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  • Sam DiFranco

What Exactly Is Happening in the Body During Fight, Flight, or Freeze? AT Affordable Counseling Cent

The neuroscience behind the fight, flight, or freeze response may sound complex, but it’s basically a reinforced cycle of coding and processing threats.

Your amygdala is the powerhouse driving the fight, flight, or freeze response. This part of the brain reacts to various stimuli and detects them as dangerous. It transmits important emotional messages to your hypothalamus, which communicates with the rest of your body via your autonomic nervous system. 

The autonomic nervous system contains two parts: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system creates the freeing effect.

When these systems become activated, it’s normal to experience fluctuations in your:

  1. Heart rate.

  2. Ability to breathe.

  3. Body temperature.

  4. Tolerance to pain.

It’s normal to cycle through the fight, flight, or freeze cycle, although some people have a more dominant response. That said, it’s difficult to control how you react. In most cases, the body returns to a natural homeostasis within half an hour.

Can Anything Go Wrong With This Response?

Sometimes your fight, flight, or freeze response can be overactive. If this is the case, your brain may automatically code certain situations as dangerous, even if they are relatively benign.

Overactivity typically results from experiencing trauma. When we undergo a trauma in Tampa FL, and Brandon FL, our bodies work hard to protect ourselves from further danger. 

Unfortunately, the body sometimes jumps to conclusions and interprets danger even if the situation is relatively safe. For instance, if someone physically assaulted you, any scent that smells like the perpetrator may trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response.

Anxiety in Tampa FL< and Brandon FL, may also affect how your brain detects danger. People with anxiety disorders struggle with excessive fear and worry about certain situations.

For example, if you feel anxious in social situations, you may experience an overactive stress response when making a difficult phone call. Or, if you have a phobia, you may spend a great deal of energy trying to avoid that fear from manifesting. This cycle can make doing basic tasks feel challenging. If your trauma or anxiety in Tampa FL, and Brandon FL, has impacted your well-being, therapy at Affordable Counseling Center in Tampa FL, and Brandon FL, can help. Additionally, it’s important to learn what triggers, reinforces, and reduces the activation of your fight, flight, or freeze response.  At Affordable Counseling Center in Tampa FL, and Brandon FL, we can support you in your healing process. We are here to help you manage your stress and work through the issues affecting your mental health. Contact us today to schedule a appointment.


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