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Now that we’ve discussed some of the primary physiological causes of panic attacks, there are a number of other effects that are produced by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, none of which are in any way harmful.

For example, the pupils widen to let in more light, which may result in blurred vision, or “seeing” stars, etc. There is a decrease in salivation, resulting in dry mouth. There is decreased activity in the digestive system, which often produces nausea, a heavy feeling in the stomach, and even constipation. Finally, many of the muscle groups tense up in preparation for “fight or flight,” and this results in subjective feelings of tension, sometimes extending to actual aches and pains, as well as trembling and shaking.

Overall, the fight or flight response results in a general activation of the whole bodily metabolism. Thus, one often feels hot and flushed and, because this process takes a lot of energy, the person generally feels tired and drained.

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