By Brooke Katz

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the time of year for haunted houses and horror movies, and it turns out there may well be some health benefits to giving yourself a good scare.

“Every time someone jumps out and you scream then you immediately laugh, because we know we’re in a safe place,” said Dr. Christa McIntyre Rodriguez, an associate professor of neuroscience with UT Dallas. “That safe scare is what we really crave.”

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She said these scary events can serve as an outlet where you can release pent up fears.

The doctor said it can also help you feel stronger and sharper.

“We experience that sympathetic fight or flight response, where our heart rate increases, our lung capacity increases, our blood flow starts driving muscles so we can run fast if we have to.” Dr. McIntyre Rodriguez said. “We’re very alert and all of that can actually feel very good and empowering for people if they know that they’re actually safe.”

One study earlier this year even found horror movie fans are coping better with the pandemic.

It also found fans of so-called “prepper” films, about alien invasions or a zombie apocalypse, feel more prepared for the pandemic.

“All those things that scare us and wear on us, mortgage, student loans, debt, society pressure, all of that stuff is in you, but it’s not something you can scream about,” said Allen Hopps, the senior director at Dark Hour Haunted House in Plano. “So you come here, we put a face on that, and it’s a relief valve.”

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For Hopps, there’s the added benefit of the thrill of the scare.

“There’s a monster in my head, and then I can make it for real and see it walking around and see people react to it, ” Hopps said. “I think that’s the most powerful feeling in the world, that I had something in my head and now other people are reacting and responding to it.”

Dr. McIntyre Rodriguez said your teens are the most likely to seek out experiences like haunted houses and horror movies.

She said It’s a developmental stage, kids are learning to take risks and get out on their own. It can actually be good for them.

Click here for more information on the study.

Here is more from Dr. McIntyre Rodriguez:

Halloween Frights Can Have Scary Good Benefits, Neuroscientist Says

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(Originally Posted 10/28/2021)