have trouble managing stress response may find themselves in a constant state of anxiety. This is caused by the body’s perpetual triggering of the fight or flight response. An inability to adequately manage stress can leave you mentally and physically drained and cause difficultly focusing on day-to-day tasks. Constant stress can also increase the risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression or memory impairment.

Find positive ways to cope with stress and help prevent it from affecting your mental and physical health. Also, pinpointing areas of stress in your life can help you develop a plan to better manage those factors. Perhaps you need to practice better time management, or maybe you need to surround yourself with more positive people. Exercising, practicing relaxation techniques and seeking support can help you manage stress response and live a healthier, happier life.


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