Have you ever worried that you may be having a heart attack or severe illness only to go to the doctor and be told you are just stressed or anxious? 
I bet you have! No wonder you were worried. Anyone would when their heart is pounding, and they feel weak and dizzy so often; however, very few doctors have time to explain in depth what is happening to them. After over a decade of working as a stress and anxiety expert, I still have clients that come to our first free consultation and have never heard of a fight or flight response. Just this extra knowledge would have helped to put them at ease, but with doctors under so much pressure, they can't explore this. So what is the "fight or flight" response? 

 So what is the "fight or flight" response? 

The fight or flight response ocurres when the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated during a fight or flight response, a series of physical and behavioural changes aimed at preparing the body for action occurs. The SNS releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, from the adrenal glands, which then trigger the following physiological responses: 
Increased heart rate: The SNS stimulates the heart to pump faster, which increases blood flow to the muscles and brain. 
Dilated pupils: The SNS causes the pupils to dilate, improving visual acuity and allowing for a greater perception of the environment. 
Enhanced respiration: The SNS increases the rate and depth of respiration, providing more oxygen to the body and muscles. 
Increased blood flow to muscles: The SNS diverts blood flow away from non-essential organs and towards the muscles, providing them with the energy they need to respond to the perceived threat. 
Suppression of digestive and immune systems: The SNS suppresses the digestive and immune systems, as they are non-essential for immediate survival. 
Release of glucose from the liver: The SNS stimulates the liver to release glucose, providing the body with a quick energy source.  

Physiological responses work together to help the body respond to the perceived threat and either fight or flee.   

The hypothalamus activates the SNS in response to signals from the amygdala, which perceives potential threats. After the threat has been neutralized or avoided, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over, reversing the effects of the SNS and returning the body to its resting state. 
The time it takes for the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) to reverse the effects of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and return the body to its resting state depends on several factors. These include the intensity and duration of the stress response and the individual's overall health and well-being. 
Typically, it takes a few minutes to several hours for the PNS to fully reverse the effects of the SNS and return the body to its resting state. In some cases, it can take longer, particularly in individuals who experience chronic stress or have underlying health conditions that affect the function of the PNS. 
It is important to note that the PNS and SNS are constantly working together in a delicate balance, with one system activating and the other deactivating as needed. When the body is under prolonged or chronic stress, this balance can be disrupted, leading to persistent activation of the SNS and a corresponding decline in PNS function. This can have adverse effects on physical and mental health, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and depression. 
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