Skip to main content
notice

The fight-or-flight response

The days of being chased by a predator are long gone, but we are still wired for a fight-or-flight response.

Pair of birds fighting mid-flight

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.

Additional resources





Back to top Back to top

© Concordia University