How to cope with football withdrawal after the Super Bowl

January 31, 2014

After the final play of the Super Bowl, millions of fans will go through withdrawal symptoms from not being able to watch football for months.

Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Angelos Halaris describes the effects this has on the brain and offers tips on how fans can cope.

Halaris explains that when a person engages in a pleasurable activity, such as watching a game, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called dopamine is released in a part of the brain called the .

When the pleasurable activity ends, the person is left with a feeling of deprivation. It's similar to what a smoker feels when deprived of a cigarette - except there's no quick fix like a cigarette for the football fan.

"When the football season is over and there's no other game on the schedule for months, you're stuck, so you go through withdrawal," Halaris said.

  • For hard-core fans, the feeling can be similar to post-holiday blues, Halaris said.
  • Halaris offers these tips for fans who suddenly have to face months without football:
  • Don't go cold turkey. Watch football on YouTube, or on recordings, in gradually diminishing amounts.
  • Share your feelings of withdrawal and letdown with a friend or spouse.
  • While it can be unpleasant, football withdrawal is not serious enough to require antidepressants or other medications. And do not self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
  • Most important, buck up. "You're just going to have to basically tough it out until football starts up again," Halaris said.

Explore further: Blood test might predict how well a depressed patient responds to antidepressants

Related Stories

How to avoid turkey bowl injuries this Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013

Every year around this time, Loyola University Medical Center Sports Medicine surgeon Dr. Pietro Tonino sees a spike in sprains, contusions, broken bones and other injuries suffered in Thanksgiving pickup football games.

Safety tips for holiday football games

November 28, 2013

(HealthDay)—Pick-up football games are a Thanksgiving tradition for many people, but they can lead to injuries if you're not careful, an expert says.

Recommended for you

Sleep makes relearning faster and longer-lasting

August 22, 2016

Getting some sleep in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you've forgotten, even 6 months later, according to new findings from Psychological Science, a journal of the Association ...

Psychosis associated with low levels of physical activity

August 25, 2016

A large international study of more than 200,000 people in nearly 50 countries has revealed that people with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, and men with psychosis are over two times more likely to miss ...

Have we misunderstood post-traumatic stress disorder?

August 22, 2016

In understanding war-related post-traumatic stress disorder, a person's cultural and professional context is just as important as how they cope with witnessing wartime events, which could change the way mental health experts ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.