A Short Quote on Anxiety

A short quote on anxiety from the book I’m currently reading:

“In 1915, Walter Cannon, the chair of the physiology department at Harvard Medical School, coined the term “fight or flight” to describe Darwin’s idea of an “alarm reaction”. As Cannon was the first to document systematically, when the fight-or-flight response is activated, peripheral blood vessels constrict, directing blood away from the extremities to the skeletal muscles, so the animal will be better prepared to fight or run. (This streaming of  blood away from the skin is what makes a frightened person appear pale.) Breathing becomes faster and deeper to keep the blood supplied with oxygen. The live secretes an increased amount of glucose, which energizes various muscles and organs. The pupils of the eyes dilate and hearing becomes more acute so that the animal can better appraise the situation. Blood flows away from the alimentary canal and digestive processes stop – saliva flow decreases (causing that anxious feeling of a dry mouth), and there is often an urge to defecate, urinate, or vomit. (Expelling waste material allows the animal’s internal systems to focus on survival needs more immediate than digestion.)” – Scott Stossel, My Age of Anxiety, 2013



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