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How Watching Horror Films Can Benefit Your Physical And Mental Health

“sit in darkness and watch horrific scenes”

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Content warning: This article contains the discussion of mental and physical illness violence which may be distressing or triggering.

When its dark outside and you’re all alone the last thing you probably want is be scared senseless, however some of us still enjoy frequenting the local cinema to sit in darkness and watch horrific scenes unfold before our very eyes. 

Benefit to Mental Health

It appears that the enjoyment of being scared is a rather human condition. From imagining someone is hiding under your bed to fearing a stranger is about to grab you in a darkened room. We’ve all done it, but why? This is not because we like to feel vulnerable; it is much more scientific than that. When we senses a threat, the stress hormone cortisol is released. This makes us feel anxious, thus triggering the flight or fight response. However, when our body realises it isn’t threatened, the hormone dopamine is released which can significantly benefit both your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Dopamine plays a vital role in controlling human emotions, behaviour and cognition. It has been used to treat people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, ADHD and drug addition due to dopamine communicating with the front part of your brain which is associated with happiness and reward. 

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Mental Illness Among Students

Levels of stress and mental illness among students in the UK are ‘alarmingly high’ as is stated in Education Correspondent, Sally Weale’s, article for The Guardian published early this year. Issues such as thoughts of self-harm, substance abuse to cope with stress, anxiety and loneliness were all distressingly high among those students surveyed. So perhaps if students watch horror films together, it could help them combat feelings of loneliness by them all experiencing waves of dopamine by not being directly threatened by the horror they are watching. 

Things to Consider

Though, it is worth noting that one’s mental health will not necessarily be improved by watching copious amounts of horror films, as everything should be taken in moderation in order to achieve the best results. However, watching horror films could be one of the many things students or young people could do as a collective activity in order to help raise their levels of dopamine.  

Benefit to Physical Health

It is not just mental health which dopamine is an integral in improving, but also physical health. It has been scientifically proven that dopamine can save lives. Doctors around the UK and worldwide use dopamine to treat many illnesses and discomforts such as low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, chest pain and even nausea and vomiting. 

What You Can Do

So, if you’re wanting to increase your levels if dopamine and feel better, get a group of friends together and put on a horror film! You could end up feeling much happier as a result.

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