Fight or flight response

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The fight-or-flight response (or acute stress response) is a set of physiological changes that occur when an animal is threatened.[1] The changes include increased heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.

This response was first described by W.B Cannon.[2] He theorized that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn lead to changes such as those mentioned above. This prepares the animal for fighting or fleeing.[3]

This response is recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.[4]

Evolutionary perspective[change | change source]

The fight or flight response lets animals respond quickly to threats against their survival.[5][6]

The fact that this system is (as far as we know) universal in vertebrates shows that it is very ancient in origin, and very important. Humans have some problems with the system, because though they share the physiology with other animals, they rarely face a clear-cut fight or flight choice. Humans can try to talk their way through various problems and semi-threats, but they may suffer stress when the issues are not easily solved.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Cannon, Walter (1932). Wisdom of the body. United States: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393002055 .
  2. Cannon W.B. (1929). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
  3. Jansen, A et al (1995). "Central command neurons of the sympathetic nervous system: basis of the fight-or-flight response". Science 5236 (270).
  4. Gozhenko, A. et al (2009). Pathology: theory. Medical Student's Library. Radom. pp. 270–275.
  5. Grohol, John. "What's the purpose of the fight or flight response?". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  6. Goldstein, David; Kopin, I (2007). "Evolution of concepts of stress". Stress 10 (2): 109–20. doi:10.1080/10253890701288935 . PMID 17514579 .
  7. Mayo Clinic Staff. Stress symptoms: Effects on your body, feelings and behavior. Mayo Clinic.