This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Scream

Humans are generally unable to ignore the sound of screaming. A parent at a birthday party might beg to differ, but when the sound comes out of nowhere, it immediately grabs our attention. This reaction makes sense. Humans are social creatures and we associate screams with either fear, pain, or anger. Hearing one means that another person may be in trouble. As shown in a 2015 study published in Current Biology, screams are meant to bring other people running. 

As fascinating as that study is, however, it doesn't cover the way screaming affects the person who needs help. In fact there aren't any studies on that topic at all. Instead, we must rely on the science of both fear and anger. As both emotions inspire the human alarm system, the way those emotions affect the body changes what happens internally as we're screaming. While people can scream in excitement or joy, these are unique variations. More often than not a scream is associated with either anger or fear.

The science of emotions

It doesn't matter if the cause of a scream is real or simulated, as explained by ABC News. In both cases, a person's body will react by setting off the fight or flight response, part of which means screaming to let others know there is danger.

At the same time, adrenaline floods the body causing changes in blood flow. Threats prompt our body into action, which causes blood to flow mostly to our extremities so we can run or fight as needed. Our pupils dilate to take in more light and improve our vision, and our heart rate goes up while respiration increases.

In the case of fear, our cortisol levels go up — otherwise known as the stress hormone. When we get angry, however, our cortisol goes down but our testosterone goes up, which affects muscle use and perceived strength, according to Medical News Today.

All of these reactions happen at the same time when we're screaming. One day we may find that screaming affects these reactions in specific ways, but for now we have to rely on the general science of emotional reactions.