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Benefits of Horror Movies for Your Mental Health

Horror movies – do you hate them, do you love them, or do you love to hate them and hate to love them? They can fuel your nightmares or have an addictive binge-watching effect on you. Maybe you love to watch every scary scene, or perhaps you keep a pillow on hand to quickly cover your face every time a scary scene plays.

Well, what might surprise you more than the scene that catches your pillow off-guard, is the fact that horror movies are good for your health. That may seem crazy, but it’s true. So, let’s get into the positive effects of horror movies on your health.

Why Do People Like Horror Movies?

“Why do people like horror movies?” – it’s an interesting question. Horror movies have an undeniably addictive quality to them, and the attraction can be very different for everyone.

Maybe it’s an on-again-off-again relationship for you, a repulsive/attractive “I shouldn’t be watching this” sort of fascination, or the thrill of watching something that you shouldn’t be watching.

The reasons for liking horror films can be as varied as the people who watch them and the various themes of horror films. Some are gory and visual. Some are thrillers with no actual scary visuals, while others may involve top phobias – like spiders, sharks, or clowns.

Perhaps if we understand what the effects of horror movies on the brain are, then we can answer the questions, “Are scary movies good for you?” and “Why do people like horror movies?” more easily.

The Effects of Horror Movies on the Brain

Horror movies have a thrilling, goose-bump-inducing, repulsive/attractive, and addictive quality to them. The effects of horror movies on the brain are an activation of the regions of the brain involved with the processing of emotions, evaluation of threats, rapid decision making, and a release of adrenaline and dopamine.

The content of a particularly well-executed horror film can dig deep into our conscious and unconscious mind, drawing on all our fears, phobias, and primitive physiological responses to create a truly astonishing emotional and physical response within us.

The Positive Effects of Horror Movies

So, you probably guessed that horror films affect your brain, but we promised to inform you of the positive ways that it affects you and your brain functions.

Here are some of the positive effects of horror movies on your brain.

Improves Your Fight or Flight Response

Watching a horror movie triggers your flight or fight response. In regularly activating the areas of your brain that deal with primitive fight and flight responses and decision making, you’re training your mind on how to respond and cope with fear, stress, and perhaps even a life-threatening situation.

Watching horror films can help you to fine-tune your fight or flight responses in a safe, controlled environment. It also helps to build up a tolerance to scary situations – meaning we can make better decisions when faced with a real-life situation like a robbery, injury, or a car crash.

Tackles Your Phobias

Horror movies give you the perfect platform to face your demons up close and personal. Demons, as in, phobias and fears. Fears can be rational, but phobias are irrational – they are unexplainable fears we have of particular objects, animals, beings, or situations.

Eliasz Nowak knows all about phobias, particularly selachophobia –  a fear of sharks. Eliasz works at Casino Online PL, informing the public of the very real dangers of online gambling. But the real threat of web scams and playing at mediocre casinos doesn’t compare to his fear of sharks.

It’s easy to face your rational fears of scams and real-life scenarios with education and information. But facing your irrational phobias can be a little more tricky.

One of the positive effects of horror movies is that in this controlled environment, you can develop a better understanding of them, make rational conclusions, and perhaps learn to manage them a little better.

Lifts Your Mood

When you watch a horror film, your brain releases adrenaline – your fight or flight molecule. Your heart rate can also increase by up to 42% in particularly scary parts of the film. But, it’s not only these effects that alter your state of being – but your brain also releases dopamine, your happy molecule.

This means that each time you watch a horror film, you’re also getting a bit of a high from the dopamine being released into your system. No wonder watching horror movies is addictive.

So, are scary movies good for you? Yes, they lift your mood, and what could be better for your mood and your health than some natural dopamine to lift your spirits?

Distracts You from Anxiety

A particularly good horror film can distract you from your worries by drawing you into its plot. Since your body is also actively involved in the movie – with heart rate changes, dopamine and adrenaline release, and moderating your flight or flight response, it’s easy for you to get caught up in the movie and forget about whatever was worrying you.


The effects of horror movies on the brain are undeniable and well-known – the frights, the release of dopamine and adrenaline, and a heightened heart rate. However, the health benefits of watching horror movies are much less apparent.

Who would have guessed that watching something terrifying could result in some positive health benefits for you and everyone else? Now that you know, you can spread the word – “Horror movies are good for your health.”

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