Binge-Watching TV Linked to Depression, Loneliness

Kevin Spacey House of Cards Emmy

Put down that remote control, binge watchers, and get some fresh air.

A new study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin discovered that viewers who gorge on multiple TV episodes in one sitting may be doing so to cope with feelings of depression and loneliness.

“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,” said Yoon Hi Sung, author of the study.

The study, which included more than 300 people ages 18-29, also linked binge-watching to a lack of self-control, fatigue and obesity.

Binge-watching has become a featured functionality of streaming services including Netflix, which struck a chord with original programming like “House of Cards” by offering all episodes of a series at once.

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  1. Den Activist says:

    Binge watching is a form of escape and coping mechanism that’s very therapeutic.

    Perhaps they should ask if binge watchers have overexcitabilities (OE) that require them to have alone time so they can bounce back and deal with everyday life.

  2. Alice Pollock Roushia says:

    This show is one of the best shows on Netflix!!!! The next 2 shows I want to watch is Scandal and Revenge. Sounds like a good snow day to cuddle on the couch with a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate.

  3. Lynn says:

    This is completely ridiculous. Everyone has hobbies. Is golfing, knitting, arts and crafts, reading etc leading to depression also since most of the time people do those things by themselves? Loving to watch TV Series or playing video games are hobbies. Everyone likes what they like. Binge watching is also how most be relax when they aren’t working full time to survive in our economy. The news should start focusing on problems that matter instead of all of these new so and so leads to depression made up stories.

  4. Mike R says:

    Ever heard of not being able to put a book down?Pretty much the same thing as binge watching a great series.

  5. Bill says:

    Wow, what a breakthrough!

    Guess what, depressed and lonely people binge on most anything – alcohol, food, sex, etc.

    TV? What a shock.

    Zero effort to separate coincidence from causality.

  6. Samson says:

    Let me live how i want to live, trying to make me feel bad about it with your redundant studies on supposedly lifestyle choices isn’t going to work, I’ll put down my remote one of you university study nerds have finally gotten around to curing cancer.

  7. Binge-watching has become a featured functionality of streaming services including Netflix, which struck a chord with original programming like “House of Cards” by offering all episodes of a series at once.”
    Seriously?! I would watch my Grandma binge watch soap operas and chain smoke all day long. This was in the 70’s and 80’s. Why is the article even mentioning ” House of Cards?” Geez, people’s coping skills with depression run the gamut. Ugh….I think I’m going to go binge on some ice cream.

  8. How is this an “article”. It is one paragraph and contains no follow up of any kind. It just simply states a random factoid from a study.

  9. DrVideo says:

    Actually one should be more aware of watching tv in their doctors office or their local DMV. It has been suggested that in certain government or liberal controlled venues that the old technique of subliminal messaging is being used, which is quite easy to do digitally. I have heard reports of people becoming unexpectedly agitated and physically ill from watching tv’s in those venues.

  10. Ban says:

    I’m sorry but this is just a steaming pile of bs

  11. Tracy Stephensen says:

    Read the study. People that are depressed or are lonely may binge-watch. It does not mean that there is anything wrong with binge-watching. It means that Variety hires writers with low reading comprehension.

  12. I’ll bet the ‘study’ was commissioned and paid for by a cable company. Netflix will now commission a study that shows that binge watching makes you smarter.

  13. PROMO says:

    It would be interesting to apply the “binge watching syndrome” on reading books. How would you describe people who take a book, let’s say a 150 pp. novel, and read it in 4-7 hours hours in its entirety? A binge readers? I never heard that. And what about people who actually turn on the TV set in the morning and forget to turn off in the evening, watching and/or listening the whole day the deluge of diluted news and tepid stories? – aren’t those a “general” binge TV watchers too?

  14. guest says:

    I can attest to this as my daughter is depressed and going thru a hard transition from high school to college.

    • Sandiva says:

      What you say is true, I think, but binge reading is more interactive and engages more parts of the brain. When I read, I find myself taking breaks or putting the book down to re-think and question what I’ve read. Or use imagination to reconstruct what I can’t see. I don’t think television allows for that same kind of mental exercize. Maybe when the t.v. goes off, the experience ends, so ending the excitement…leading to a kind of depression? Here I go, questioning again. Mostly because someone mentioned this study at Easter dinner yesterday, and it rings true for my partner. He seems to have replaced real life with the people in his shows. it’s distressing.

  15. Jeremy Adams says:

    If you do a heavy workout before binge watching, you won’t feel depressed.

    • Stephen D says:

      Completely agree. I work out 5 days a week, eat well, etc. I still like to binge watch. Admittedly it does fill some lonely time, but so what?

  16. Bill says:

    I think TV is an easy “out” for those with nothing else going on it their life and it is sad that they are stuck on the couch and missing out on being part of something real.

  17. Joe Boltonn says:

    I’ve just watched 12 episodes of SGT BILKO…PLEASE KILL ME!

  18. Jim Roof says:

    And, in a related story, wearing heavy wool overcoats reduces outside air temperatures.

  19. nerdrage says:

    They got the cause and effect reversed – depressed people binge-watch to cope; binge-watching doesn’t cause depression, its a pre-existing condition.

    • Sandiva says:

      Good point. Symptom, not cause. Hmmmm…

    • William says:

      Aren’t you just restating exactly what the article says?: “viewers who gorge on multiple TV episodes in one sitting may be doing so to cope with feelings of depression and loneliness.” How did they get it so wrong?

  20. rkeyo says:

    Watching TeeVee at all leads to drastically lowered IQ and prolonged drooling.

  21. Nbr1 says:

    Of course it’s depressing – there hasn’t been anything worth watching on TV for decades.

  22. paul says:

    gee ya think? Stupid shits spending time and money cause they can spend time and money. these ‘researchers’ need a lesson in cognition. but…. WE ALREADY KNOW.

  23. McShane says:

    I haven’t owned a TV in about 15 years and I don’t miss it one bit.

  24. barkway says:

    Typical scientists. Wrong association. Depressed and lonely people watch more tv because they are depressed or lonely (it doesn’t cause it). For many, particularly the elderly, it is their only (or one of few) source(s) of relief or comfort.

    • William says:

      Why are so many comments blaming “the scientists” and saying the incorrect causation is inferred? If anything it seems like just the opposite? : “viewers who gorge on multiple TV episodes in one sitting may be doing so to cope with feelings of depression and loneliness.” – theorizing that depression leads people to binge watch, not the other way around?

    • nerdrage says:

      Yeah, I wonder how many of the long-term unemployed binge-watch. Netflix is cheap entertainment and it’s not like they have to get up early to get to work.

      But was it the scientists who got it wrong, or the shoddy journalism here?

  25. james noel smith says:

    Yeah, but I got all the laundry done.

  26. Joe E in the IE says:

    Quick, give it a name so billions of taxpayer research dollars can be spent at thousands of universities to come to the same conclusion:

    Cause unknown, no known cure.

  27. lcky9 says:

    It’s NOT DEPRESSION it’s BOREDOM.. to COLD outside.. goes away every

  28. Coach Dozier says:

    No kidding….everyone sort of knows that. Everything we do in life is a coping mechanism……3 episodes of netflix show is a lot less harmful than drugs or promiscuous sex though……binge watching is here to stay.

  29. edwardo says:

    Serial watching the NEWS will definitely cause depression and anxiety! and that is the way they want it. Want to feel better? STOP watching the news on TV and now the internet for a month and I guarantee you will feel better, and you will find that the world did NOT end!

    • I quit taking the daily newspaper for this very reason. Nothing but bad news, it’s the same stories just different names.

      • lcky9 says:

        Ya but the thing here is YOU have no touch with reality.. you can ignore a truck coming at you on a highway but CLOSING your eyes will not give you a chance to prepare to get out of the You have to learn to use it for INFORMATION only and go on with your life.. What you expect is someone paying attention to make sure you make it if something bad happens because you were so DELICATE you can’t deal with reality.. hope you don’t have any kids that depend on you for their future

  30. John Shea says:

    A new study suggests that reading bad reports of even worse studies can make you depressed.

  31. Winkie Po says:

    I didn’t know Kevin Spacey was lonely and depressed, drinking booze while binge watching. Wonder if he was binge drinking as well.

  32. Carbona says:

    “Put down that remote control, binge watchers, and get some fresh air” So … the study actually (if you read it) suggests that binge watching may help with depression .. how does this author go from that to this line? I suspect his bias blinded him .. I also suggest this science reporter did not actually read the study.

  33. Carbona says:

    The article says that binge watching is used to “cope with” already existing depression, NOT cause it .. no connect between the article and the headline/conclusion and probably no connect with anything on this page and the actual study. Bad science reporting.

  34. Gnrlriles says:

    A link to the article (or at least a provision of more specific info like methodology and exact findings) would be greaaaaaaaat.

  35. JT Streeter says:

    I think that this study is BS. Some people like to watch their shows without commercials or waiting for weekly installments. Also, others like to re-cap on the story lines before a new season starts.

  36. Michael Pax says:

    I watched entirely too much T.V. through the age of 21 or so, then completely gave it up about 15 years ago – and I thank God for that! I don’t even own a TV, and I don’t miss it a bit. I wish my parents had limited my TV watching time. Aside from the waste of time, with today’s grossly immoral content (not evident, of course, to those engrossed in TV), watching TV is like connecting a sewage drain directly to one’s brain. The more people who give it up, the better.

  37. Bob Suyak says:

    Binge watching is not defined, so this is kind of a bogus article. I wonder how much us taxpayers had to fork over for another BS study. Seems like someone could be a masochist if they binge watch, depending on the series.

  38. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on THB Files and commented:
    I’ve been watching too much TV so far but I’m gonna have to put the remote and do something like going out for a walk, ride a bike, exercise and stuff like that. My brain might be froze for television watching. I must been brainwashed by watching too much TV.

  39. leisafs says:

    I totally agree with this article. After being immersed for hours in the lives of various characters, it is depressing when you hit the last episode and there is no next up.

  40. Matter Keel says:

    The internet reports “Watching TV is Bad”, got it. When I go outside, can I bring my smart phone with me?

  41. Kent Lemon says:

    Watching the soul crushing, depraved sewage put out by the leftist cultural Marxist machine is enough for any sane person to despair. Kill your TV, read the classics, and find happiness.

  42. Syd says:

    Smash Your Television

  43. Dutch says:

    Here we go, new laws coming to control binge watching.

  44. Mikey says:

    Binge watching? ANY watching of TV these days is depressing.

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