Fight, Flight or Freeze responseTankeboksen

The Fight Flight or Freeze Response is an important part of our protective system. But when it's over active it also plays a big role in Depression and Anxiety. Learn how it works and how to control it in this psychology explainer video from #Tankeboksen.

Script & Storyboard
Humans, like all species, have self-protective mechanisms to help us survive. Our fight, flight or freeze survival response (“the FFF” for short) is designed to mobilise our brain and body to fight an enemy, run from an avalanche or freeze to hide from a predator.
Our brain sometimes misinterprets ‘safe’ situations as dangerous and can set of false alarms. When the amygdala, our brain's watchdog, senses and barks 'danger', our body enters survival mode quicker than our rational mind can react, leaving it trying to figure out why we feel in mortal danger.
When the FFF alarm is sounded we start to breathe more quickly and shallow causing hyperventilation, and our heart starts beating very fast. These changes can cause strong chest pain, which many people interpret as symptoms of a heart attack, when in fact it's just a result of the FFF activation., which can be relieved through breathing exercises.
As a way of getting you ‘ready for action’, blood is diverted towards the major muscle groups. Blood flows away from our digestive system, causing the bladder to relax and we might feel the need to pee. The mouth goes dry, nausea can occur and we get the ‘Butterflies’ feeling in our stomach. Blood also rushes from extremities, leaving us with cold hands, but often sweaty palms as the action-ready body starts sweating to avoid overheating. Legs and hands can start trembling and feel weak while tension starts building in big muscles like the thighs, neck and shoulders.
In our head FFF alarms cause our brain to focus on negative memories, probably so it can scan them to avoid danger and negative outcomes. We get 'Tunnel Vision' as our pupils dilate to increase our focus and long vision, but as a result we lose our peripheral vision. FFF activation also reduces our ability to recognise differences in facial expressions!!
Too much oxygen and too little CO2 can result in Dizziness or Lightheadedness, which many people interpret as signs that they might faint. But because fainting is caused by a drastic drop in blood pressure and because the FFF increases both our heart rate and blood pressure, it’s nearly impossible to faint when this happens.
Over time depression, anxiety and high levels of stress all harm the brain’s ability to slow or cancel false FFF activations, causing them to happen more often. Knowing the symptoms of false activations, makes it easier to recognise and reduce their effects. At Braive you can learn both bottom up and top down techniques to reduce false FFF activation and bring your body back to balance.