The comfort of the bed with something to munch and something better to binge watch is what our Sundays look like now. The suspense around the new Game of Thrones season has forced people to re watch all the other seasons- in one go.

Collins name Binge Watching was the Word of the Year 2015

“I’d also like to make the argument that binge watching shows has the negative side effect of increasing our anxiety while simultaneously decreasing our ability to tolerate anxiety.  Binge watching can be used as a form of ‘rescue anxiety,’ which is a negative coping strategy. What I mean by rescue anxiety is something we do to distract us from our current worries,” says Dr. Melissa Miller in her article.

Many studies have found a correlation between binge watching and depression & anxiety.

But this competition of watching more comes with a hefty price, taking a toll on our physical and mental health. Following are the effects of binge watching

  • Depression

A 2015 University of Texas study noted that loneliness and depression were common factors in any sort of binge behaviour — including binge watching. Ultimately, researchers said, the lonelier and depressed people are, the more likely they are to binge watch TV. And this phenomenon works in reverse with viewers perceiving the shows as an alternate reality and spiralling down in the emotions of it.

  • Antisocialism

Binge-viewing tends to be a pretty isolating activity, since most of the watchers prefer to binge watch alone. Spending time binge watching forces you to not be involved in other social activities and one misses out on human interaction. However, if the same is done with some friends, you get a common thing to talk about and discuss.

  • Weight Gain

Binge watching involves sitting at one place for long hours while munching something at all times and sometimes, drinking soda too. What we eat is not healthy and doing no physical activity puts us to the risk of gaining weight and become obese. However, the pleasure of watching TV and the cliff-hangers don’t leave us with much choice but to sit and continue watching till late hours.

  • Sleep Cycles Distortion

The adrenaline rush with each episode keeps us up all through the night. Our measure of time becomes our episode. Apart from just staying up all night, increased screen time reduces our ability to sleep right and the right number of snooze hours. Engaging with screens before sleeping increases electrical activity in your brain and could release a stress hormone that makes it harder to go to sleep. The light from those screens has also been shown to delay the release of melatonin, which helps you sleep.

  • Addiction

Arun Sakia, a 21-year-old student says, “there was a time when I would sit for seven hours straight and finish a series that was the most popular. I wanted to be a part of the talks that would discuss this. I did not realise that watching so much turned into an addiction. I could not sleep until I saw a minimum of 4 episodes. I got my connections cut and gave up my smartphone till I could control my watching.” Jonathan Fader, PhD, a clinical psychologist, recommends breaks between episodes and not snacking while you watch, which could lead to mindless overeating. Chatting with fellow fans about the show can also make your binge habit healthier, since it pulls you away from the main screen and allows you to reflect on what you’ve just watched.

Anjali Chhabria, a psychologist at Mind Temple says, “There are many ways to de-stress after a hard day’s work. One of the most common methods is by watching the television or streaming something from the internet. Recently, people have started ‘binge watching’ which means that they have periods of watching multiple episodes in rapid succession. This can sometimes lead to becoming addicted to it. Such an addiction can have adverse effects on one’s physical and mental well being.

It can lead to obesity, strain on the eyes, insomnia and increase the risk of diabetes. Many studies have found a correlation between binge watching and depression & anxiety. Social isolation caused due to spending too much time watching a series can lead to feelings of loneliness and becoming antisocial. Such an addiction may cause difficulty in self-regulation as the person may find it hard to stop watching which could lead to him/her neglecting their responsibilities. Teenagers also face a risk of developing depressive feelings or feeling a void, immediately after a session of binge watching. In some cases, the individual may engage in binge watching as a defense mechanism to avoid facing reality. In such a scenario, when fantasy takes over, the person may suffer a breakdown while actually facing reality.

Taking breaks in between episodes, exercising or moving about the house and discussing the content with friends can help reduce the effect of binge watching. Further, setting a time-limit for watching a series, including other activities like reading, swimming, etc. in between may also prove to be helpful.”

Dr Sanjay Guha, a general physician says that he has seen an increase in the number of overweight young adults with poor sleep schedule and reduced attention spans. There is recurrence of headaches and my first suggestion to them is to reduce their tv time.”

With Netflix and Hulu binge watching TV shows has become our past time. People are flaunting records of watching three seasons a day to completing an entire series over the weekend. Binge watching has become such a big thing, that Collins name Binge Watching as the Word of the Year 2015. But what is more important that we choose wisely before clicking on the next episode.