Thursday, January 7, 2010

Panic Attacks-The Fight or Flight Response

As most of us are aware,when we are in the midst of a Panic Attack something known as the fight or flight response automatically takes over.This is a natural physiological and psychological response to a real or perceived danger/threat.In the case of real danger such as a bear attack or a mugging,the fight or flight response is a great protective mechanism.

When the fight or flight response is triggered a part of the brain called the hypothalamus is stimulated which causes the release of increased amounts of chemicals such as adrenaline,noradrenaline and cortisol.

These chemical increases cause our breathing rate to increase,the blood to moved from the areas of the body that are less essential to more vital areas such as the major  muscles and limbs.These are the parts of the body that require the most energy for fighting or fleeing.The more energy that is available,the more like it will be that we will survive the fight or successfully flee from the situation.

When there is no real danger or threat,and the fight or flight response is activated due to a panic attack,the result is irrational,exaggerated fear,confusion,distorted thinking and sensitivity to sound and/or light.(as well as many other symptoms)The sporadic nature of panic attacks makes it extremely difficult to predict when they will occur,and causes fear of the panic attack its self.


  1. There are chemicals or drugs that can give this same effect. Do you know what chemicals or drugs used to initiate this response? epinehrpine response

  2. You explained this very well. Stuart