There is a stranger in your house. You can hear the noise, but you are not sure who it is, or what they want. Without thinking anything, your body is already gearing up for some sort of action. Your neurochemistry is subtly changing, and your autonomic nervous system is firing rapidly, and all of this is taking place in less than the blink of an eye. What you are experiencing is the fight/flight/or freeze reflex to stress.
The fight/flight/or freeze response is an inherent trait that almost all humans have. It was a response that, likely millions of years ago, served our distant ancestors well, and helped keep them alive and safe, which led to that specific trait being passed down to all of us through the ages. During this near instantaneous reaction, the body quickly gears up to react in some way in order to ensure its survival. The freeze stress response is very common.
The fight/flight/or freeze response does not have to be taught, and so long as a person’s body is functioning relatively normally, they can experience this stress response. When presented with an immediate stressor, the body releases adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol. The heart rate elevates, and blood is directed away from the organs and toward the arms and legs to enable fighting or fleeing. Less energy is expended on functions such as thought and digestion because all of the body’s capabilities are mobilized to respond to stress. This explains why the response causes immediate reaction with no thought required, or likely possible; the energy the body is providing is going to act, not to think. The brain is effectively left out of this loop. You will find many fight or flight response examples and it is possible to learn from them.
While this was an effective evolutionary reaction to danger and threats when we as a species fought for survival, now it is often not a useful response when a person is getting agitated in a traffic jam or has to speak in front of a conference.
The fight/flight or freeze stress response is what activates when the brain identifies a threat, and that threat can be anything, even things that are not a physical danger, like public speaking. The fight/flight/freeze response does not easily differentiate between actual threat, like the above example of someone breaking into your home, and a perceived threat, such as public speaking. You can suddenly face the situation of freeze flight or fight.
The fight/flight/freeze response is at its most helpful during short, intense periods of danger. There are many flight freeze examples that can give you lessons.
When a person experiences this response over a prolonged period of time, or repeatedly, it can lead to health problems, including an anxiety disorder. The key to effective treatment is in finding ways to shut off this response when it is not needed. A qualified mental health professional can guide you through diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and recommend appropriate treatment for your unique situation. Many individuals are finding success through online therapy services due to their convenience and affordability.
A Evans says
I have chronic anxiety. Having come from and abusive home. Then marrying an abusive(mental & emotional) man, having 3 of his children. He concinced me to move to MB from BC and my parents amd my girls grandparents, he isolated me but I didn’t see it at the time. I finally got the courage to leave only to be punished for having a mental health disorder. Then losing my children to that same man who is emotionally and mentally abusive to our 3 daughters. Now grown, toungeat is 15 and scared to make any desicion her father disagrees or doesnt believe in. Like depression. They are scaretd of him emotionally and mentally. But CFS doesn’t recognize my issues. Instead they blame drugs and booze. Shortly after that I met a physically abusive man. Who stalked me, relentlessly. Tattooed my name on his arm. And my girls names on his chest. He finally went to jail for sexual interference. Killing any chance of getting my girls back… i guess guilty by association. Even though I begged CFS and the Brandon Police to help keep him away…they didn’t and on top of all this I have suffered depression my entire life. Being from a home where the parents were always drinking and always fighting. Seeing my dad hit my mom, break her arm and ribs.. never recieved any counseling for any of it.
I moved back to BC as my stalker was being released from jail. I could no longer live somewhere I never wanted to be. Now I’m 1000 times worse. I have chronic anxiety. I don’t leave the house. I can’t get a real dr. All I see are walk in drs because there are none available. Short of trying to kill myself, that would be the only way to get an actual dr.
They have me on lorazepam for over 20 years now. Same dose 1 mg twice a day. Sleeping pills temazepam 30mg 1 at bedtime. On top of that I have severe stomach cramping due to an IUD put in a year ago. Have trued to gwt pain relif from drs. But no “walk in” Dr will prescribe me anything…..and certainly not the 4mg dilaudid I take 4 times a day that I buy from someone because I can’t get a.prescription because everyone’s addicted to opiods. So that means we all ate addicted to them. I know I should be prescribed something more then ativan. I have no desire for anything anymore. I don’t go anywhere. I have no friends. Sure I know people. Buy they don’t want to be around me. I don’t want to be around me. I need a dr who will listen and help me be able to manage my life…I don’t want them too. I need to be diagnosed properly. A regular dr so I’m not explaining my life story in 1 min or less. It’s not possible. There is so much more to write. But why. No one cares.
A Evans says
Guess I should have re-read it for typos. Oh well another hiccup in my crappy life