Awareness Health

Binge-Watching Blues: Know the Hidden Mental Health Risks


Yes! Binge-watching is typically a new behavior that is boosted during Covid-19. It refers to sitting at one place for a prolonged period of time and watching online videos or multiple episodes of series at once, i.e., Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, etc. The studies suggest that isolation is one of the prime reasons for binge-watching because people have very limited resources to cope with stress. However, binge-watching has a direct effect on mental health as well as physical health due to less socializing, sleeping, and exercising. It also increases cardiovascular disease, depression, sleep problems, and behavioral disorders.

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Mental Issues Caused by Binge Watching

Several mental health issues are directly connected with binge-watching, as below:

  • Anxiety: It is the prime rule that the more screen time you spend, the more anxious you get because when you see others relatively happy or successful, you start to compare yourself with them, ultimately gaining anxiety.
  • Personality Disorder: when you spend more time with a particular person for a longer period, you try to imitate or carry on some points of that particular individual. The same goes when you watch a series for longer and start to act, behave, talk, and walk like that character.
  • Behavior Addiction: when series, movies, or videos are not viewed under control, individual addict behavior can be of anything such as gambling, video games, etc. Individuals can also experience various roles that make them feel like they are living in that world and are experiencing it.
  • Depression: when one spends most of the time online watching series or videos, he or she eventually gets isolated. When this continues for a longer time, one loses all the skills of socializing and ends up being alone, which causes depression. The young generation is more prone to this compared to other age groups.

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Potential health risk

Besides mental health risks, there are some serious health risks too, which are as follows:

  • Cognitive Decline: It has been observed that viewing screens for longer periods has poor verbal memories. Individuals over the period forget things easily, like important meetings, or have more trouble coming up with words.
  • Unhealthy Diet: Since you are foregoing sleep, consumption of unhealthy meals, eating carbs, etc. is very normal. Usually, people binge-watch at night since they are consuming all this at night and are not exercising enough to digest it, eventually boosting weight gain. This leads to obesity, which will further increase the risk of heart disease or diabetes.
  • Sleep Issues and Fatigue: Sleep plays an important role in your overall development. A drop in the quality of sleep will lower your overall progress because when you sleep less, your body feels tired and you can’t carry out the work effectively. This will affect your memory and confidence. All in all, when you take longer to sleep or sleep before morning, your body is unable to restore or repair itself properly.
  • Social Isolation: people who binge-watch more isolate themselves more because the more time you spend watching, the more you will feel like there’s one more episode’. This will decrease the socializing skills of an individual. It has been observed that binge-watching manages negative thoughts, so people use this for self-regulation, but this comes with loneliness and depression.
  • Physical Inactivity: With the increase in binge-watching, there is an increase in physical inactivity. According to the National Institution of Mental Health, health problems such as heart issues, obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, etc. are caused by a poor lifestyle that has a major impact on your health. The more active you are, the more productive, happy, and successful you will be. Lack of physical activity decreases lifestyle and eventually causes more health issues, and all this is caused by binge-watching.

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Tips to Manage

There is nothing wrong with catching up with your favorite show or videos, but it is extremely important to set a limit for it, as it is correctly said that excess of anything is dangerous. Television or screen time has a huge amount of negative impact compared to a positive one. So managing both viewing and limiting tips is as below:

  1. Balance Viewing: viewing includes another exercise such as gym, walking, sports, etc.
  2. Keep Light Turn On: With the lights turned on, there are fewer chances of eye damage, and you don’t lose sense of time.
  3. Limit Yourself: Watch in portions; watch one at a time; don’t exceed more than 2 episodes; keep the excitement going for the next day.
  4. Deciding Healthy Snack: eating carbs while viewing alters it with a healthy snack such as fruits or dry fruits rather than chips or pizza.
  5. Setting a Time Limit: Today’s smartphones have the inbuilt feature of setting a screen time limit before the ideal bedtime, i.e., 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., which will limit your use of your phone.

Binge-watching is the newest trend, and this is nothing wrong when done within limits and taken care of. Moreover, it has been seen that nowadays, binge-watching is not for fun or self-regulation; it is more about status. High society or rich kids usually stay up late for parties, and binge-watching makes you feel in trend or with trend when you are not doing so, so you are considered out-dated. Each coin has two sides, i.e., positive and negative. It depends on us what to look for.

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