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Watching Horror Movies Can Help People Cope With Anxiety

For some people, even the thought of watching a horror film fills them with a deep sense of panic and dread - but, for others it can actually have quite a surprising effect.

Anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety will know how completely consuming and debilitating it can be but according to one woman, watching terrifying horror movies can work as a coping mechanism for the mental health illness.

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels


While it does sound weird for someone who suffers from feelings of fear, panic and general uneasiness, to watch something specifically manufactured to prompt these feelings, many people with the condition have found solace in doing so.

Broadly writer, Abby Moss, found herself on Reddit asking people if she was a psychopath because she couldn't understand why she found horror films as a therapeutic break from her ongoing internal battle with anxiety.

Although she knew it was no alternative to seeking genuine medical help, Abby spoke to Dr Mathias Clasen from Aarhus University in Denmark, as he's been studying the psychological effects of horror movies for 15 years.

"Exposure to horror films can be gratifying when the negative emotions caused by the film are manageable," he told Abby. "Moreover, there's psychological distance when we watch a horror film. We know it's not real - or at least, some parts of our brain know it isn't real. Other parts - ancient structures located in the limbic system -respond as though it were real."

Dr Clasen went on to explain that this provokes a fight or flight response within us, but in a controlled environment where no genuine harm can realistically get to us.


"I'm not surprised to learn that some anxious individuals find horror films therapeutic. The genre allows us to voluntarily - and under controlled circumstances - get experience with negative emotion."

Anyone who's looking to put the therapeutic horror film theory to the test need look no further than Netflix, as the online streaming giant is hosting a series of spooky films and series to keep us going in the run up to Halloween.

The Haunting Of Hill House has made the headlines this week for making people so frightened they're sick, and it's now available to stream online.

New series Haunted gives "a chilling glimpse into the first-person accounts from people who have witnessed horrifying, peculiar, extraordinary, supernatural events and other unexplained phenomenons that continue to haunt them," and it's definitely worth a watch.

Featured Image Credit: A24

Topics: Entertainment, Mental Health, TV News, Anxiety, TV Entertainment

Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Junior Journalist at PRETTY52. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the team in 2017. Contact her on

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