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Can Horror Films Relax Those with Anxiety?

Anxiety is a disorder when you feel worry and panic that disrupts everyday activities. According to Anxiety UK, 12.8% of Britons are diagnosed more than anxiety than they were fourteen years ago. You would think that watching horror movies that evoke fear and panic would be the wrong genre for someone with anxiety to see. Horror films can actually help ease symptoms of anxiety when you know you are in a safe environment and that what you are see is not real.

The plot of horror films normally follow a protagonist who feels a danger lurking around. Their cries have fallen on deaf ears. It is not until later that the protagonist is proven right and fights the monster. According to Vice, living with anxiety feels like there is a sound or a shadow on every corner that hints at a monster that no one can see. You feel like there is something there but you cannot prove its existence to anyone.

In horror films, you know that the monster is real and can be fought against. The monster has a name, a body, and a weakness. Seeing the protagonist come face to face with the monster and win the battle in the end makes someone with anxiety wish that the same thing could happen to them where they get validation. Being scared watching horror films is considered a rational thing to be afraid of compared to being afraid of things that are not there in the eyes of other people.

Watching a horror film is a way to escape the fears of real life. Horror films can be an addiction of its own. Psychotherapist John Kuziel says the hypothalamus triggers the fight or flight response which pumps up adrenaline, glucose, and cortisol in our bodies. This rush of adrenaline is what makes people want to see more horror films. Horror films make people with anxiety feel at ease because, according to Dr. Mathias Clasen from Aarhus University, watching a horror film is a voluntary act and under controlled circumstances which will make someone feel safe compared to real-world dangers. Just like when going on a rollercoaster, those with anxiety feel better watching horror films with someone else knowing they are getting through the same thing together. Horror films are not to be treated like a cure for anxiety but they can be a helpful tool to managing it.

Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centers in the UK. Castle Craig provides consulting psychiatrists who diagnose associated mental illnesses like anxiety states, depression, ADD, PTSD, eating disorders, compulsive gambling, and compulsive relationships. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).