Understanding Fight or Flight

Robin Hall
A free video tutorial from Robin Hall
Piano Teacher (300,000 students online), Artist, Therapist,
4.7 instructor rating • 5 courses • 331,523 students

Learn more from the full course

CBT4PANIC. Overcome Panic & Anxiety attacks fast

A complete professional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) treatment plan for anxiety and panic disorder.

07:21:28 of on-demand video • Updated October 2015

  • You will understand why panic and anxiety arises and what is keeping it going
  • You will learn skills that will enable you to deal with any anxiety or panic attack
  • You will learn why it is possible to be completely free from panic attacks
  • You will learn skills that will prevent your panic from coming back in the future
English [Auto] OK let's take a closer look at exactly how this fight or flight response works. And more importantly what sensations you can fit as a result of that. And it's very important that you make a connection between fighter flight and your symptoms of panic and it's going to help you in your recovery. So Page 16 you see a rather anxious character in the middle of the piece there. We're going to pretend that he's under some sort of danger the fight or flight response is kicking in. So let's say that's the fight or flight response right hand side of symptoms you can feel as a result of the fight or flight response. So imagine yourself and you're confronted with some danger really think you're going to be in some danger. Your mind and body will immediately go on to high alert and be watching for signs of danger and that can result in feeling a sense of danger impending doom something's going to happen. You're agitated you're on easy. You can't relax OK. Connect that to your symptoms of panic. OK. Your breathing will become rapid and that helped divert blood to all the vital organs in your bodies that are necessary for your survival. That can result in because you're breathing rapidly. You can feel dizzy and lightheaded. You may even hyperventilate. Another fight or flight response is tunnelvision and this is very clever. It's peripheral vision. So your vision is diminished. So you say essentially focused on any danger and the pupils of your eyes widen and they let in more light so you can see very very clear. So very very clever evolutionary response but the resulting symptom can be extreme. And because it is all you feel you may be going blind. Blurred vision become very sensitive to light and you may even get a sense of unreality because you're seeing things in slightly different way than usual the adrenalin and increase that comes with fight or flight response. And the reason for that is it sends blood around the muscle groups as we have said that can result in palpitations flutters feeling of skipped or Miss Bates chest might become tight you might feel a choking sensation again relate that to your panic attacks and you also the body will start sweating. So you don't overheat. So let's say you're running or you're fighting to get away in your body often overheat it cleverly. It makes you sweat it keeps your temperature even. OK so the resulting symptom is that you'll be sweating even even in the cold you get hot or cold flushes. You still might also produce extra acid. And they just did is very cleverly you muscle action will increase. And this is to help you quickly digest and eliminate food as simple as that is just a basic thing you need. You can't successfully fight or run away from something if you're stuffed full of food. So your body immediately says right from to sort that everything is on the increase. Extra Extra digestive juices muscle actually increases and that helps you quickly digest and eliminate it. So simple but very important for you to see the resulting symptom obviously is you frequently need to go to the toilet. You get nausea butterflies churning stomach acidity indigestion diarrhea and again really a panic attack. Your symptoms in a panic attack. Think about it. Back to this fight or flight response. Your muscle tensing your muscles will tense up. That's clearly to prepare you for a quick departure and to make the body more resilient to attacks. When you feel in danger you know stiffen up everything goes rigid. You're getting ready for some time and the resulting symptom muscle tension even shaking if you're holding yourself very tight and very tense. And you know you can start shaking stiffness trembling jelly legs that's where that comes from because everything has been tensed up. You can even start twitching and you even get severe pain at times because you're holding everything so tight it can produce pain. Lastly the bottom of the page and this is very clever people don't even realize this is going on your blood vessels to the skin is constricted reducing any potential blood loss especially in your hands and feet. So this is evolutionary fight or flight response actually go so far as to constrict the blood to the skin and that reduces any potential loss. If you're if you're cut or anything happens to it it's getting dissolved in because the blood vessels are constricted you can get cold clammy hands pins and needles sensation that you feel pins and needles tingling sensation numbness in your hands and feet that will result from that process that's going on where your blood vessels are being constructed. So try to look at the connection between fight or flight and the symptoms and then your symptoms of your panic attack. You could see that that whole list is basically the list I just read it out which comes from the fight or flight response. And it's vital that you make this connection.