Norepinephrine – The drink to Fight or Flight

The know chemicals, that are released into our brain make us experience certain emotions. So does the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It triggers a defensive state that is in many scenarios also known as “fight or flight”. In many cases seemingly unthreatening events trigger this defense mechanism. It might happen that we are confronted with a different opinion by someone else or that we get stubborn in a discussion and all of a sudden these chemicals (neurotransmitters) will be released into the brain. Just to mention it, but norepinephrine tries also to ensure our survival in dangerous situations but sometimes even banal situations cause that release. 

The varying level of Norepinephrine

A lower than average level of norepinephrine is associated with a lack of the cognitive ability, it also causes fatigue and a loss of alertness. In contrast a high level of it can be associated with panic or the fight and flight response. The reaction of that overdose is similar to adrenaline. It results in increased strength and the feeling that we have to act immediately to the situation. 

In this defensive state, however, the more primitive interferes with rational thinking which has a major impact on our working memory resulting in narrow mindedness. In other words, the individual is losing its ability to make an objective conclusion or decision. On a neural level, the brain reacts as if we were threatened, even if this threat is harmless such as the already mentioned deviating opinion of someone else. During that state we perhaps avoid a fact which we may otherwise find helpful. For that reason, I guess, stressed people might say, “don’t talk to me”, “leave me alone” or “piss off”; because all they want is to escape the situation. Or if the person doesn’t want to flight but rather wants to fight, he or she might call you names in order to fight and to protect their own ego. Anyways, it is helpful to understand that chemical, because it makes us aware of our own responses and this awareness helps to avoid irrational behavior. 

Neurotransmitter norepinephrine

A common phenomenon is the tilting, which is a term from the poker game. A player who has a bad set of cards or who lost a couple of rounds might be very stressed due to that situation. As a result of recognizing his loss or the possible loss, the neurotransmitter named norepinephrine will be released into the brain causing a physical change. This can be a higher heart rate, sweating, discomfort, choking, shaking and of course the limitation of our rational thinking. I think it is very interesting to mention the physical affect these neurotransmitters have got. It is not just something that narrows our mind, makes us feel uncomfortable or strong, they really affect our whole body by providing strength or the complete opposite.