August 6, 2017 6:22:26 am
A 26-year old marketing executive, who came to a hospital complaining of “depression and anxiety”, has been diagnosed with an “addiction of online binge watching”. According to the consultant psychiatrist who looked into his case, the man, who works in Gurgaon, had linked his symptoms to stress at the workplace and “interpersonal issues”. But the underlying problem was found to be something else.
“He wanted to watch entire documentaries online in one go, during normal sleep hours. A single documentary is two-three hours long. For two years, he kept binge-watching shows, which led to sleep deprivation. He didn’t realise that this addiction resulted in him suffering from critical symptoms of depression, mind absenteeism and anxiety. He thought it was due to work stress and interpersonal issues,” said Dr Manish Jain, consultant, department of psychiatry, BLK Super Specialty Hospital.
While there is little empirical research on the impact binge watching has on mental health, reported cases in the capital have been exceedingly rare. “Just like internet or mobile addiction, addiction caused by binge watching is still not defined in the clinical diagnostic manual. But it is a lifestyle related addiction, which, like in this case, can result in critical symptoms of depression and anxiety,” he said.
Dr Jain said that when the man came in for a consultation, he complained that he was unable to go to work. “At first, he showed signs of severe anxiety. During consultation, he was also found to be suffering from stress. His mother said he spent a lot of time on the internet at odd hours. Due to inadequate sleep and binge watching, he was unable to wake up in the morning. He started experiencing anxiety and mind absenteeism and was unable to go to work,” he said.
Dr Jain said that the man travelled 60-80 km to work and worked a nine-hour shift. “Despite his hectic schedule, he could not let go off his habit. This was a clear sign that he was addicted to it. He never realised that sleep deprivation had resulted in anger outbursts, anxiety, mood swings and depression,” he said.
Dr Jain added that correctly “identifying” technology-related addiction is the key to treatment: “In this case, it was binge watching. The man had become irritable and withdrawn and would not take part in family activities. His family, too, did not know this was a consequence of binge watching. He has now undergone psychotherapy for his addiction.”
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