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Seen At 11: Can March Madness Be Unhealthy?

March Madness Fans

Ryan Arledge (right) and a friend watch NCAA basketball during March Madness. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They call it March Madness for a reason — college basketball’s best facing off in buzzer beating, nail biting games that are easy for any fan to get caught up in.

But for some, emotions can become so intense that it can affect their health, turning March Madness into a fan hazard, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

Ryan Arledge says he gets so emotionally invested in a game, that even his life and health are impacted by the outcome.

“I’m a die hard fan, and it affects my moods. You know, he worst feeling in the world is when they play really bad. By the time I get home my head is pounding,” said Arledge.

Psychiatry professor Dr. Ken Yeager says games, especially high stakes tournaments, can cause extreme reactions in fans.

“There is a physical response to this. Their serum cortisol levels that goes up; testosterone levels go up or down depending on the outcome of the game,” Yeager explained. “Sometimes the pressures and tensions of life get added onto the emotions of games, and then you have people overreacting.”

Some fans aren’t even aware of the toll it can take on their health and relationships.

Dr. Yeager counsels both fans and athletes on how to handle the emotions that come along with big games.

For fans, Yeager suggests exercising before the game. Working out lowers your stress level and can keep you calm later in the day, Gomez reported.

Fans should also control the volume on their TV. Loud noises can increase agitation without realizing it.

Yeager also suggests trying to limit alcohol intake, as well as taking stock of the game day company you keep.

“The mix of people that you watch the game with — there are certain times you have to be careful about ‘Oh, don’t want these two guys together because they’re too tied into the game,'” Yeager said.

Arledge said he still enjoys watching his teams play, but now he cheers them on with a healthier approach.

“I love it when they do great. I’m upset when they don’t. But I’m not going to punch any holes in my walls because of it,” Arledge said.

Brackets aren’t so bad, but avoid betting on your favorite team, Gomez said. The game is stressful enough, but adding money to the mix can take stress to a whole new level.

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