Many people of all ages look forward to the fun of Halloween each year with wearing costumes, attending parties, visiting haunted houses, and trick-or-treating. However, for those with a mental health condition, Halloween may be a time of heightened anxiety.

While some people enjoy gory scenes, bloody costumes and make-up, and the adhaunted-house-pumpkin1renaline rush associated with scary sounds and surprises at a haunted house, the holiday may be a source of triggers for heightened anxiety, panic attacks, and flashbacks for those with mental health conditions. This is especially true for those who have experienced trauma involving violence, torture, or death of another, and those with a condition that causes an overactive startle response, like PTSD. Scary settings with foreboding creatures and eerie sounds and screams can make trauma survivors feel as though they are in real danger.

There are also those who experience samhainophobia, a persistent and abnormal fear of Halloween, which may be rooted in a past negative incident related to the holiday. And with the recent spate of creepy clown sightings and movies depicting evil clowns, some may experience coulrophobia, a morbid fear of clowns.

For those who are more vulnerable to Halloween triggers it can help to have a plan to deal with triggering situations, choose less scary and more family-friendly activities, or avoid the holiday altogether.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed mental health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.

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