What happens when we're anxious?
When we behave in an apprehensive manner, the body experiences a stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones, which are stimulants, into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.
The stress response is an integral part of the body's survival mechanism. The body experiences a stress response whenever we perceive danger so that the body is better equipped to deal with the danger: to either fight against it or flee from it.
The stress response can occur in degrees of severity, and these degrees are directly proportional to the degree of danger we believe we are in. For example, if we believe we are in mild danger, the body produces a mild stress response, which causes mild changes within the body. If we believe we are in grave danger, the body produces a dramatic stress response, which causes dramatic changes within the body.
While the stress response can feel powerful at times, it's intended to help us, not hurt us, when we’re in real danger. So again, the stress response is our ally, not our enemy.
The stress response causes a number of changes in the body that can affect the body physically, psychologically, and emotionally. When we behave apprehensively, we create the physiological, psychological, and emotional state of anxiety.
For more detailed information about the stress response and the many changes it can bring about, you can read the information in Chapter 3 in the Recovery Support area of our website. This information provides in depth details about the stress response, the many changes it causes in the body, why it causes those changes, what specific changes occur in the body, and how long these changes can last. And much more.
Suffice to say, behaving apprehensively activates the stress response. The stress response causes the same changes in every human body. This response is a vital and normal part of the body’s survival mechanism.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 2016.