How horror films can help people suffering from anxiety

In the last couple months, I've watched the movies "Psycho," "Nightmare on Elm Street," "Scream 1," and "Scream 2" for the first time.

I know what you're thinking. "What took you so long to watch these classics?"

I was the little girl who was terrified of Ursula the Sea Witch as a kid. So, honestly, I put off watching these movies because I was scared.

But upon watching them, I realized something I never knew before. That, while watching horror flicks, my anxiety dissipated.

Any thoughts that would normally stress me out would completely vanish and instead, the only thought that would consume my mind was, "Oh my god! Is Johnny Depp's character going to die?" or "Is Norman Bates or his mother the murderer?" And something about this was welcoming, even therapeutic, compared to thinking about real life stressors.

I have since found that this feeling is  common.

As one Reddit user said, "It creates a different anxiety, an anxiety that isn't about me, ya know?"

Researchers have actually found that scary movies can help reduce the anxiety of people who suffer from the disorder.

Psychology Today reports that adrenaline created by an abrupt blast of stress, like by watching scary movies, "sends a flood of oxygen-rich red blood cells through your body, boosts your immune system, and signals your brain to start releasing painkilling dopamine and endorphins."

Abby Moss, writer for Broadly, interviewed Dr. Mathias Clasen from Aarhus University in Denmark, who has been studying the psychological effects of horror movies for 15 years. He told Moss, "Exposure to horror films can be gratifying when the negative emotions caused by the film are manageable. ... We know it's not real. "

"The genre allows us to voluntarily—and under controlled circumstances—get experience with negative emotion."

There are many different treatments for anxiety. Medication. Exercise. Being outdoors. And even scary movies. There is no wrong way to cope. Just find the therapy works for you.

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