Quarrel and Quarreling is a stressful situation. And according to science, the nervous system is the part of the body that responds to every stressful situation through the fight-or-flight response.

So, in other words, the question of how does the nervous system suffer when you quarrel can be reframed as what happens to the nervous system when stressed.

If you have ever quarreled with anyone or faced a stressful situation and you wondered why you felt like fighting back or fleeing away then you have come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to learn more about the “fight-or-flight” response.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

What Happens When You Quarrel?

The process of quarreling or arguing is stressful. And like other stressful situations, it can trigger a flow of stress hormones that results in well-orchestrated physiological changes.

Quarreling makes the heart pound fast and quickens breathing.

Your muscles tense and some people even sweat a lot.

During such as situation, the body directs its energy and resources to either fight or flee from the situation. The adrenal glands are triggered to produce two crucial hormones known as epinephrine and cortisol.

This is what it called the “fight or flight” response.

It is a survival mechanism for both people and other animals that triggers a particular reaction toward a life-threatening situation.

The body can react differently to different types of stressors.

The ‘Fight-or-Flight’ Response

As stated above, the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, otherwise known as the acute stress response is a physiological reaction triggered by a mentally or physically terrifying situation.

The reaction is triggered by the production is certain hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with the situation or run away to safety.

The ‘fight-or-flight’ response was first defined by Walter Bradford Cannon, an American physiologist in the 1920 century.

How Your Body Reacts During the Fight-or-Flight Response?

Often, when you quarrel or after you notice a threat, the ‘fight or flight response starts in your brain.

To respond to the situation, certain hormones are released suddenly that trigger the sympathetic nervous system that stimulates a chain of reactions that speed up breathing, increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Your body becomes tense and ready to face the situation or flee away.

To understand what happens during the flight-or-fight response better, let’s learn how the nervous system works because it is the center of all the reactions triggered by the response.

How Does The Nervous System Function?

Before we proceed, let’s define the term.

The nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all the nerve cells that attach all these organs to other parts of the body to enable communication within the body and the outside world.

The nervous system is responsible for recording and processing information to trigger reactions such as the movement of your muscles or feeling pain.

For instance, if you place your hands on a hot surface, you pull back your hand automatically and your nerves send pain signals to your brain.

The nervous system also controls metabolic processes– that’s why most dietary supplements for weight loss are aimed at stimulating the central nervous system.

The nervous system can be divided into two major parts.

Let’s take a look at the divisions and subdivisions of the nervous system below:

Part of the Nervous System

The nervous system has two great divisions that work in harmony to enable communication between organs and the outside world.

The two major parts of the nervous system are the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Central nervous system

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS is the control center of the body where information is processed and decisions are made.

The central nervous system records all the conscious and subconscious information from the body’s sensory receptors to understand the internal and external conditions.

The CNS then uses the information to make decisions on how to survive.

Assuming that you are in a heated quarrel and it reaches a point of fighting, the decision to attack is made in the central nervous system.

The central nervous system also helps with other functions such as creativity, emotions, etc.

Peripheral nervous system

The peripheral nervous system, as the name suggests, consists of the parts of the nervous system surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

The peripheral nervous system connects the central nervous system to the whole body.

It consists of the ganglia, spinal nerves, and sensory nerves.

The function of the PNS is to monitor conditions within and outside the body and relay this information through the nerves to the central nervous system for decisions to be made.

The peripheral nervous system is also subdivided into two major sections namely: the somatic nervous system and autonomic nervous system.

Somatic nervous system

The somatic nervous system consists of motor neurons and sensory neurons. Motor neurons send instructions from the CNS to the muscles whereas sensory neurons send sensory information to the CNS. The somatic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that’s controlled willfully and is tasked with triggering skeletal muscles in the body.

Autonomic nervous system

The autonomic nervous system consists of all the involuntary efferent neurons. It’s the one responsible for controlling our internal organs and glands including the cardiac muscle tissues, glandular tissues, and visceral muscle tissues.

The autonomic nervous system can be subdivided into two divisions namely: the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for preparing the body for stress-related situations.

It’s the part of the nervous system that forms the fight-or-flight response to stress, fear, excitement, emotions, exercise, embarrassment, etc.

It works to increase respiration, heart rate, digestion, and other bodily processes.

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for returning bodily functions to a relaxed or normal state.

It works to undo the work of the sympathetic nervous system.

It works to decrease heart rate, breathing speed, respiration, and increase digestion.

In a nutshell, when you quarrel, the sympathetic nervous system prepares your body to either fight or run away. Once everything has been resolved, the parasympathetic nervous system returns your body to a relaxed state.

The two systems work together in harmony to maintain the body’s homeostasis.

Functions of The Nervous System

Typically, there are four functions of the nervous system. However, at a more integral level, the main function of the NS is to regulate and relay information to the rest of the body.

  • Maintains homeostasis: During workouts or exercise, more heat is created inside our body. To regulate the temperature, the nervous system sends a signal to the blood vessels to expand and allow more blood to flow to the skin and increase sweating hence the heat is spread.
  • Memory and learning: The nervous system is responsible for improving learning and writing.
  • Programming: Assuming you place your hands on a hot place or metal, the nervous system sends pain signals to the brain telling it to pull back your hands.
  • Voluntary control movement: The nervous system is also responsible for all voluntary movements you make. If you are walking, the nervous system sends the signals to the body parts responsible for walking telling them to move.

As a summary of the parts of the nervous system, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system.

The somatic and automatic nervous systems make up the peripheral nervous system.

The somatic nervous system is responsible for the exchange of sensory and motor signals to and from the central nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system maintains the proper functioning of our glands and organs.

The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the autonomic nervous system that prepares us for the fight-or-flight response in case of stressful situations.

The parasympathetic nervous system is also part of the autonomic nervous system that returns the body to normal functioning after a stressful situation has been resolved.

Signs That the Fight-or-Flight Response Has Been Triggered

As stated above, the ‘fight-or-flight’ also known as the stress response is activated by a release of certain hormones either provoking us to stay and fight or run away to safety.

During that time, all bodily systems work to keep us safe from the perceived situation.

The body assesses the situation and determines the possible actions you should take for survival automatically.

Here are signs that the stress response has been triggered:

Increased heart rate and blood pressure

During the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, you’re breathing much faster and heavily hence nutrients and oxygen is transported in huge quantities to your major muscles. For that reason, your heart rate and blood pressure increase.

Widened pupils

When in danger, the body assesses the surroundings by dilating the pupils hence allowing more light into the eyes so you can see things better.

Pale or flushed skin

More blood is flowing to the brain, legs, muscles, and arms while less of it is flowing to the surface of the body hence your skin becomes pale or flushed.


As stress hormones are being released and transported throughout the body, you start to tremble. Your muscle becomes aware of action hence can move at any given moment to keep you safe.

Heightened senses

You become more aware and observant and are looking and listening for everything that could pose danger to you.

In a nutshell, during the fight or flight response, the body is focusing on the most important action at that time.

All the unimportant things are placed on the back burner.

Your body is directing all the energy on the most crucial functions.

Typically, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to reverse the flight-or-fight response.

The Importance of the Fight-or-Flight Response

The fight or flight response plays a significant role in how our bodies respond to stressful and dangerous situations around us.

When you quarrel, the nervous system through the fight or flight response prompts your body to either fight or stay away from the quarrel.

By preparing your body for certain actions, your body is better prepared to perform under pressure.

The stress triggered by the situation helps make you cope with the situation at hand.

In a life-threatening situation, the stress response plays a crucial role in helping you to survive.

The fight-or-flight response is triggered automatically but it can sometimes be inaccurate.

For instance, sometimes it is triggered by false situations.

That’s why it’s important to understand your body’s fight or flight response so you can cope with any situation that happens to you.

The good news is that you can switch off the response.

For instance, when you notice that you’re becoming tense for no reason, you can find ways to keep your body calm and relaxed.

Below are some of the ways to control the fight or flight response.

How to Control the Fight-or-Flight Response?

Sometimes some stressful situations that aren’t life-threatening cannot be controlled easily.

Nevertheless, they can lead to prolonged side effects such as decreased immune response and many other issues.

For instance, bills, lack of finances, work, etc. are some of the stressors that aren’t life-threatening.

Different people interpret these stressors differently and that’s why some struggle with anxiety while others don’t.

Some people cannot drive past the spot where an accident has occurred because of fear.

In summary, the fight or flight response is a crucial reaction that different people get in different situations.

It has a clear purpose and function, but it shouldn’t be triggered over everything.

While it’s meant for true stress and danger, sometimes some people get it falsely.

Learning how to control it can be helpful.

Triggering the relaxation response, learning to accept, and letting things go could help you control the response.

Exercising and yoga could also help. You could also learn to share with others and spend time with friends to control the stress response.

Have you ever quarreled?

How did you feel?

What was your reaction?

Let us know that in the comment section.

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