What Are the Causes of an Adrenaline Rush?

Updated April 17, 2017

A sudden burst of energy caused by an increase in the hormone and the neurotransmitter adrenalin or epinephrine is called an adrenalin rush. It may involve an increase in heart rate, blood sugar, perspiration, metabolism and blood pressure. Often, an adrenalin rush refers to the unconscious reaction of the body to fear.

Facts About Adrenaline

Adrenalin is a hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter. It is stored in the adrenal glands and is responsible for the "fight or flight" reaction of the human nervous system. Also called epinephrine, adrenalin prepares the body for action during emergency situations, giving an abrupt upsurge of energy.


Several factors can cause an adrenalin rush: fear, excitement and the sense of imminent danger. Extreme and sudden emotions can also activate the adrenal glands to suddenly release adrenalin. In some instances, however, underlying medical factors---such as anxiety disorders, panic attacks or a tumour in the Adrenal medulla---may trigger an adrenalin rush.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are associated with several forms of pathological and abnormal levels of fear and anxieties. Often, this disorder is a chronic condition that may be triggered by several traumatic events and injuries. Since an anxiety disorder causes sudden feelings of terror or fear, it often then triggers an adrenalin rush.


Pheochromocytoma is a rare adrenalin-secreting tumour located in the medulla of the adrenal glands. People with this condition often show heart palpitations, extreme anxiety and fright, increase in blood glucose level, increased heart rate, forceful heartbeat and weight loss. The tumour may cause the uncontrollable release of adrenalin.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety or fear for no apparent reason. Because of the extreme change in emotions, a panic attack may give way to an adrenalin rush.

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About the Author

LaTasha Favors has been writing professionally since 2008. She specializes in travel- and health-related topics and has published articles on various websites, including and