Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

Brittney GiacchettaPsychotherapy

The fight-flight-freeze response is your body’s reaction to threats (AKA danger). When a threat or danger is perceived, physiological and hormonal changes occur quickly in the body so you can protect yourself. This can be a survival instinct.

For example, if you are hiking and see a bear on the trail up ahead, you will remain quiet and still until it moves on. Or perhaps a friend yells “look out” and you quickly jump out of the way. These examples show how the fight-flight-freeze response can be effective in keeping you safe. Interestingly, this response can also happen when there is no real danger such as when anxiety tricks us into thinking our thoughts are indeed
dangerous.

Despite the circumstances leading up to its activation, the fight-flight-freeze response is
characterized as so:
 Fight – taking action to eliminate the danger
 Flight – escaping the danger
 Freeze – becoming immobile

In addition to the above characteristics, people experiencing the fight-flight-freeze response may
develop the following symptoms:
 rapid heart rate (fight or flight) or a drop-in heart rate (freeze)
 rapid breathing
 flushed or pale skin
 tense muscles
 dilated pupils
 dry mouth

To further discuss how the fight-flight-freeze response plays a role in your life, consider booking
an appointment with Brittney Giacchetta today.