Over Thanksgiving break I spent the majority of my time just relaxing and watching TV. I am addicted to Netflix and watched multiple episodes of Grey’s Anatomy each day. While watching my Netflix, my mom kept yelling at me saying to stop watching because it causes depression and makes me loose brain cells. I thought she was absolutely crazy when she was saying that so I decided to look it up. That is why I am researching if this is really true. Will watching too much TV really make me have depression?
There’s a direct cause and effect relationship between how much time you spend watching TV and the likelihood of getting depression in the future. This means that if you watch a ton of TV over time, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with depression.
Below are three scientific studies that were published to provide support on this theory:
Sociologists at the University of Maryland analyzed data from over 30 years that showed the relation between happiness and media use. They found that “happy” people watch about an hour less of TV everyday than the people with depression do. The people who were most happy watched television for about two hours a day or less. They spend their time with other people such as friends and family.
In Scotland a study using 4,000 people was conducted. This study found that 66% of these adults who watched over two hours of TV everyday were obese and had a higher rate of anxiety and depression. “The correlation between depression and television viewing habits was strong enough that good exercise habits had no ameliorating effect, even though exercise is usually prescribed as a panacea for depression and other types of mood disorders,” (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2010).
In the US Nurses’ Health Survey, there was data collected for over 50,000 women for 14 years. This data included the womens television watching habits and their health disorders. This data showed that the women who watched over three hours of television each day are 13% more likely to get depression in the future than those who worked out more and didn’t watch TV as much. These people who did not watch TV as much lowered their risk of getting depression by 20% (study published in American Journal of Epidemiology, 2011).
These results do not directly prove that watching a lot of TV can cause depression, there could be confounding variables involved in all of these cases. Examples of some confounding variables are previously diagnosed disorders, obesity, alcohol habits, smoking habits, etc.
Additionally, depression has also been linked to other binge behaviors besides watching TV, like heavy drinking.
“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,” Yoon Hi Sung said. Fatigue, obesity, and additional health problems are directly related to binge-watching. When people binge-watch they become distant from the real world, such as work and their family and friends.
How to Avoid This From Happening: Try to reduce the amount of time you watch TV to two hours a day or less. Some studies showed that people who watched over three hours were almost two times as likely to have obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that parents limit their kids to only watching TV for about an hour a day.