Halloween horros; What fear does to the body

Ellie Evans, Assistant News Editor

Walking home on a spooky October night, the sound of footsteps can be too close for comfort. Hearing a bone-shivering scream and a chainsaw quickly approaching, can leave you trembling.  Why?

According to research done by University of Minnesota, fear is considered a survival mechanism. When someone is experiencing a potentially dangerous situation, hormones are released through the body and into the brain. The three main chemicals that are freed into a section of the brain that deals with memory and reflexes are adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine.

The  ‘Fight or Flight’ reflex is what drives our behavior when faced with stressful situations. UMN researchers also found that once the human body is put into a stressful situation, it’s one goal is survival. Due to this, systems that aren’t necessary for fight or flight responses such as the digestive system are temporarily shut off.  More of the body’s energy is utilized to increase heart rate and blood flow to ensure rapid endurance. Senior Will Eakes has a phobia of bees, he explains, “My body reacts to fear by running away from bees.”

While eerie Halloween decorations and ominously carved pumpkins in the fall season may not necessarily trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response, according to Live Science reporter Mindy Weisberger, different phobias can generate anxiety. For some, little things such as hole-like patterns can cause extreme panic and provoke the feelings of fear into the brain. Junior Isabella Messick explains her personal response to her fear of bugs and roller coasters by saying, “I definitely shake and my thoughts freeze up.” The section of the brain that handles fear is called the Amygdala and it can regulate all systems of the body to respond to anxiety.

According to The American Psychiatric Association nearly 18% of U.S. citizens ages 18 and older have at least one specific fear. These definitive phobias can affect the everyday lives of people dealing with them. Once a body is experiencing the fear that follows with phobia triggers, logical thinking is replaced with emotions that can be considered staggering. The temporary restoration of logic causes such reactions like hallucinations.

Fear puts a large strain on the body, small amounts every once in awhile isn’t harmful to the body but, according to UMN researchers, chronic fear can be very damaging. The four main impacts that chronic fear has is physical health, memory, brain processing and reactivity, and mental health. Results of petrifying experiences can also include post traumatic stress disorder and economic costs to deal with such mental impacts.