"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

5 common physical reactions to fear

Fear is a term that describes an emotional response in response to something that may very well be dangerous or threatening. In on a regular basis life, many individuals experience fears starting from nervousness about public chatting with severe phobias.

Situation-specific fear

People often experience temporary anxiety or nervousness when reacting to a stressful situation, similar to a presentation at work. In addition, sometimes fleeting fear occurs if you end up startled, for instance when a snake crosses your path if you are gardening.

Temporary fear often goes away by itself after the perceived threat has passed and is a useful self-protective instinct. However, chronic anxiety in the shape of panic disorder, social anxiety or phobia can affect on a regular basis life. These conditions are complicated and sometimes require skilled intervention.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder is a condition by which someone feels anxious or anxious about some or all social interactions.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a condition by which an individual suddenly experiences overwhelming fear or anxiety that may last for several minutes. Panic attacks are a symptom. The causes of panic disorder are usually not exactly clear.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD refers to recurring fears which can be triggered by past traumas similar to an accident, war, or other dangerous event.


People suffer from various phobias. Some are very specific, similar to a powerful fear of flying or snakes. Others are more general in nature, similar to social phobias or agoraphobia (fear of public or open places). Depending on the severity, a chronic fear or phobia can impact an individual's each day life and well-being.

While people often consider fear as an emotional response, physical reactions are also involved. When faced with a scary or stressful situation, people experience the “fight or flight” response.

The adrenal gland produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, triggering a sequence response of physical reactions. Here are a number of the physical signs to look out for:

  • Increased pulse
  • Faster respiration or shortness of breath
  • Butterflies or digestive changes
  • Sweating and chills
  • Trembling muscles

Changes in heart rate

In response to frightening situations, the body releases adrenaline, which stimulates the body to act. Heart and respiration rates increase in proportion to the extent of perceived threat.

Adrenaline doesn't just affect heart rate. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variations between heartbeat intervals.

The autonomic nervous system manages bodily functions that are usually not consciously controlled, similar to a heartbeat. It consists of two most important branches generally known as the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. The parasympathetic nervous system is related to rest, while the sympathetic nervous system is related to the body's response to emphasize or exertion.

When each branches of the nervous system are in balance, an individual tends to have a better HRV than someone who often experiences anxiety or is otherwise stressed.

shortness of breath

Along with a rise in heart rate, people breathe faster after they feel fear. Sometimes this could cause shortness of breath. When people feel fear or panic, they breathe at a faster pace.

Researchers at Northwestern University found that this ends in less time spent inhaling, which can prime the brain for quick motion.

Butterflies, upset stomach or nausea

The body produces cortisol in response to fear or stress. This hormone inhibits insulin production, providing the muscles with immediate energy. After the frightening situation is over, the hormonal balance returns to normal. This is one in every of the the explanation why many individuals experience tingling, stomach discomfort, or sometimes nausea after they are anxious.

Chills or increased sweating

In addition to increasing heart rate and respiration, adrenaline may increase sweating and sometimes chills. The chills occur since the hormone stimulates muscle contraction, including the tiny muscles that surround hair follicles.

This is usually known as “goosebumps” and in addition occurs when someone is cold. The expression “fear that makes your hair stand on end” refers to this physical response.


The hormones released during anxiety work together to extend blood flow to the muscle. Sometimes the muscles tremble with fear and for a short while afterwards.

Short-lived on a regular basis anxiety may be useful since it alerts an individual to a perceived threat. Mindfulness and self-care techniques similar to respiration exercises often help manage anxiety and other sources of stress.

People that suffer from more severe anxiety-related conditions similar to social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and various phobias may profit from discussing the matter with a primary care physician or behavioral health provider. Many people can manage their anxiety through a mixture of medical interventions, mindfulness techniques, or talk therapy.