The Body’s Alarm System

Part 1 of 3:

What is an aspect of the human body that we ALL have in common? You guessed it…

It’s an alarm system! You may also refer to it as the stress response or the flight, fight, or freeze response.

In this three-part series, we’ll take a closer look at how the alarm system works, what happens when it becomes confused, and explore strategies to overcome its confusion.

Think back to a time when you felt suddenly panicked. Perhaps it was on a turbulent flight while you passed over a massive body of water or maybe it was at work when you gave a presentation to your co-workers. You likely noticed your body go into overdrive by responding with increased heart rate, change in breathing, burst of adrenaline, sweating, muscle tension, and tunnel vision, among others. This is the body’s alarm system. When the alarm bell rings, these physiological changes occur to protect us in times of possible danger, so we take action to remain alive and unharmed. The alarm system is centered in a part of the brain known as the limbic system; this is the primitive part of the brain that humans have had for thousands of years. Unfortunately, this system can learn to become confused and set of too many false alarms. Part two of this series will take a closer look at this potentially problematic response.

Do you have questions or want to share your experience of the signs you observe when your body’s alarm sounds? Comment below and I’ll try my best to answer your questions. 

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Dr. Sheena Sikorski, Licensed Psychologist

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