Can a Scary Movie Cause PTSD?

Scary movies are a popular form of entertainment that millions of people enjoy around the world. While some people find them thrilling and exciting, others may experience anxiety and fear while watching them.

However, there has been an ongoing debate about whether scary movies can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this article, we’ll explore this topic in more detail.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after someone has been exposed to a traumatic event such as physical violence, sexual assault, natural disasters, or accidents. People who suffer from PTSD may experience flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and other psychological symptoms that interfere with their daily life.

Can Scary Movies Cause PTSD?

The short answer is no. While watching a scary movie may cause temporary fear or anxiety for some people, it’s unlikely to cause PTSD. PTSD requires exposure to a traumatic event in real life, not just on screen.

That being said, it’s important to note that everyone’s reactions to scary movies are different. Some people may be more sensitive to the content than others and may experience lingering fear or anxiety after watching a particularly frightening movie.

The Importance of Self-Care

If you’re someone who experiences anxiety or fear while watching scary movies, it’s important to practice self-care before and after watching them. This can include:

  • Avoiding scary movies altogether if they trigger negative emotions
  • Watching with friends or family for support
  • Taking breaks during the movie if needed
  • Engaging in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation before and after the movie

The Benefits of Scary Movies

Despite their potential for triggering negative emotions in some viewers, scary movies can also have some benefits. For example, they can provide an adrenaline rush and a sense of excitement for those who enjoy them. They can also serve as a way to confront and overcome fears in a safe and controlled environment.


In conclusion, while scary movies may cause temporary fear or anxiety, it’s unlikely that they will cause PTSD. However, it’s important to practice self-care and be mindful of your reactions to scary movies if you’re someone who is sensitive to their content. Remember that everyone’s reactions are different, and it’s okay to avoid scary movies altogether if they don’t bring you joy or entertainment.