Television addicts professionally treated in UK for first time

Television addicts professionally treated in UK for first time
Television addicts professionally treated in UK for first time

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Britain has reported its first cases of people being treated by psychologists for television addiction.

A report by The Telegraph newspaper on Monday revealed that patients had been seeking help at Harley Street clinics after their viewing habits had spiraled out of control. Harley Street in central London is renowned for its large number of private healthcare centres.

Psychotherapist Adam Cox said he had treated three patients at his Harley Street clinic last year after they developed addiction to streaming shows on providers such as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime.

“All three had fallen into a dangerous loop where they felt unable to switch off,” Mr Cox told the paper.

“They just had to watch the next episode, and the one after that and the one after that.”

The psychotherapist said the ‘cliffhanger’ moments in television programmes acted as a ‘reward mechanism’, which release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine can cause anxiety and difficulties sleeping. These symptoms in turn could negatively impact productivity and relationships, he said.

One man who sought treatment, 35, said he had put his job at risk through his compulsion for watching crime shows for hours every day.

Another man developed a Netflix addiction after being hooked on the series Breaking Bad. After watching three seasons of the show, started watching True crime documentary Making a Murder. His viewing habits worsened and he soon was watching television seven hours a day.

“He would watch until he was too exhausted to keep his eyes open, finally falling asleep around 4am,” Mr Cox said.

Mr Cox's patients have been offered counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy to cure their binging obsessions. Netflix declined to comment on the reports.

More than 150 million people have Netflix subscriptions. Critics have accused the streaming service's method of releasing of a whole TV series at once as fuelling the rise of “binge-watching”.

Netflix executives seem to be aware of this. The company's chief executive Reed Hastings stoked controversy in 2017 when he said that sleep was Netflix's top rival.

Although Britain’s National Health Service has recognised gaming addition as a mental health condition, it has not recognised TV addiction as one. The same goes for the World Health Organisation, which added gaming addiction to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) last year.

In November, the UAE's leading rehabilitation body National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), said it will launch an out-patient clinic in Abu Dhabi. The clinic will be aimed at helping both Emiratis and expats.

Updated: January 7, 2020 03:42 AM

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