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Fear causes a variety of reactions depending on the intensity, timing, and coping options available. The reactions include:

1. Freezing in place and feeling terror if we can't do anything to avoid the immediate danger.

2. Running or escaping from the immediate danger,

3. Sharply focusing our attention and mobilizing us to act to reduce or eliminate the danger when we can take effective action to cope with the threat, or

4. Panic, including shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, and the inability to focus on anything but worrying about the feared future event,

5. Fighting to destroy the object of our fear.


Fear also often causes cold hands, deeper and more rapid breathing, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweating, dry mouth, and trembling or tightening of the muscles, especially in the arms and legs.

We estimate the risks and vulnerability of the threat almost instantly and then fight, freeze, focus, or flee based on this assessment.

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