Binge watching emerges as major mental health threat in U.S.

Binge watching emerges as major mental health threat in U.S.

A person sitting in front of the television set without getting up for hours is probably aptly known as a couch potato. With internet revolution, laptops, tablets and cell phones have replaced the television sets to a great extent for the couch potatoes as they watch their favorite shows online, one after the other. This new trend has been named as binge watching.  

With platforms like Netflix, binge watching series or episodes of a show at one go has gained a cult across the United States. As per studies, the new trend is taking a toll on the mental health of Americans as many are reported to suffer from mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

As per a study conducted by the University of Toledo, titled “Viewing Patterns and Addiction to Television among Adults Who Self-Identify as Binge-Watchers,” the trend of watching shows or episodes  at a stretch over an extended duration of time is emerging as new mental health threat as it may lead to depression.

According to the study that was presented at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd annual meeting in Chicago surveyed 408 individuals aged 18 years and older. The researchers asked the participants to record the number of hours they watch television every night. They were also asked to record their sentiments and feelings they underwent during the hours of watching.

Nearly 77 percent of the participants watched TV shows at least two hours at night and 35 percent reported watching more than two hours. The researchers discovered that those who watched television even for two hours reported feeling more depressed and gloomy than the ones who watched it for less than two hours.

TV watching and depression share a link

There is no study or research to support as to whether binge watching leads to depression or depression leads to binge watching. Prior to the above study, another study that was presented at the International Communication Association’s 65th annual conference also tried to establish that binge watching TV series increases depression and anxiety in people.  

However, another segment believes that binge watching occurs due to depression and loneliness. They associate binge watching as a way out to isolate oneself from rest of the world and it helps a person with depression to disconnect from his/her condition.  

Despite several studies conducted considering both the possible angles, no definite conclusion could be drawn. However, every study has been able to prove that depression and television watching do share a link.

Road to recovery

As per the research, the rate of binge watching in the U.S. has increased threefold since 2014. This is emerging as a possible threat to mental health. Binge watching is not restricted to any age, gender, class or community, thus the nation’s entire population is at risk. The trend is further encouraged by platforms such as Netflix and Hulu that offer large amount of TV shows and movie services at a very affordable cost.  

Watching TV for hours together is considered to be a part of sedentary lifestyle that involves no physical or mental activity. Such a lifestyle is often linked to several physical issues such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Depression is one of the most common mental conditions in the U.S.  

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, it is important to seek immediate medical help. You can contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to access information about various depression rehab centers in the U.S. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our certified experts who can guide you with the treatment plan for depression and help you get in touch with one of the recognized rehabilitation centers for depression.