Next Level Binging
May 25, 2022
Sometimes we stress about life all day to the point where we are about to blow up. It can be pretty painful dealing with the weight of our problems. A lot of people love getting home after a long day at work or school and plopping down on their couch or their bed to relax. Sitting down to watch Netflix with our favorite bag of chips and drink is an amazing feeling.
There’s debate on whether or not Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, or Prime video has a bad or good effect on your mental and physical health because it can have both. For example, your favorite show could be The Walking Dead or even My Little Pony. The only problem is that The Walking Dead will cause more negative brain stem changes than something more positive, like My Little Pony.
When Austin University did a study on mental health, they determined that binging has a correlation with your mental health instead of direct causation. This is why mental health could be affected by the kind of TV shows you subject yourself to. The two biggest mental health concerns are anxiety and depression. Both of these problems could cause more severe issues such as insomnia, severe mood fluctuations, extreme fatigue, and physical activity disturbances.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is an umbrella term for many different brackets of bipolar, anxiety, and “loneliness” disorders. Depression is characterized as persistent feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and mood swings that significantly impair your daily life. Social media platforms such as TikTok attempted to raise awareness by showing a variety of different video choices. The biggest one is when a person is acting like they’re in class and the teacher asks the class “What is depression?” It fills in with a student saying, “Constantly feeling sad” or “being sad.” From here it can go two different ways. One, it could use a sound of a song that they lip-sync to in an attempt to describe what depression is, or two would be them using their voice to describe what it feels like.
Because we know so little about depression and its other causes, it’s hard to say what things may or may not cause this. According to Harvard University, studies have shown that stressful or triggering life events such as TV violence, verbal aggression, and even affectionate scenes can cause this. “Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, and stressful life events.”
Anxiety ultimately works the same way as depression and relies on triggers to spark these emotions. Watching a TV show or movie could raise some concerns of your own and cause unreasonable thinking. Events that happen in TV shows are typically fake, or very rare. So when we worry about that event happening in real life, it is an irrational fear.
Insomnia and Mood fluctuations
When we get into a movie or show, it’s sometimes hard to control ourselves and stop where we’re at. The urge to continue will make us want to stay up, and therefore we don’t get the necessary sleep for our day-to-day functioning. At first, it’s an optional choice known as “revenge bedtime procrastination”. After getting your body into that routine for a long time, your body will develop the need to stay up, which is insomnia. Insomnia is just a term used to describe the trouble of falling and staying asleep.
Mood fluctuations are very common among teenagers, children, and even adults. The more hormones we produce, and the older we get, allows more emotions to form. Humans tend to allow emotions to take over. When we let emotions take over, we are disabling ourselves from participating clearly in daily activities. Studies have shown that emotions have an astronomical effect on cognitive behavior, hindering our ability to think clearly, reason appropriately, remember things, and learn, subsequently connecting to attentional capacities.
The Big Problem
The overall impact these have on a person’s life can tear someone down to the core. Depression and anxiety alone could be harmful to a point of physical harm, but adding in insomnia and mood fluctuations can make these worse. A human can go about 11 days without sleep before dying of exhaustion. The most fatal diagnosis of insomnia is familial insomnia, which is complete insomnia. From here it is a complete chain reaction leading to dementia and, finally, death.
By watching TV for an extended period of time, you often retain the feelings the show portrays. For instance, if a character you love a lot dies, you will be extremely disappointed and upset, and in some cases cry. Your brain takes in all of those built-up emotions and over time they can begin to pile up, causing an emotional overload.
A True Survivor
Depression, anxiety, sleeping patterns, and insomnia are topics that we know little about. It’s hard to pinpoint a certain response for one of those topics. However, there are many people who are willing to speak up about what they have gone through.
In my own experiences, watching television has made me isolate, over-think, and even made me more irritable. Television, although It can be debated, can cause me to change as a person for a certain amount of time. This is mainly due to the fact that when I watch television, I isolate myself and lose the connection I have with the world. During the pandemic, we all stayed home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but that was the time when a lot of people’s mental health was affected. According to ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, about 60% of individuals experienced depression, 53% experienced sleep disturbances, and almost 47% experienced irritability.
To sum it up, by watching TV I decided to not spend time with my loved ones, which in turn made me self-isolate, and finally caused mood disturbances.
Although I’ve only brought up negatives, television isn’t only hindering lives. It also benefits functioning and comprehensive lifestyle choices. Children all around the world watch educational shows such as Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Team Umizumi, and Word World. teaching children numbers, colors, shapes, patterns, and life lessons. These give children an excellent opportunity to gain an advantage over other kids. The shows use techniques to entice children with bright colors and fictional characters to make it more enjoyable for them, making it easy to teach them life lessons and cognitive skills they can use in the real world.
Television has many positive and negative characteristics that make it unclear whether or not to like it. When it comes down to the final decision, no amount of studies, statistics, or peer advice can make the decision. It all depends on your point of view.
Getting rid of television altogether is easier said than done because 82% of the American population has a television. So it’s your choice, do you still want your friends and children binging their favorite shows?
The Breaking Blue authors, writers, and editors all know that battling alone in any fight, whether it be depression or insomnia, can be very stressful and painful. You are not alone, and you will never have to fight alone. If you are having a life-threatening crisis, or an overwhelming moment you cannot handle, call the suicide prevention hotline at (800)-273-8255 or the Samaritans hotline at (800)-932-4616.