Watching Friends Can Help People With Anxiety, Psychologist Says

It's safe to say that most people like Friends. Is it the greatest show ever made? Well, that's for you to decide... but it seems to be the universal number one when it comes to easy viewing.

It's basically the TV screensaver - always there when you're not really watching telly/can't be arsed finding something new to watch/hungover.

But it might be more than just Chandler's jests and the fact it's always being repeated that lead us to frequently watch Friends - according to clinical psychologist, Marc Hekster, the nature and content of the show means it can actually help people experiencing feelings of anxiety.

A psychologist says watching Friends can help with anxiety. Credit: Warner Bros.
A psychologist says watching Friends can help with anxiety. Credit: Warner Bros.

Speaking to the Metro, he said: "Having worked for over a period of 20 years with those experiencing anxiety, I can conclude that among other factors, it is the repetitive and relational nature of programs such as Friends and Big Bang Theory that will be doing the trick.

"Anxiety is in fact the human minds' alarm system, indicating that something is wrong, and usually the result of pent-up and unprocessed feelings.

"The build-up is not dissimilar to a pressure-cooker and will always need to find a way out.

Friends is there for you when you're feeling anxious. Credit: Warner Bros.
Friends is there for you when you're feeling anxious. Credit: Warner Bros.

"If they can't find a way of being expressed, the alarm system triggers, and it is usually not very pleasant for the person suffering with the anxiety. Few people who suffer from anxiety will have much good to say about it, and will want to escape it."

Mr Hekster said the resolution of the characters' problems in the show can provide people with both comfort and a sense of escapism.

He said: "[Watching Friends] is about an experience of repair, of watching the characters in the show repeatedly having worries, which then get repaired and soothed, usually in the context of other relationships in their lives.

"Complex problems are made the focus of each episode, and then they are resolved within the relationships which are the essence of the shows. It is pure escapism - excellent, bring it on."

Mr Hekster thinks watching the gang drink coffee together over and over can be comforting. Credit: Warner Bros.
Mr Hekster thinks watching the gang drink coffee together over and over can be comforting. Credit: Warner Bros.

Of course, it seems unlikely that watching Friends alleviates anxiety if you're somebody who doesn't like the show, or perhaps finds it a little safe and repetitious. However, Mr Hekster said it is this very predictability that makes it so effective at soothing anxiety.

He explained: "Yes, it is soothing to see the same outcome every time and know you can depend on it. This is at the heart of human development. So, when grown-ups are anxious, they can have child-like feelings of fear and worry, and these can be soothed by repetition.

"Bring on Friends repeats for the 10th time."

UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Let's talk mental health.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Jake Massey

Jake Massey is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from Newcastle University, where he learnt a bit about media and a lot about living without heating. After spending a few years in Australia and New Zealand, Jake secured a role at an obscure radio station in Norwich, inadvertently becoming a real-life Alan Partridge in the process. From there, Jake became a reporter at the Eastern Daily Press. Jake enjoys playing football, listening to music and writing about himself in the third person.

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