Are horror movies bad for your mental health?

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October is considered horror month in many countries, pumpkin heads, creative costumes, fake blood and indispensable horror movies filled with suspense and gore. However, we also need to pay attention to our mental health when watching movies of this genre.

1. Physiological effects of horror movies

Horror movies contain psychological tricks to create the illusion of suspense and danger through techniques of processing images, sounds, and plots. Although your brain perceives threats as not real, your body simultaneously perceives them as if they were present.
Psychologists explained: When you watch horror movies, your heart pumps blood, adrenaline flows and your attention narrows, even when you know you are at home or in the theater and there is no real danger. This is similar to when you go for a walk in an amusement park, where you can feel terrified while also knowing you are safe.
Does watching horror movies have any effect? Horror movies are designed to evoke certain emotions such as stress, fear, or shock. They can cause the release of hormones in the body such as norepinephrine, cortisol, and adrenaline from the autonomic nervous system. You may notice a physiological response from these hormones through pupil dilation, increased heart rate, and muscle tension.

2. How do horror movies affect sleep?

Is it good to watch horror movies? While adrenaline contributes to the overall experience of the movie, heightened stress can make it harder to fall asleep. The post-horror euphoria that some people feel is not a relaxing feeling. So even for thrill-seekers, horror and suspense movies can make it harder for them to fall asleep.
A good night's sleep is extremely important for both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that sleep loss or poor quality sleep can negatively affect how the brain processes emotions the next day and can increase negative emotions.
Poor sleep quality is also linked to mental health problems. It is estimated that 90% of people with depression have poor sleep quality. Several other studies have shown that poor sleep in older adults increases the risk of death from suicide.
However, other studies also show that sleeping continuously for 3 nights or more can lead to perceptual distortions, delusions and hallucinations. The researchers note that, for sensitive individuals, sleep can also be affected by the inclusion of images from movies in dreams, meaning that screen terrors can trigger nightmares. , which disrupts REM (deep sleep) sleep causing disrupted or poor quality sleep.
Khó ngủ vì căng thẳng
Những bộ phim kinh dị có thể khiến bạn khó ngủ hơn.

3. How do horror movies cause anxiety?

People with anxiety are more likely to be negatively affected by horror movies. Chronic anxiety increases sensitivity to startle stimuli, the researchers explain. As a result, it makes people who are already stressed and anxious more likely to react negatively.
People who are sensitive to anxiety are more likely to experience negative effects from watching horror movies. The tendency to fear intrusive thoughts and images can be triggered and increase levels of anxiety or panic. Viewing horror images can lead to unwanted thoughts and feelings. Thus, people who experience anxiety sensitivities often have a need to avoid those experiences.

4. Positive effects of horror movies

So, is watching horror movies harmful? Although full of gore, horror movies can also have positive effects on viewers. The researchers say that people who watch horror movies tend to like these types of movies for a variety of reasons. So for most viewers, that's a positive effect.
Watching horror movies can also be an opportunity to make it easier for people to face one's fears as the viewer endures the horror, enjoys the fruits of cinematography and can be especially true for viewers with certain mental health disorders.
If someone is being treated for an anxiety disorder or OCD, horror movies can provide a useful opportunity to face fears and develop confidence that you can, in fact, endure be scared and it's not dangerous for you.
However, you should talk to your doctor or psychologist before adopting to see if this method is right for you personally.
OCD rối loạn ám ảnh cưỡng chế
Nếu bạn bị mắc chứng rối loạn lo âu hoặc OCD, phim kinh dị có thể mang lại cơ hội hữu ích để đối mặt với nỗi sợ hãi

5. Some Possible Ways to Watch Horror Movies in a Healthy Way

Find the right type of movie for you:
An important tip for watching horror movies is to find the level of movies you can control and which series suits your preferences. For example, not everyone will enjoy gore or mind games. If bloodshed is more likely to haunt you long after you've seen it, try a supernatural movie.
Set boundaries for yourself:
The most important thing you need to keep in mind when watching horror movies is your comfort. There's no harm in avoiding horror movies, the researchers say, whether it's because you want to avoid violence or the mentality of wanting to avoid unwanted images and feelings.
Furthermore, you should assess your current feelings and how you will be affected by what's projected on the screen, especially if you tend to be overly fearful or anxious. If you find yourself short-tempered and anxious, skip a horror movie and watch something lighter.
Take breaks between viewings:
If parts of the movie make you uncomfortable, you can close your eyes or go outside for a breather. You have no shame in turning away from a particular scene that sends chills down your spine obsessively.
Keep the lights on when watching movies:
Watch with the lights on or during the day, this can be especially helpful if you have a agoraphobia or extreme fear of the dark.
Watching movies with friends:
You can watch scary movies with other people, which can help you feel more secure. Watching horror movies in groups enhances enjoyment because people feel safer when they feel scared.
To watch horror movies safely, keep track of how you feel as you experience them. You should pay attention to how you feel the next day and whether your sleep is affected. You can always leave the show if you feel uncomfortable or don't like the physiological reactions in your body.
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Reference article:
This article is written for readers from Sài Gòn, Hà Nội, Hồ Chí Minh, Phú Quốc, Nha Trang, Hạ Long, Hải Phòng, Đà Nẵng.


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