Recently, a lot of studies have come out documenting the phenomenon known as binge-watching TV shows and how it could possibly relate to depression. During the past years, binge-watching has become a highly popular way of spending free time. However, specialists are warning that there have been cases of problematic binge-watching that act as coping mechanisms against stress and loneliness.
Could all those hours spent watching our favorite TV shows really amount to nothing more than a mechanism to distract us from the anxiety or depression we feel? Studies have shown that there is a significant link between anxiety-depressive syndrome and motivation to watch TV series, which especially concerns escape motivation and motivation to deal with loneliness.
Furthermore, motivation to deal with loneliness, escape motivation, and motivation to spend free time have consequences on the relationship between anxiety, depression, and problematic binge-watching. This research is aimed at classifying what could constitute normative binge-watching behavior as opposed to unhealthy, compulsive, and problematic forms of this behavior.
The findings of these studies have proved that extensive binge-watching is an antecedent of stress, loneliness, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. In this sense, too much binge-watching could be considered a predictive value of anxiety-depressive syndrome.
So, bearing this research in mind, what we know is that binge-watching could be a symptom of depression and anxiety, and it might be worth looking into. However, the question still remains open whether binge-watching TV shows could cause or exacerbate already existing anxiety and depression.
As with most behaviors, there is probably a case of determining how much is too much. Most activities that we do for fun could potentially posit a problem when done compulsively and excessively. It is important to keep these activities in check and to be alert to whether our form of entertainment is just that, or a form of distraction to prevent us from working on our mental health issues.
Do you feel like those hours spent watching Netflix or Hulu are alienating you from your family and friends? Are you more invested in those fictional characters than in your own life? Have you developed other unhealthy habits or stopped taking care of yourself? Answering yes to any of these questions is quite likely a sign that we need to start to consider reducing the amount of time devoted to watching TV.
It is always worth reminding ourselves that it is also healthy to have activities that we do for fun or entertainment. Not all is work and study. Likewise, it is important to learn to be vigilant about our habits so that we remain in control of them instead of them controlling us.