Helpful Handouts, Uncategorized


The Fight-or-Flight Response: What Happens?

The fight-or-flight response is a healthy, harmless response designed to save your life, by preparing you to run or fight in the reacting brain feels you’re threatened.

What You Notice: Palpitations (stronger, faster heartbeats)

Why It Happens: The heart is pumping more blood to the fighting muscles.

What You Notice: Faster breathing

Why It Happens: To get more oxygen to the muscles

What You Notice: Muscles Tense

Why It Happens: To prepare you to fight or run

What You Notice: Chest tightness or discomfort. Short of breath or suffocating feeling

Why It Happens: Chest muscles are tensed. You’re breathing more oxygen than your muscles need

What You Notice: Feeling hot

Why It Happens: More blood’s being sent to fighting muscles

What You Notice: Feeling cold, tingling, or numbness

Why It Happens: Blood’s being pulled away from the outside of the body to reduce bleeding if wounded

What You Notice: Visual changes

Why It Happens: Pupils dilate (get bigger) which increases your range of vision so you won’t be ambushed

What You Notice: Feeling faint, dizzy, or unsteady

Why It Happens: The changes in blood flow, breathing in more oxygen than your muscles need, and dilated pupils cause this

What You Notice: Feeling like things aren’t quite real or like you’re not quite real

Why It Happens: Comes from the visual changes and decreased concentration on everyday activities because you’re concentrating on potential dangers

What You Notice:  Stomach discomfort, nausea, or diarrhea

Why It Happens: Blood moves to the fighting muscles and away from the digestive system

What You Notice: Lump in your throat, dry throat, or feeling like you can’t swallow

Why It Happens: Muscles are tensed and your body is preparing to fight, not eat

What You Notice: Shaky, trembling

Why It Happens: Muscles are tensed but not being used

What You Notice: Sweating

Why It Happens: So you don’t overheat if you have to run or fight

What You Notice: More easily startled, restless, or feeling you’re going to “do something”

Why It Happens: Your mind and body are prepared to run or fight if there is danger

What You Notice: More easily irritated

Why It Happens: You’re being prepared to fight off danger

What You Notice: Trouble sleeping or restless sleep

Why It Happens: You’re alert for danger

What You Notice: Decreased concentration

Why It Happens: Your mind’s thinking about danger

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