If the idea of eating lunch without Erica Kane vamping across your TV screen leaves you a tad depressed, you're not alone. According to a new a href="http://www.livescience.com/13776-soap-opera-break-television-characters.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+%28LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed%29">study, people can be significantly distressed when a TV show goes off the air, particularly if they watch TV for companionship.

Ohio State University researchers actually studied the psychological effects of temporarily missing shows during the 2007-2008 writers' strike, but the results were published this month, so the story is being used to explain the trauma associated with All My Children and One Life To Live being canceled.

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Casual viewers weren't as troubled by shows going off the air as those who watched the programs for relaxation, companionship or escape. The research only included college students, and co-author Emily Moyer-Gusé noted that the effect of losing a show may be worse for the elderly since they're more likely to watch for these reasons. However, even if you've been watching AMC since it was actually good in the '90s, the cancellation isn't really like losing an old friend. Moyer-Gusé explains:

"While some participants felt real distress at the loss of their favorite TV shows, the distress is not comparable to the distress that comes from real breakups ... There are some aspects of relationships with TV characters that may be comparable to real relationships, but the intensity is generally much lower."

More research is needed to determine if there are any positive benefits to not having to listen to another lengthy speech about why Ryan and Greenlee are meant for each other.

Real Soap Opera: Why America Hates Breaking Up With Erica Kane [LiveScience]