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Fight-Flight-Freeze response

F3 or the Fight-Flight-Freeze response which is the body’s automatic, built-in system designed to protect us from threat or danger.

It is an automatic reaction of our body to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers a stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee(escape). This enables the body to take action quickly, and is intended to keep us out of harm.

The fight-or-flight response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety.

The changes seen in body during this response are :
-Heart rate increases
-Blood pressure increases
-Blood sugar (i.e. glucose) levels rise
-Respiration rate increases
-Muscles tense up
-Perspiration increases
-Pupils dilate

Why is the fight or flight response important?
You can probably think of a time when you experienced the fight-or-flight response (preparing to give a big presentation at school or work or encountering a growling dog during your morning jog) . When faced with something frightening, you can feel your heartbeat quicken, you may start breathing faster, and your entire body becomes tense and ready to take action. This can help you perform better in situations where you are under pressure to do well, such as at work or school. And in cases where the threat is life-threatening, the fight-or-flight response plays a critical role in your survival. By gearing you up to fight or flee, this response makes it more likely that you will survive the danger.

However, many patients suffering from anxiety disorders or other conditions may have threat systems which have become overactive, or which are insufficiently counterbalanced by activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. And in conditions like Phobias , stress and anxiety disorders and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) , the triggers and responses can be misinterpreted as F3 responses .

Understanding the body’s natural fight-or-flight response is one way to help cope with such situations. When you notice that you are becoming tense, you can start looking for ways to calm down and relax your body. By learning more about the fight-or-flight response, new ways to deal with natural reactions to stress can be explored and they can become very helpful for people .

-Chanchal Kriplani

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