The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

Fight-or-Flight Response

The "fight-or-flight" response refers to the body's natural reaction to an emergency. The body systems which are useful for facing a threat ("fight") or fleeing danger ("flight") are stimulated:

  • Blood flow is increased to the muscles;
  • Heart rate increases;
  • Respiration increases;
  • Bood pressure increases.

As a tradeoff, energy is decreased to other ongoing body functions including digestion, immune system response, ovulation, and so on.

Fight or flight response

In the short term, the fight-or-flight response is a natural and appropriate response to stress or threat. In fact, it is generally believed that a certain amount of stress is necessary for physical well-being.

However, prolonged stress can damage body function, leading to high blood pressure, gastrointestinal and digestive problems, decreased immune system response, and even brain damage.

by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain