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Updated: 11/09/2022

\ ˈflīt ər ˈfīt ri-ˈspän(t)s \


The fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response, is a physiological reaction that occurs as a response to perceived harm or stress. The response starts in the brain, which activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the release of cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) hormones from the adrenal glands. These hormones result in physiological reactions that include increased heart rate, flushed skin, dilated pupils, slowed digestion and shaking.

The Fine Print

While the fight-or-flight response is essential for survival, if your stress leads to anxiety or depression, reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional. Find resources through the National Alliance of Mental Health at 1-800-950-NAMI. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or behavior, seek emergency treatment immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Where We Come In

Chronic stress from the repeated activation of the fight-or-flight response can take its toll on the body. Meditation, the use of adaptogenic herbs and regular exercise can all help keep chronic stress at bay.