Netflix Binge Watching and Depression, Which Comes First?
New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows there is a strong link between depression and loneliness and the amount of television we binge on in single sittings. We’re not talking channel surfing here. We’re talking about holing up for a weekend and watching a whole season (or two) of Game of Thrones.
Now it doesn’t surprise me that excessive TV watching and depression go hand in hand because when you are depressed you tend to isolate, and when you isolate you stay home. Beside sleeping, depressive people will use TV to escape, losing themselves in a movie, TV program or “America’s new addiction,” NETFLIX. What does surprise me is that binge watching TV series’ can CAUSE depression. Greeeeeat! One more thing to worry about getting addicted too and the negative consequences it causes. THANKS NETFLIX.
Which Came First?
This is one of those chicken/egg debates. Some say depression causes excessive TV watching and now this new study says it’s the other way around. Whatever the case may be, I think the main point with TV, as with anything that can become addicting, is everything in moderation. Obviously drug addicts and alcoholics have found out that moderation doesn’t work out too well for them so abstinence is the answer for drugs and booze but watching 10 episodes of Sons of Anarchy in a row may be considered excessive too (been there, done that!). Two or three episodes, at most, should be the goal.
Watching hours of TV at a time is the new technology-enabled method we’re using to try to stave off those nagging negative feelings. The more prone to addictive behaviors we are, the more likely we are to just keep clicking “next” at the end of an episode of Orange is the New Black.
Depression is a Serious Illness
Depression is a serious mental illness and I am not a medical professional. I can’t diagnose clinical depression versus situational depression. What I’m talking about, in this article, is binge watching Netflix and isolating yourself into a depressive state. That’s a horse of a different color. There is a solution to that which can be addressed by doing a few things.
- Limit the amount of TV watching you do. Set a limit and stick to it. If you can’t do that, then cut off your cable or internet for a week or two. Cancel your Netflix subscription, do whatever is necessary to restore your mental health. You are worth it!
- Get around other people. Go to a meeting, hang with friends, go to recovery events, volunteer, go to church, picnic in the park. Basically anything that gets you around other people.
- Ask for help. If doing some of the suggestions above proves to be too hard, because when you are depressed everything can be hard, then call a friend and tell them you need help. Ask them to take you to a meeting.
If doing these three simple things doesn’t improve your mental health then see a professional…PLEASE! Depression is nothing to play around with. It could be more serious then you just watched too many episodes of House of Cards which has put you in a funk.
Spiritual Malady or Depression?
Another thing that may be helpful is looking at yourself in an inventory (steps 4, 10, 11). Maybe you’ve been avoiding looking at something that needs to be addressed. TV is great for avoiding things. It won’t hurt to take an inventory to find out. I’ve never met anyone that got to the other side of an inventory that didn’t come out somewhat better then when they started. Your Netflix binge watching may be the result of a spiritual malady not a depressive condition.
The bottom line is too much of anything can become addictive and sometimes damaging. Addicts and alcoholics are already predisposed to become addicted to other things. Switching addictions is common for our people. We have to remain vigilant in our recovery and not fool ourselves into the, “it’s the lesser of two evils” bullsh*t. Unhealthy is unhealthy. Recovery isn’t just about not drinking or drugging. It’s about a whole new healthy way of life– body, mind and spirit.
Could you go without Netflix or TV for a month?
Peace, Love & Sobriety,