Is binge-watching making you depressed?
Published Monday, March 21, 2016 9:20AM EDT
Binge-watching has become a popular way to watch your favourite TV shows. But new research suggests that excessive TV viewing may be associated with higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
Researchers from the University of Toledo in Ohio examined the relationship between binge-watching and mental health. They surveyed 408 participants from across North America in January 2015.
The participants were asked to complete a survey about their TV viewing habits. They were also asked if they exhibit signs of anxiety, depression and stress, PhD student and lead researcher Monita Karmakar told CTV's Canada AM.
Karmakar and co-researcher Jessica Kruger found that 77 per cent of the participants reported watching TV for two or more hours on average per day during the past week.
Of the 408 participants, 35 per cent identified themselves as "binge-watchers," and this group also reported having higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, Kruger said.
She said it's not clear if binge-watching causes mental health problems or if poor mental health causes increased TV consumption.
"You can potentially be depressed and then watch television, or after watching television you can become depressed," she said. "So further studies need to be conducted to determine what comes first."
Karmakar suggested that one of the reasons why binge-watchers reported higher levels of depression could be due to the relationship they forge with the show and its characters.
"You might be really invested in your shows. You might be emotionally invested in the characters," she said. Then, depression may sink in when a show finishes for the season and binge-watchers have to wait months before another season begins, she added.