Are Horror Movies Bad for Your Mental Health?

In the month of Halloween, the vibe is all festive and spooky. From pumpkin heads and fake blood to horror movies, all of these little elements create a perfect Halloween ambiance

Apart from Halloween, some of us do enjoy watching horror movies here and there throughout the year. We love the jump scares, creepy music, and terrifying visuals that horror movies have.

But are they good for us? That is the question. Though watching scary movies is a way to release the pressure, horror fans are often found facing a range of issues. It can be as small as being unable to sleep peacefully at night or having delusional visuals.

Let’s check out what negative or positive impacts horror movies can have on our mental health. 

Potential Negative Effects Of Watching Horror Movies

Below are some of the ways in which horror movies can impact us negatively. 

1. It Can Cause Poor Sleep

Every time we watch a horror movie, it gives us an adrenaline rush. This adrenaline boost is one of the main reasons horror movies are so popular. 

But this hormonal rush can also be a reason why you can’t sleep properly. A huge adrenaline rush can elevate the state of our body so much that it gets hard for us to relax and fall asleep.

It’s a known fact that sleep is vital for our bodies. A poor sleep cycle can have a negative impact on our day-to-day activities and brain functioning. 


2. Horror Movies can Take a Toll On Your Mental Health 

Research shows that poor sleep can negatively impact how our brain comprehends situations and processes emotions. It mainly affects emotion processing the following day and intensifies negative emotions.

Along with that, poor sleep is also associated with the issue of depression

Research also shows that if a person has a prolonged sleeping disorder (3 or more consecutive nights), then that person can suffer from perceptual distortions, delusions, and hallucination-like conditions.

Horror movies can also trigger nightmares in sensitive individuals, which are proven to be a considerable disturbance in our deep sleep (REM) condition.


3. They Can be a Root Cause of Physiological Problems

Horror movies are filled with psychological tricks where the sounds, lighting, and images create an illusion of suspense and danger.

Even if our brain is well aware of the fact that there isn’t an actual threat that can harm us, our bodies still register them as threats. 

Psychologists state that while watching a horror movie, our heart starts pumping more blood and the adrenaline flow is higher. Along with this, the attention span gets narrowed, and we start immersing ourselves in the world of the movie.

This is why even if we are at home or in theaters and there is no actual danger around us, our body keeps registering the movie scenes as dangerous. 

However, those who are good at watching illusions and processing them for what they actually face no harm from watching horror movies. 

But those who can’t will experience emotions like tension, fear, stress, or shock. These emotions generally cause the secretion of hormones like norepinephrine and cortisol, along with high adrenaline. 

These hormones can lead to physiological responses like increased heart rate, muscle tension, and pupil dilation. 

illusion of danger

4. May Lead to Anxiety Disorder

Medical experts agree that the sense of fear can negatively impact persons who have even minor symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety disorder is different from the regular anxiety that we feel when we are at a new place or going for a job interview. 

In the case of anxiety, the person suffers a temporary unpleasant feeling, but it can also motivate them to work harder and do a better job.

Whereas anxiety disorder is a feeling of fear that stays with the person for a prolonged time and can often get intense and debilitating. This type of anxiety negatively impacts a persons day to day activities.

It can get so extreme that the affected person may hesitate to enter an elevator, dark places, or, in the worst case, leave their house. 

Thus, anxiety-sensitive people are advised to avoid watching horror movies or scary images to safeguard themselves from unwanted thoughts and feelings. 

anxiety and panic


Thus, to conclude, it can be said that there are some potentially negative impacts of watching horror movies but the magnitude of these depends on the mental and physical condition of the viewer. 

Therefore, people having chronic symptoms of anxiety and sleeping disorders should probably avoid watching horror movies too often. Instead, following the curated home workout programs and doing some exercises will strengthen both your mental and physical health. 

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