Binge-Watching TV May Be a Sign of Depression
Who doesn’t like to occasionally use a quiet weekend to relax on the couch and watch a season of one of their favorite shows? Surveys have shown over 60% of Americans admit to regularly binging on shows like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, but new research shows it might be a sign of deeper problems.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin surveyed 316 millennials to evaluate what might factors might be contributing to the popularity of binge-watching TV, and they found people are more likely to binge-watch television if they are lonely or depressed.
The researchers also noted these conditions are linked to other harmful behaviors such as binge eating and binge drinking.
The survey asked the participants, all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 29, about how often and how much they watched TV, how often they felt lonely, and examined various measures of depression and self-regulation.
Out of those who responded to the survey, 75% reported binge-watching. The studies also conceded they occasionally binged on television. Their suspicions from their own experiences proved correct, as the results showed a significant correlation between binge-watching and loneliness, depression, and having a difficulty controlling compulsions.
The researchers believe people who are experiencing negative conditions such as depression turn to behaviors like binge-watching in order to escape from negative feelings. The more feelings they watch, the longer they can escape. This behavior is what is known as avoidance coping strategy.
“This should no longer be viewed as a ‘harmless’ addictive behavior,” argue the authors of the study.
“Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way,” study author Yoon Hi Sung said in a statement. “Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously.”
The research is scheduled to be presented at the International Communication Association Conference in Puerto Rico this May.