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The Anatomy of an Adrenaline Rush
2018-12-31 10:35:56
Fabian Rivera

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Photo by: Atlaspix via Shutterstock

In the article, “This Is Exactly What Happens to Your Body on an Adrenaline Rush,” The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia founder and executive director Marla W.Deibler, PsyD, MSCP, defined adrenaline rush as the “intense activation of nervous system caused by the release of the hormone, adrenaline, by the adrenal glands.” She added that a perceived or real threat is the catalyst behind adrenaline rushes, yet she clarified that it is frequently not a scary situation.Rather, she clarified that an adrenaline rush can also trigger excitement.

To further explain adrenaline rush’s concepts, Dr.Deibler said: “When we are faced with a stressor, our brain assesses the situation.If our brain interprets the stressor as threatening, it activates our sympathetic nervous system. For instance, if we are taking a walk through our neighborhood and a dog unexpectedly barks loudly, our hypothalamus, a small area at the base of our brain, sets off an alarm in our body.This alarm prompts our adrenal glands, located just above our kidneys, to release a set of hormones, such as adrenaline (also known as epinephrine), noradrenaline (also known as norepinephrine), and cortisol.These hormones cause effects throughout our body, including our brains.This is called the fight-or-flight response.It essentially prepares our minds and bodies to fight or flee this danger.”

In the introduction of Jarrod James' "Animal Instincts of the Human Body: A Psychological and Skeletal Muscular Analysis of Adrenaline on the Human Body," an adrenaline rush can impact everyone, particularly college students who are frequently deemed to be under some kind of physical, mental, or social stress, and it manifests under a variety of guises, such as anxiousness, nervousness, or a euphoric excitement in anticipation for some long-awaited, or long-dreaded, event.Students can experience an adrenaline rush before taking a major exam or in the excitement of watching the conclusion of a close college football game.Both mind and body synchronize, under the adrenaline rush’s influence, to deal with the outside world’s stresses.Some experience it as a welcomed tension, while others perceived it as an agonizing sensation.In other words, an adrenaline rush can either energize or demoralize an individual in dealing with the events and tasks on deck.

James also defined “adrenaline junkies” as individuals who frequently seek this kind of sensation.For example, they sought to fulfill their cravings for thrills by engaging in extreme activities like skydiving and freefalling.Athletes frequently experience an adrenaline rush during a competition, and an example of this situation is when a basketball player is tasked to clinch the game-winning free throw.

The paper mentioned that epinephrine is frequently released as a reaction to physical stress, and added that exercises maximize the concentration in blood.Hence, epinephrine production increases as an individual engages in more exercises.The experience was deemed as the development of the so-called “sports adrenal medulla” and its overstimulation can lead to its increase in both size and epinephrine production.The experience was likened to that of a conditioned muscle, in which the adrenal glands grow along with the muscles that were being used on a frequent basis.

Hence, athletic people produce more epinephrine against their non-athletic companions.In addition, athletically trained bodies are not sensitive to physical stress, decimating the amount of epinephrine released during physical activities.James made a comparison of an athletically trained individual and a non-athletic person to further illustrate how it happens.In the demonstration, the non-athletic person would gain a higher adrenaline rush than his athletic counterpart.The reason for this is that the athletic person’s body has been conditioned to engage in activities that feature such intensity, decreasing the amount of epinephrine required to efficiently perform the task.To that end, a conditioned person will be able to participate in high-intense activities compared with his or her unconditioned counterpart, since their adrenal medulla will supply enough adrenaline to permit their bodies to adapt to high-intensity environments.

James highlighted Mark French’s research, where epinephrine and other catecholamines, hormones freed alongside epinephrine, fuel muscular membrane excitability and add contractile force production.The hormones also help manage the sodium-potassium pimp, required to sustain muscle excitability, or its preparation to perform an action.More muscle fibers are being recruited to engage in a high-intensity activity due to greater contractile force.

The paper cautioned that epinephrine was never a sole source of energy amid its ability to permit the body to use huge amounts of energy.Rather, epinephrine acts as a hormone stimulant that triggers dormant energy sources to be used by muscles.It also highlighted hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) as fats in the body that are utilized as energy once certain hormones stimulate it.An evidence by Sacha J.West and her team have presented that the blood stream’s increased levels of adrenaline are linked to an increase in HSL use.

Debra Sternberg engineered a study to present that epinephrine can generate memory retention.The study has reported that the animals spent three minutes in a maze for three days, with water as the reward for completing the maze.One group of animals was infused with saline, while another group was laced with epinephrine.Both were placed in the maze once more, and in the end, the epinephrine-laced group manifested a higher percentage of correct choices when navigating the maze compared to their saline-infused counterparts.

Kristin McKinney, meanwhile, presented how adrenaline impacts arousal and attraction with “The Effects of Adrenaline on Arousal and Attraction.” The paper acknowledged that misattribution of arousal has been investigated numerous times through different methods.McKinney’s study featured 70 participants, who are over 18 and are from different races, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.There were 31 males and 39 females to be exact.

The participants were tasked to fill out a survey that featured 25 items, where eight of these were about their own adrenaline level due to physical activity and two of these were about the attraction to members of the opposite gender.The study tested the hypothesis that there was a positive link between adrenaline and attraction, and the results have manifested a significant positive correlation between the two elements.It was highlighted that levels of attraction increase along with adrenaline levels.

The paper reported: “A cross-tabulation has reported that 19 out of 31 males would want to take female one on a dinner date; 21 out of 31 would like to take female two on either a dinner or movie date; 13 out of 31 sought to take female three to dinner, while the rest were more evenly spread.On the female aspect of the study, 25 out of 39 females plan to take male one to either a dinner date or a sporting event; 20 out of 39 would want to take male two to either a dinner date or a theme park; and 14 out of 39 would seek to take male three to a movie while the rest were more scattered.”

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