Fight or Flight: What’s Your Response to Problems and Obstacles?

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Fight or Flight: What’s Your Response to Problems and Obstacles?

Fight or flight is a survival mechanism to problems which are about to encounter / Photo by Getty Images


Everyone in the world encounters problems in their lives and everyone has their unique way of solving these problems. Sometimes people are becoming so overwhelmed of the problems that they choose to hide away from it and think that it will be over soon if they try to forget about the problem, while there are some who are brave enough to face it and solve it in order to keep their lives more peaceful.

A stressful situation whether something environmental, such as a looming work deadline, or psychological, such as persistent worry about losing a job can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physiological changes. A stressful incident can make the heart pound and breathing quicken. Muscle tense and beads of sweats also appear.

This combination of reactions to stress is also known as the “fight or flight” response because it evolved as a survival mechanism which enables the person or other mammals to quickly react to life-threatening situations or problems which they could encounter on their lives. The carefully orchestrated yet near-instantaneous sequence of hormonal changes and physiological responses could help the person in fighting the threat or flee to safety. Unfortunately, the body also has the tendency to overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic jams, work pressure, and family difficulties.

What Is ‘Fight or Flight Response’?

The flight or fight response or also called by the psychology professionals as hyperarousal or the acute stress response is a physiological reaction that happens in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. It was first described by Walter Bradford Cannon. Cannon’s theory states that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system that prepares the animal for fighting or fleeing.

The adrenal medulla produces a hormonal cascade that results in the secretion of catecholamines, especially norepinephrine and epinephrine. The hormones estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, also affect how organisms react to stress. Moreover, according to a web post by OMRF, they stated that the internal systems also leap into action when the person experiences a situation that puts them into danger. Physician-scientist Hal Scofield M.D. also shared that the sympathetic nervous system activates which stimulates the adrenal glands and surges the adrenaline in the bloodstream of the person.

This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. After the threat is gone, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels. The fight or flight response is also known as the acute stress response. Essentially, the response prepares the body to either fight or flee the threat. It is also important to note that the response can be triggered due to both real and imaginary threats.

Adrenaline Rush

According to a post by University Health News, people need adrenaline when they encounter problems or life-threatening situation in order for them to flee their way out of it. However, in normal circumstances, people experience a surge of adrenaline rush by enjoying their favorite theme park ride or when they play exciting and engaging sports. The hypothalamus also activates the adrenal medulla. The adrenal medulla is part of the autonomic nervous system.

The adrenal medulla secretes the hormone adrenaline. This hormone gets the body ready for a fight or flight response. The physiological reaction includes an increasing heart rate. Adrenaline leads to the arousal of the sympathetic nervous system and reduced activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.  Adrenal Fatigue Solutions explained that the sympathetic nervous system releases hormones in the body which are responsible for speeding up the muscles and glands that make the person become more alert during times of danger.

Meanwhile, the parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system. This part of the brain is responsible for controlling homeostasis that restores the body to its normal state and it also releases hormones that allow the body to relax. The parasympathetic nervous system originates in the sacral spinal cord and medulla, physically surrounding the sympathetic origin, and works in concert with the sympathetic nervous system. Its main function is to activate the “rest and digest” response. This system utilizes and activates the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

The physiological changes that occur during the fight or flight response are activated in order to give the body increased strength and speed in anticipation of fighting or running. In the context of the fight or flight response, emotional regulation is used proactively to avoid threats of stress or to control the level of emotional arousal. During the reaction, the intensity of emotion that is brought on by the stimulus will also determine the nature and intensity of the behavioral response.

This fight or flight response is appropriate and can actually be life-saving when there is an actual and imminent physical threat. During accidents, people should learn how to react more quickly and efficiently in order not to worsen the situation.


Adrenaline is needed when encountering life-threatening situations in order for a person to stay alert / Photo by Getty Images




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