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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Lim Sock Ling and Dr Eki Wari on August 29, 2022

How Does Halloween Affect Your Mental Health?

Does your mental health suffer during the Halloween season? While it might be hard to avoid things that scary you, there are things you can do to help control the fear before it turns into anxiety or depression.

Fear of halloween min scaled

Do you get scared easily during the month of October? Halloween can have a profound impact on your mental health if you do not like horror.

Everywhere you look, there are advertisements for thriller films or haunted houses that pop up on your social media or TV commercials.

It’s nearly impossible to escape seeing something scary during this time of year. This can be a trigger for some people.

In this article, we’ll discuss how fear impacts your mental health and provide tips for getting through Halloween and the month of October stress-free.

Halloween And Mental Health Disorders

Halloween can trigger mental health issues in some people.

Although meant to be an entertaining holiday and nothing more, Halloween makes it seem ‘fun’ or ‘cool’ to dress up as a serial killer, psychopath, witch, ghost, or dead person.

Many Halloween parties encourage people to channel their dark side, offering prizes for the goriest costume. And while much of this is meant to be fun, it can be very troubling to see someone coated in fake blood or with a fake weapon piercing their body. This is especially true for children.

For those who are sensitive to scary things, it can lead to fear, anxiety, and stress that lasts even when Halloween is over. Some people may even experience samhainophobia or the fear of Halloween.

In some cases, exposure to Halloween parties, trick-or-treating, or scary costumes can trigger anxiety attacks in people with post-traumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, causing them to relapse. For children, it can lead to nightmares that impact growth and development due to lack of sleep.

How Does Fear Impact Mental Health?

Haunting images that lead to fear can impact your sleep and even damage parts of your brain.

Some people like being scared. They consider it to be a thrilling adventure. For some, not showing fear can be a sign of masculinity.

However, research shows that fear can interrupt certain processes in the brain that allow us to read non-verbal cues and regulate emotions before acting. This impacts our ability to act ethically as well as our decision-making and thought processes, making us susceptible to intense and overwhelming emotions. All of which have negative consequences on our minds and bodies.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, your mind and body are connected. Each emotion is linked to a specific organ in your body.

To better understand this, we asked TCM Physician Lim Sock Ling to explain. “Based on TCM’s principle of holism, our internal organ system and emotions are related. Fear is associated with Kidney while anxiety is associated with Liver Qi Stagnation,” stated Physician Lim.

“Constant fear for prolonged periods could compromise the Kidney system. This could to mental issues, such as depression and anxiety. It could also cause fertility issues and impotence, orthopedic conditions, and other health issues, such as heart palpitations, hair loss, hearing issues (tinnitus), and insomnia,” Physician Lim stated.

Fear also impacts our ability to form long-term memories. It causes damage to various parts of the brain, including the hippocampus, making it hard to control depressive and anxious thoughts. For children who are scared, the world appears scary and their memories will confirm this.

Tips For Supporting Your Mental Health During Halloween

To help you get through the Halloween holiday, it’s best to avoid things like Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. However, Halloween decorations and scary objects can be found everywhere during the month of October, including grocery stores, gas states, and clothing outlets.

For this reason, you may need to adopt some tactics that help calm you down on the spot when you are exposed to things that scare you. For example, breathing exercises can help control your breathing and stress levels. These can be done on the spot if you see something that scares you.

You can also adopt a TCM approach to managing stress, anxiety, and depression due to Halloween fear by focusing on balancing your emotions and organs.

According to Physician Lim, “TCM adopts the approach of easing Liver qi, clearing Heat and Fire, resolving frustration, and alleviating depression to calm the mind and Heart.”  

Acupressure

Acupressure can help to promote qi circulation, balance the body system, and calm your mind. To administer at home, you can consider do-it-yourself (DIY) acupressure by massaging the following points to aid relaxation: 

  • Yin Tang (EX-HN 3)
  • Bai Hui (GV 20)
  • Shen Men (HT 7) 
  • Nei Guan (PC 6)  
  • San Yin Jiao (SP 6)
  • An Mian

Herbal remedies

According to Physician Lim, An Shen Ding Zhi pills are commonly used to strengthen qi, relieve fright, calm the mind, and stabilize emotions. The following herbs are also used to promote sleep and calm the mind: 

  • Jujube Date
  • Duanwood Reishi
  • Licorice Root
  • Poria cocos  
  • Fingered citron

The medicinal mushroom Lingzhi (also called Reishi) has also been shown to reduce the stress response in people who are anxious. It works by regulating the nervous system’s response to stressful stimuli.

Focus on sleep

If you can, avoid watching scary movies before bed that may impact your sleep.

You’ll feel more anxious and nervous during the day if you do not get proper amounts of rest at night. Try to avoid watching scary movies before bed as this could interrupt your sleep.

Physician Lim recommends drinking a warm cup of milk, taking a warm shower, and listening to soothing music before bed to promote quality sleep for a restful night.

If you need a little help getting to sleep at night, there are herbal sleep formulas to help improve restlessness caused by anxiety.

Lastly, Physician Lim states, “Stretch to your sides to promote Liver qi circulation. Consider herbal tea, such as rose tea, chamomile tea, and chrysanthemum tea, to ease Liver qi, promote relaxation, and clear Liver Heat.”

References

  1. University of Minnesota. 2016. Impact of Fear and Anxiety. 
  2. Social Psychiatry And Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2015. The role of fear in mental health service users’ experiences: a qualitative exploration.
  3. Cleveland Clinic. Samhainophobia (Fear of Halloween).

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