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Panic Attacks - What is Fight or Flight Response?

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Author: Bertil Hjert

The first step in helping yourself deal with panic attacks is to understand that anxiety and fear are normal emotions. These feelings are actually mechanisms to help, not hurt us.

This mechanism stems back to primitive man who was hunting wild animals for his food and surviving in the wild. When our ancestors were faced with the kind of dangers most of us canīt imagine now, the anxiety and fear triggered the fight/flight response and moved our ancestors into action to protect themselves, through fighting the oncoming danger or running.

The body takes over and you are able to respond to a threat with very little notice. Think about driving, we are able to swerve out of the way of oncoming dangers with very little notice or thought. We do things all the time in our lives, automatically, without much thought to avoid dangers. This is our highly attuned and trained body responding to danger.

Our nervous system triggers this instant action, surge of adrenalin and response but it also triggers a reaction that brings us back to calm when the danger passes. Eventually, regardless of the situation, your nervous system will seek to restore calm to your body. Your body will not allow you to spiral endlessly in an ongoing surge of anxiety and fear.

Think about your panic attacks, did they last forever; did you continue to feel the effects forever? Of course not, your body realized there was no danger and triggered the calming effects of your nervous system.

During a panic attack you need to try to remind yourself that the effects you are feeling will not overwhelm your body.

For example, when having a panic attack, most people experience a shortness of breath or tightening of the chest. You feel like you canīt breathe so you become anxious about your breathing and fear you will stop breathing altogether.

This is the key - Your panic attack will not stop your breathing! Try holding your breath forever. You canīt do it, eventually your body forces you to take that gulp of air.

A panic attack is no different, you donīt need to take over for your body and tell yourself when to breathe. Your body will take care of that for you, donīt question it as you start breathing faster and faster and breathe deeper. This is your body feeding itself oxygen for its fight or flight response.

Panic attacks also trigger a rush of blood to your fight or flight muscle groups such as your thighs and calves so you can prepare to spring into action. This means blood is draining away from your fingertips, toes and skin leaving you feeling tingly and possibly numb. This sensation leads many to believe they are having a heart attack.

Fight or Flight response can make you feel dizzy as your blood rushes away from your head, can make you see stars as your pupils dilate and make you nauseous as your digestive system slows down.

This is normal, whatīs not normal for panic attack sufferers are when the response is triggered. Panic attack sufferers have their fight or flight engines triggered in situations where it is unwarranted.

You can manage that and reduce the likelihood of your panic attacks by understanding what is happening and employing calming techniques.

About the author: Download your free eBook "Stop Panic Attacks and Deal with Your Anxious Thoughts" here:

- From Bertil Hjert - The author of the Panic Goodbye Program. Read more about my brand new eBook at:

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