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Super Bowl and sports fan depression: How to cope when your team loses, according to mental health experts

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Super Bowl and sports fan depression: How to cope when your team loses, according to mental health experts

You win some, you lose some — and the Super Bowl every year is no exception.

As the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers went at it in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday night, fans were headed either for a victory dance or a major let-down — and we all know the dramatic outcome by now, with the Chiefs taking it in overtime by a score of 25-22.  

So what happens when your favorite team loses? Experts say a loss could lead to sports fan depression.

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Although not clinically recognized as a medical condition, sports fan depression is a “very real experience for avid sports fans,” said licensed professional counselor Jill Lamar, who is based in Pennsylvania.

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“Sports fan depression occurs when your team or favorite player loses to the competition,” she told Fox News Digital.

A Chiefs fan (left) and a 49ers fan react to plays in previous games. (Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“For those who are overly invested in the outcome of sporting events — especially something as titanic as the Super Bowl — their emotional attachment to their hometown or favorite team can get in the way of their happiness and mental health.”

Lamar, who provides counseling services at Thriveworks in Philadelphia, noted that sports fan depression can leave people with feelings of sadness, frustration, numbness and lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed.

These emotions can last for two weeks or more after the game ends, she said.

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“You may be distracted at work or withdraw socially, especially now that the season that brought you together with your fellow fans has ended,” she said.

Christopher La Lima, PhD, a licensed psychologist at NYU Langone, also discussed the condition with Fox News Digital, noting how much goes into being a sports fan.

chiefs fan with face paint

Chiefs fan “KC Mike” yells out to Chiefs players during warmups before a game against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Dec. 16, 2021. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“Time, effort, money,” he said. “Being a sports fan can involve a shared common cause and building of a community.”

The psychologist echoed that sports fans may experience feelings of loss and grief when their team loses.

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“Loss can be experienced in many ways, such as through the loss of a loved one, a relationship, aspects of health, a job or a role where someone feels a sense of purpose,” he said. 

“While sports fan depression is not a formal mental health diagnosis, the emotional distress is real.”

Clocking the warning signs

The friends and partners of sports fans are “most likely well aware of the impending reactions to their team losing,” according to Lamar.

Some warning signs of sports fan depression include becoming frustrated and upset when your team drops a ball, a field goal bounces off the goal post or a play is thwarted by the opposition, Lamar said.

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man yells at the TV

Frustration during a game can build until it becomes a “frightening rage,” a psychologist said. (iStock)

This condition most often appears in men, although it is not exclusive to one gender alone. 

“Everyone who cares about sports is rooting for someone or a particular team,” she said. “And their disappointment will show — a sigh, the occasional frustrated outburst, a sad face at the end of the game as they leave the bar or turn off the game.” 

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“If these reactions continue to grow into sadness and irritability way past the last whistle, it could be a sign of sports fan depression.”

Frustration during a game can build until it becomes a “frightening rage,” according to Lamar.

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But after the game, sports fan depression turns that anger “inward” and can “become debilitating,” she said.

49er fans at 2020 super bowl

Jessica Rodriguez and her husband Tony Rodriguez of Concord, California, react while watching the San Francisco 49ers play the Kansas City Chiefs during a Super Bowl watch party at SPIN San Francisco on Feb. 2, 2020, in San Francisco, California. (Philip Pacheco/Getty Images)

While the typical response of a sports fan after a big loss is a few days of complaints and sadness, people experiencing sports fan depression can experience symptoms for months.

LaLima stressed the importance of making the distinction between sports fan depression and recognized depressive disorders.

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“Clinical depression, and more specifically major depressive disorder, involves specific diagnostic criteria and persisting symptoms that cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” he said.

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Some major depressive disorder symptoms can include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, significant changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, changes in sleep, and feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, according to La Lima.

How to cope

Since not everyone can be a winner, Lamar and La Lima offered some tips on how to cope with the initial wave of sadness after a loss.

Lamar suggested that “putting things into perspective can help shift a sports fan’s view of the outcome, whether it’s good or bad.”

men depressed after a lost game

People experiencing sports fan depression can see symptoms continue for months, according to experts. (iStock)

“With many platforms showing games 24/7, it’s easy to let a preoccupation with sports become a mind-numbing habit bordering on addiction,” she said. 

“Don’t let your interest in sports overtake the other more important aspects of your life.”

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Lamar encouraged sports fans to “take a deep breath” and list their goals and the “priorities necessary to realize them.”

While people tend to think in “black and white terms” when experiencing negative emotions, La Lima advised sports fans to think more flexibly.

“Problem-solving and impulse control can improve when these negative emotions become less intense,” he said. 

man watches football on TV

“Don’t let your interest in sports overtake the other more important aspects of your life,” advised a licensed mental health counselor. (iStock)

“When acting in these moments, I like to think, ‘Cool the iron before you get burned.’”

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Other coping skills can include taking a brief separation from sports, seeking out other distractions and using self-soothing techniques like deep breathing and self-care, La Lima said.

“Tackle feelings of emptiness after a big loss by identifying where you feel purpose, [such as] in relationships with family and friends, and in your interests and community,” he said.

Fans should make different use of the time previously dedicated to the sport, said an expert. 

“Sports can provide a structure for socializing … It can be helpful to stay socially connected and lean into social support,” noted La Lima.

Lamar also suggested making an effort to connect with friends who love the same sport — as well as with those who don’t.

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san francisco 49ers fans

San Francisco 49ers fans cheer in the first quarter of their NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Jan. 19, 2020. (Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

And when the season is over, Lamar said, fans should make different use of the time previously dedicated to the sport.

“Learn a new skill, pick up chess, take a cooking class, join a MeetUp group — anything that sounds interesting,” she suggested.

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LaLima added that difficult feelings often need to be spoken about, as “holding onto them can make us feel like a shaken soda bottle.”

“Rather than letting pressure build and opening it all at once, loosen the cap a little at a time,” he advised. “Talk about day-to-day thoughts and feelings in real time.” 

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chris lalima nyu psychology

Christopher Nicholas La Lima, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone. (NYU Langone Health)

The psychologist reiterated that depressive disorders often require evaluation and treatment from mental health professionals.

“Those concerned should seek professional mental health support in this regard,” he said.

Before Sunday night’s game — which saw the Chiefs take the win in dramatic fashion in overtime — Lamar joked ahead of the final outcome on Sunday night that fans should “wave to Taylor Swift,” no matter what. 

“She’s made one helluva effort to get there,” she said.

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MDs: Here's How to Outsmart Sneaky Weight-Loss Side Effects So You Feel Better Than Ever

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MDs: Here's How to Outsmart Sneaky Weight-Loss Side Effects So You Feel Better Than Ever



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To combat nursing shortage, universities create accelerated 12-month training programs: 'A win-win'

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To combat nursing shortage, universities create accelerated 12-month training programs: 'A win-win'

America needs nurses — and some schools are implementing accelerated programs to train them. 

To shorten the process, these programs cut training time from up to four years down to one.

“I really do think this is a win-win for students and local hospitals and facilities,” said Elizabeth Mann, assistant clinical professor at the University of New England, in an interview with Fox News. She’s based in Maine. 

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Prospective students must have a previous bachelor’s degree and need to complete eight prerequisite courses. 

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This is dramatically shorter than the typical two- to four-year nursing program. 

A student participates in training to become a nurse at the University of New England. (Kailey Schuyler)

“I think the ability to get a second degree in something like a bachelor’s in nursing is very appealing to many people,” UNE Nursing School’s interim director Donna Hyde told Fox News.

“They don’t have to have a health care background. We will get them there.”

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The new fast-track nursing program at the University of New England is slated to begin in May. 

The goal is to help students get into the workforce sooner, but they’ll have to put in some serious training as well, experts say.

States with greatest nursing needs

The states most in need of nurses are Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan and Georgia, according to the National Center of Health Workforce Analysis.  (Kailey Schuyler)

“There’s nothing cut back. They do the same amount of clinical hours, so we allow time for that,” said Hyde. 

“Their schedule may have to be a little more flexible to include consideration of weekends.”

There’s a projected shortage of over 78,000 registered nurses next year, according to the National Center of Health Workforce Analysis. 

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The states most in need of nurses are Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan and Georgia.

“As different states are looking at their own options to increase their nursing workforce, this is one of those options,” Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, the Oregon-based president of the American Nurses Association, told Fox News. 

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The shortened 12-month program not only appeals to students, but will also benefit local health care facilities, Mann said.

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Hyde noted that she speaks to many of the nurse administrators at local health care partners, and “they obviously see the need for more nurses sooner rather than later.”

Nursing students training in simulation lab

Nursing students train in a simulation lab to prepare for the workforce. The shortened 12-month program appeals to students and also benefits local health care facilities, experts say. (Kailey Schuyler)

Some have expressed doubt that students can be ready in just a year, Mann pointed out.

​​”They may interpret it as [offering] a lesser quality [of training] or that we are pushing students through, and I do want to emphasize that is truly not the case,” she said.

Up to 40 students are expected to start the program in May at the University of New England.

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Woman with doctor

To combat the nursing shortage, some schools are implementing accelerated programs to train new nurses.  (iStock)

Once students complete the program, they will have to pass a national exam — just like a traditional four-year student — to officially become a nurse. 

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Was Wendy Williams’ dementia caused by alcoholism? Experts share insights

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Was Wendy Williams’ dementia caused by alcoholism? Experts share insights

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Former TV talk show host Wendy Williams, 59, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and aphasia, which impairs the ability to communicate, in 2023, a representative confirmed on Thursday.

Given Williams’ reported history of alcoholism, experts are speaking out about the potential link between her alcohol abuse and current cognitive issues.

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Thursday’s announcement of Williams’ diagnosis came ahead of a new Lifetime documentary — titled “Where Is Wendy Williams?” — that will premiere on Saturday, as her representative aims to “correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health.”

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Williams entered a facility in April 2023 to allegedly treat “cognitive issues” reportedly due to alcohol abuse, as her family communicates with her through a court-appointed legal guardian.

“In 2023, after undergoing a battery of medical tests, Wendy was officially diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD),” Williams’ care team stated in a press release.

Wendy Williams attends a private dinner at Fresco By Scotto on Feb. 21, 2023, in New York City. The former TV talk show host has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and aphasia. (Getty Images)

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“Aphasia, a condition affecting language and communication abilities, and frontotemporal dementia, a progressive disorder impacting behavior and cognitive functions, have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Williams’ team requesting additional comment. 

Link between alcohol and brain health

Dr. Suzette Glasner, PhD, a psychologist in Los Angeles, California, has not treated or examined Williams but said heavy drinking and alcoholism can cause damage to both white and gray matter in the brain, and over time can lead to deteriorating cognitive functioning, including dementia.

“These neurocognitive impacts are a result of a combination of alcohol’s direct neurotoxic effects, depletion of nutrients in the body, impacts on liver functioning and disruption of communication between nerve cells in the brain,” Glasner told Fox News Digital.

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When heavy and chronic alcohol use leads to brain damage, an individual can experience problems with their attention, memory and reasoning, the expert said.

“In many cases, individuals who misuse or are addicted to alcohol and drugs struggle with overlapping chronic medical and psychiatric conditions, and this can make it very challenging to determine the etiology or cause of neurocognitive symptoms such as those observed in Wendy Williams,” Glasner said.

wendy williams against a dark background

Thursday’s announcement of Williams’ diagnosis came ahead of a new Lifetime documentary — titled “Where Is Wendy Williams?” — that will premiere on Saturday, as her representative aims to “correct inaccurate and hurtful rumors about her health.” (lya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Wilhelmina Models)

Neuropsychiatric symptoms including cognitive impairment are common in Grave’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder Williams has spoken about battling over the years.

“Those symptoms often improve with treatment; however, like other chronic diseases, alcohol or drug use can complicate or interfere with treatment response, making improvements less likely,” noted Glasner. 

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Elizabeth Landsverk, M.D., a geriatric and dementia expert in San Francisco, also has not treated Williams but said that substance misuse has been previously linked to cognitive decline. She also noted that the extent of its impact isn’t clear.

“Not enough research has been conducted on the matter to give us precise data,” she told Fox News Digital.  

“What has been noted is that alcohol abuse — as well as taking a number of other medications — does increase the risk of developing dementia.” 

What amount of alcohol is dangerous?

Brain damage and neurocognitive impacts can occur with heavy drinking in individuals with moderate or severe alcohol use disorders, Grasner said — “so there is a wide variation between individuals in the quantity of alcohol that leads to these neurotoxic effects.”

“The specific reasons that some individuals develop alcohol-related dementia whereas others do not are not well understood, so we don’t currently have guidelines specifying that if you drink a certain amount, you are likely to experience cognitive impairments,” she added. 

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Woman drinking beer

Brain damage and neurocognitive impacts can occur with heavy drinking in individuals with moderate or severe alcohol use disorders, an expert said. (iStock)

Women are generally more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain and body, Glasner noted, which means the onset can occur at a younger age than it would in men.

“Expert evaluation of the contribution of substance use and other underlying medical conditions such as Grave’s Disease to cognitive symptoms would be very important for Williams to ensure that she receives the right treatments at the right time,” Glasner recommended.

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“Often involving a family very closely to evaluate the symptoms and the timing of their emergence relative to alcohol or other substance use can be helpful as part of determining an accurate diagnosis and plan of care,” she added.

Abstinence from alcohol is a crucial part of treatment for alcohol-related neurological deficits, noted Glasner.

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“In many cases, individuals who misuse or are addicted to alcohol and drugs struggle with overlapping chronic medical and psychiatric conditions.”

If the condition is caught in time, abstaining from alcohol can at least partially, if not fully, reverse the symptoms, according to the expert.

Living with FTD and aphasia

While symptoms of FTD can vary depending on what part of the brain is affected, most people with the condition experience some common symptoms, as listed on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website. 

Behavior or personality changes are often the most obvious indicators. These may include public outbursts or socially inappropriate actions.

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People with FTD also tend to have impaired judgment, a lack of empathy and lower self-awareness, Johns Hopkins states. 

This type of dementia is also marked by a reduced ability to understand or formulate language.

virtual volumetric drawing of brain in hand

Heavy drinking and alcoholism can cause damage to both white and gray matter in the brain, and over time can lead to deteriorating cognitive functioning, a psychiatrist said. (iStock)

People may struggle to remember the names of objects, string words into sentences or even recall the meanings of words they used to know. 

The condition can also lead to agitation, irritability and drastic mood swings.

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There is no treatment for FTD other than managing symptoms and educating family members and caregivers, according to Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey.

Some aphasia symptoms can be managed with speech therapy.

“The specific reasons why some individuals develop alcohol-related dementia whereas others do not are not well understood.”

“Treatment focuses a great deal on family education,” said Reena Gottesman, M.D., a behavioral neurologist at the Center for Brain Loss and Memory Health at Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute, in a press release.

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Approximately 50,000-60,000 people may have FTD, per data from the Alzheimer’s Association, a nonprofit group based in Chicago.

Recently, actor Bruce Willis’ FTD diagnosis brought new attention to the rare condition.

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