By Anna Ajayi

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: In your search for that excitement and the adrenaline rush watching horror movies can provide, do well to keep your mental health in mind.

Horror movies keep us on the edge of our seats, but is that all there is to them? Are there hidden dangers, apart from the obvious scary scenes, that you should be concerned about?

Well, there’s more to it. Horror movies use psychological tricks that play with our minds, creating the illusion of suspense and danger through clever manipulation of images and sounds. Even though your brain understands that the threats are not real, your body reacts as if they were real.

These films are carefully crafted to trigger specific emotions like tension, fear, stress, and shock. As a result, they can prompt the release of hormones in your body, including norepinephrine, cortisol, and adrenaline, all from the autonomic nervous system.

You might notice the effects of these hormones by the increased heart rate, and tension. Let’s delve deeper into the effects of constantly watching horror movies.

The psychological effects

Constant exposure to graphic and disturbing content can have lasting psychological effects such as:

Desensitisation: This simply means that repeated exposure to violence, blood, gore, and terror can make you care less about real-life violence and pain, and you become emotionally detached from the real world.

Anxiety: The suspense and tension in horror movies can trigger anxiety and stress responses. This anxiety can keep one up at night, even long after the movie is over, causing individuals to have intrusive thoughts. This is the fear of fear.

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Nightmares and sleep problems: Watching horror movies before bed can lead to cause nightmares, insomnia and bad dreams. These disruptions in sleep patterns can affect your mood, thought process, and productivity.

The mental health effects

Scary movies don’t just play with our minds, they can also tamper with how we feel and these are how:

Post-traumatic stress: For people who are particularly sensitive to frightening imagery and get scared easily, horror movies can trigger symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Increased fear and paranoia: Horror movies can intensify your existing fears and instil new ones, which can lead to increased levels of fear and paranoia. These feelings can spill over into real-life situations, making it difficult for you to concentrate without picturing the scary imagery of an actor from the horror movie.

Depression and mood swings: Horror movies are often watched for entertainment, the negative emotions they evoke can contribute to feelings of sadness and depression. Constant exposure to distressing content can exacerbate these mood disturbances over time 

Healthier alternatives

Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives that can provide entertainment without negatively impacting our mental health. Here are some suggestions:

1. Comedy: Laughter truly is the best medicine. Watching comedies can make us laugh, feel good, and release happy chemicals in our brains.

2. Drama: Drama series and romatic dramas are better alternatives to horror as they are more emotionally fulfilling and relaxing.

3. Adventure or fantasy films: These genre of movies can take us to imaginative worlds, giving us an escape from real-life stress without making us too anxious.

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4. Documentaries and educational films: Stimulate your mind and IQ by watching documentaries and educational films on topics that interest you. Learning something new can be both entertaining and interesting.

Tips for watching horror movies

If you’ve read the above but want to keep watching scary movies regardless, here are some tips to consider:

1. Moderation is key. Just like with anything, it’s best to not overdo it. Don’t watch scary movies too often or for too long to avoid getting too used to the scary stuff and end up desensitised.

2. Know your limits. Be aware of how certain scenes make you feel. If some parts trigger excessive anxiety and make you too scared or nervous, it’s totally okay to skip them.

3. Watch it during the day. If you still want to enjoy a horror movie, try doing it during the day. This might make the scary images bother you less and help you sleep better.

4. Another tip is to watch scary films with others, as they can help you feel closer to reality. Then there’s the option for cuddling too, which can help you feel safe.

Anna Ajayi is a lifestyle journalist with a flair for life and people. Reach her at


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