Is Netflix Addiction a Real Disorder? India’s National Institute of Mental Health Treats First Patient

Clinical psychologist Manoj Kumar Sharma says the patient used Netflix to escape the pressures of being unemployed.

India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences is making headlines after opening its doors to a patient who suffers from “Netflix addiction.” According to The Hindu (via USA Today), an unidentified man checked into the facility located in Bangalore after streaming approximately seven hours of Netflix content a day.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, a clinical psychologist at the institute’s Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT), told The Hindu the man used Netflix as an escape from family pressures and to help him cope with being unemployed for six months. The report says the man derived “immense pleasure” from streaming content on Netflix, but so much streaming resulted in eye strain, fatigue, and disturbed sleep.

A report from New Delhi’s The Print says treatment for Netflix addiction includes five-minute breathing exercises every hour to relieve stress. While the World Health Organization has classified video game addiction as a mental health disorder, it has not yet done the same for Netflix addiction. Sharma told The Print that Netflix-related addiction is most common in grownups who use the streaming platform to alleviate stress.

“While addiction among the younger generation, aged between eight and 14 years, continues to be centered on gaming, apps such as Netflix are more for the adults, who find emotional gratification (in streaming content) as they are under constant stress,” Sharma said.

CNBC reported last year the average Netflix subscriber streams 50 minutes of content a day.

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