Anxiety and Scary Stuff

A few months ago, I wrote a blog entry about anxiety and described what it is and what the symptoms can be. Today, we're going to be talking about anxiety and how the Halloween season can exacerbate it.

1. Horror movies aren't fun for everybody

Horror movies are some people's cup of tea. They love the spooky elements, the jump scares, the gore, the prosthetic makeup, etc. However, for some folks, scary movies are completely unappealing and might even trigger feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety works by overestimating the likelihood of the worst case scenario happening. Anxiety is also illogical, as many anxious thoughts have no evidence. This is where anxiety can be worsened by watching horror movies.

Horror movies are usually illogical in nature. However, there are a few horror movies that, while unlikely to occur in real life, could happen. Movies about serial killers (such as the Halloween franchise) are a perfect example. Is it unlikely that somebody is going to break out of a psychiatric hospital and go on a killing spree that lasts over the course of several movies? Yes, that's very unlikely. However, the mind of an anxious person may cling on to the faintest possibility of reality. This can cause intrusive thoughts, heightened feelings of worry, and a myriad of other anxious behaviors.

2. Anxiety and Halloween parties

For many adults and teenagers, Halloween season means parties. Parties in and of themselves can be a difficult experience for people who struggle with anxiety. For people who struggle with anxiety, the added layer of costumes and, perhaps, alcohol, can cause feelings of nervousness and increased negative self-esteem. There can be a lot of pressure to wear a "good' costume and self-comparison can occur in this situation.

Anxiety can stop people from doing things that they enjoy. Maybe you want to go to the party, but your feelings of anxiety are so overwhelming that you avoid the event. This negatively reinforces your anxiety and makes it more likely that you'll avoid anxiety provoking events int he future.

How do you break this cycle? You start by implementing coping skills that you can use in situations where you experience overwhelming anxiety. Working with a counselor can help you add more coping skills to your toolbox. After implementing coping skills and processing your feelings of anxiety and anxious thought patterns with a counselor, then, ideally, you could move towards a place where you feel more confident and less anxious attending social events.

Emily Teegarden