October 27, 2022
When we get scared, we experience a rush of adrenaline and a release of endorphins and dopamine. The biochemical bleeding zombie rush can result in a pleasure-filled, opioid-like sense of euphoria. According to doctors and psychologists, there are also additional physical, mood, and blood pressure.
A study in Pittsburgh exposed volunteers to an "extreme" haunted house. Most reported a "significantly higher mood" after the experience.
All made possible by some crafty chemistry.
Thanks to the release, for example, of the hormone oxytocin, a good scare with others can be a bonding experience.
Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone" because the body releases it during hugging, childbirth, and sexual activity.
A scary experience can give you the same rush as a 10k run, thanks to endorphins released during exercise.
Fright also releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. So, a boost in serotonin levels can help to lift your spirits.
"From a psychological perspective, [short-term fear] can show the person they are capable of surviving and can regulate their emotions […] and can respond appropriately for self-protection." — Dr. Mayra Mendez
A frightful encounter may also have physical benefits. A 2009 study showed that fear could boost the immune system's leukocyte (white blood cells) count.
Now you know why you should count Halloween as one of your favorite holidays. Get out there and get scared!
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