The fight-or-flight response
Today’s threats and demands are diverse and can last for long periods of time. The pressures of being a student, managing finances, dealing with conflict in your personal life or as part of your job, and raising a family are just a few of the many long-lasting, stress-provoking situations people face today. The body responds to these demands the same way it did when our ancestors faced a predator. However, staying in a heightened state of stimulation contributes to health problems.
The fight-or-flight (stress) response stimulates your body and prepares it to deal with danger. The response increases some of your body's processes including:
- heart rate
- breathing rate
- muscle tension
- blood pressure
- insulin secretion
- blood flow to the brain, lungs, heart and muscles
- blood clotting
The fight-or-flight response also decreases some of your body's processes including:
- blood flow to the kidneys, digestive tract and skin
- interest in sex
- tissue repair
- immune system response
This state of stimulation contributes to physical and mental health problems, especially when stress is experienced for prolonged periods of time.
- The Stress Management Society has a brief description of the fight-or-flight response.
- Videos that describe the fight-or-flight response include Emotional Arousal: The Fight or Flight Reaction, The Stress Response — Fight or Flight and the Fight or Flight clip.