Do you enjoy curling up on the sofa watching a horror movie? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, about 51% of Americans watch horror movies, especially during Halloween. The viewers often range between the age of 22 to 50.
Furthermore, the rise of habitual binge-watching, which came with streaming services, has caused a significant surge in the number of people watching horror movies today.
There’s just something magical about watching scary movies: the adrenaline rush, the varying emotions, and the satisfaction of being safe in your room are usually enriching.
So, do horror films affect your mental health positively? Continue reading to find out.
Positive Effect of Horror Movies on Mental Health
Horror movies can have several negative effects on our mental health, including increased depression level, anxiety, panic, and triggering unwanted thoughts. Most essay papers about depression link horror movies to increased depression and anxiety levels. However, these depression essay papers fail to highlight the positive impact the films can have on our mental health.
That said, here’s a list of ways horror films can positively affect your mental health:
They Provide a Sense of Comfort
Any media can serve as a temporary reprieve from anxiety, whether imagined or real, and horror movies can allow you to handle such and give you an identity.
People suffering from anxiety disorder might not have the ability to identify the cause of their mental disorder. But by watching horror clips, they can put a face on an intangible feeling.
Things that work in instinctive levels, such as music, tend to do things for us that we don’t even know they’re doing. That’s why we go to concerts with loud music to try to alter our feelings and emotions.
The same goes for horror movies; they help people go to a different space where they can alter how they feel. People are not afraid of man-eating aliens, but they might be afraid of some kind of apocalypse, and horror films let them release that.
Fear Can Bring Pleasure
Some individuals enjoy being scared when they can frame the fear within their preferred space, like those provided by fiction movies.
According to research by the University of Chicago, sufficient detachment can result in positive feelings in relation to fearfulness. This simply means that some people love being scared, as long as it’s in a protected setting.
The sense of control over fear is why some people love horror. With scary movies, you can turn it off at any given time. You can decide to watch all of it or walk away. In a way, horror is like a pressure cooker that relieves tension.
Stops The Hamster Wheel
Individuals who suffer from anxiety understand the pain of having constant spinning thoughts. Horror can help to stop the wheel via a simple technique called “distraction.”
Scary movies force you to focus on one thing, and not the thing that’s currently worrying you, but the demonic sister in the room or whatever monster it might be.
In these movies, your perceived threat shifts from the thing you’re worrying about to the character in the movies. And when the movies end, the feeling of anxiety goes away since the threat goes away.
Helps to Overcome Fear
Is there something you fear? Maybe it’s heights or rats, whatever it is, it has probably been featured in a horror film.
If you have a mental health condition or phobia, engaging deliberately with the things that scare you can help to prove you can handle your fears. This is referred to as “exposure therapy,” a technique commonly used by psychologists.
Individuals who’re not ready to watch IT to get rid of their fear for demonic clowns should not rush in to watch the movie. They should take things slower, maybe a small scene or part of the show that addresses their fears. Once they’re used to it, they can increase their exposure slowly.
The primary aim here is to make the brain realise that the thing you fear can’t harm you since it’s just on TV.
Can Place You in Fight or Flight Mode
Scary films can benefit anxious minds just like physical exercise does. These movies tend to stress your body.
When your body notices something stressful occurring, it draws activity away from critical thought and abstract thinking. Disturbing thoughts get pushed to the back burner since you’re grounded in your body. By doing this, it relieves you from any negative thoughts and anxiety you might have.
Know Your Limits for Horror Films
Even if you enjoy a good scare, some horror films have too many terrifying things. So it’s wise to select movies you’re comfortable watching.
For example, you might love spooky movies, but you might not have the stomach to watch Slasher movies like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Selecting the right horror clip will most likely benefit your mental health the most. It’s a matter of discovering your sweet spot of scary enough. A movie shouldn’t overwhelm you with too much fear, but it shouldn’t bore you, either.
Watching a horror film allows you to escape the real world for a while or relax from a stressful day. It also affects mental health positively by reducing stress, anxiety, and fear.
However, if not monitored, it can increase isolation and disconnection from people. So you must know the habits related to the consumption of any horror films or any media and mindful of how they make you feel.
If they make you feel too anxious, aggressive, or lethargic, set boundaries and focus on getting- well-activities such as getting enough sleep and exercising.