Pause The Podcasts: Your Love Of True Crime Could Be Impacting Your Mental Health

There is no denying the appeal of true crime. Trying to unravel why someone would do the unthinkable and take another person's life is fascinating. A study conducted by the United Kingdom's University of Law found that true crime offers us a safe space to observe the darkest side of society, while licensed mental health counselor Kimble Richardson opined to WRTV Indianapolis, "In a way it helps us to feel more secure if we can have a sense of why did someone do this terrible thing."

However, there have been concerns over the consumption of true crime, especially after the Ryan Murphy series, "Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story," was met with backlash, stating it was disrespectful to the victims of his crimes. It put the ethics of consuming true crime into the spotlight.

Whether or not listening to true crime podcasts or binging the latest crime documentary series is ethical is not the only issue. Now, studies suggest that consuming too much true crime may be impacting your mental health.

True crime can make you feel fearful of your safety

When consuming too much true crime, you can begin to feel as though there are serial killers lurking all around you. Amanda Vicary, the head of the psychology department at Illinois Wesleyan, who has studied the impact of true crime extensively, told Vice, "I'm convinced I'm going to be killed on a daily basis and I know logically that is probably not going to happen," adding, "It's hard to keep logic in mind when you're watching and hearing these stories all the time."

Although serial murders make up less than 1% of the annual cause of all murders in the United States each year, listening to loads of crime podcasts can have you thinking there is danger lurking around every corner. Psychologist Chivonna Childs, Ph.D., shared with the Cleveland Clinic that too much true crime can make you untrusting of every stranger you encounter.

"You may find yourself worrying whether the person you're chatting with at the grocery store isn't actually as nice as they seem," Childs said. "When you start asking yourself questions like, 'What if they have dead bodies in their basement?' you probably need to take a step back and consider your crime intake."

How much true crime is too much?

Don't worry, you don't have to stop consuming your favorite true crime podcasts completely. Dr. Childs told the Cleveland Clinic that each individual has their own tolerance level for this type of content. It's key to understand your feelings when getting your true crime fix. "Pay attention to any decline in your mood, like if true crime doesn't feel as good to you as it used to," she said. "Look, too, at how your body responds to the stories. If your heart is racing, or you feel tense or anxious, or you have moments when you think, 'Oh, God, I can't take this anymore,' those are all signs."

While true crime can impact your mental health, it's fine to entertain your interest as long as you feel it isn't having too negative of an effect on your daily life.

Jessica Micono, a forensic psychology professor and co-host of her own true crime podcast told Vice, "Some of us enjoy that little adrenaline dump from true crime, and others like playing armchair detective, and that's all fine, that's entertaining," adding, "It's important to honor those dark interests; it's also important to engage in light activities as well."