India clinic treats first-ever case of Netflix addiction

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Are you still watching? Well, researchers and doctors in India might have something for that. The Service for Healthy Use of Technology clinic in Bengaluru recently treated its first-ever case of Netflix addiction.

According to The Hindu, the clinic treated a 26-year-old man who was watching as more than seven hours a day to escape from the stress he felt over being unemployed.

“Whenever his family pressurised him to earn a living, or when he saw his friends doing well, he would watch the shows on offer continuously. It was a method of escapism. He could forget about his problems, and he derived immense pleasure from it,” said Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, who leads SHUT.

The man is being treated with a mixture of methods. According to The Print, he is performing deep-breathing exercises to combat the root stress that caused him to seek out Netflix as a way to cope. Doctors are asking him to perform the exercises for five minutes out of every hour.

He’s also being given career counselling and traditional psychological counselling at the clinic to help keep his stress levels low as he moves back toward a normal life.

Dr Sharma said that the best way to avoid ending up in a situation like the young man’s is to be aware of when you’re using technology in an unhealthy manner.

“The best advice is to avoid the use of technology if it becomes a coping mechanism,” Sharma said.

While Netflix addiction isn’t recognised in the DSM-5, the manual of mental health disorders used by counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists the world over, the fact that it can be addictive is obvious to even casual users. It’s seeped into the way we talk about viewership, using words that have their root in disorder like “binge” to talk about use of streaming services.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings nodded toward this behaviour on an earnings call last year.

“You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,” Hastings said.

“You really — we’re competing with sleep, on the margin.” — Complex.com.

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