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Yikes... This Is What Binge-Watching Does To Your Mental Health

Spoiler alert: It'll make you want to go out with your friends tonight. In real life.

Binge-watching: truly one of life's greatest pleasures, right? Ehhh, maybe not anymore.

A team of researchers from University of Texas at Austin wanted to find out what mental factors lead people to binge-watch, and their results don’t bode so well for anyone who’s wasted away entire Saturdays with Frank Underwood, Walter White and Olivia Pope.

The researchers asked 316 millennials, aged 18 to 29, about their binge-watching habits. For the purposes of this study, that meant watching two or more episodes of a single show in one sitting.

The participants then filled out a questionnaire that measured their depression, loneliness, and self-control (in other words, how able they were to resist Netflix’s dooming auto-play feature).


Three-quarters of participants admitted to binge-watching. Of them, 75 percent indulged in just one to three hours of TV, thirteen percent said they watched up to five hours, and just five people reported watching seven or more hours.

Researchers found that people who binge-watched were lonelier, sadder, and had less-self control than people who didn’t binge-watch at all. One possible reason, they noted, was that those people may use TV “to stay away from their negative feelings.”

But even though binge-watchers may THINK they’re escaping by indulging in more and more hours spent holing up with Hulu, they might actually be harming themselves even further because of the guilt associated with it.

“Indeed, binge viewers may find themselves clicking the ‘Next’ button for one more episode after another, even though they realize that there are things to do the next day or they need to sleep,” the researchers wrote.

The study also revealed some interesting things about our TV-watching habits. For example, most people watched on weekends than weekdays, and the majority of people binge-watched by themselves.

The study also revealed that binge-watchers lean more toward comedies and romances when it comes to their movie choices, though the top five shows were all dramas: “One Tree Hill,” “Breaking Bad,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Orange is the New Black.”


To be clear, this study isn’t saying that binge-watching necessarily makes you depressed, but it does say that people who feel sad or lonely might be letting their TV addiction get the best of them. Keep this mind when “House of Cards” returns to Netflix next month.