Dave Michaels

Dave Michaels

Dave Michaels enjoys ice cream, whiskey, knitting, and being indoors-y...Full Bio


“Scare-apy”: Are haunted houses good for your mental health?

This month many thrill-seekers will go to haunted houses and seek out spooky, fear-filled experiences. At the same time, many people will opt to avoid scary things while wondering why anyone would choose to be afraid.

Fear is a complicated emotion that causes various responses and outcomes. Fear can provide an adrenaline rush, alert us to danger, or create obstacles.

Fear Provides Adrenaline Rush

For adrenaline seekers, fear is an essential part of the enjoyment. Under the right circumstances, fear can impact the brain in a positive way by causing a release of neurotransmitters that enhance mood and excitement.

For this to happen, it is important for the participant to realize that the scary experience does not pose a real danger. For example, a roller coaster or haunted house may seem scary, but the adrenaline seeker believes that they are truly safe.

Fear Alerts Us to Danger

Fear alerts us to danger and protect us from harm. Often the emotion of fear is felt before the logical part of the brain has recognized a danger. Therefore, fear is an adaptive and essential emotion that aids in survival and good decision-making.

The brain stem is known as the fear center of the brain and is responsible for the fight or flight reaction created in dangerous situations. This part of the brain is quick to react and send important information in the form of emotions.

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Image

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