Mental Health and Gambling
Gambling happens when you risk something of value for a chance at winning a prize. It could be as simple as buying a lottery ticket, or betting on a football game or scratchcard. Whether you win or lose, you’ll get a rush from the experience. However, there’s a big difference between having a flutter and gambling compulsively. In the latter case, you can end up in serious debt, and there are links between mental health problems and harmful gambling.
Mood disorders, including depression, can trigger or make worse gambling problems. In fact, studies have found that around half of people diagnosed with pathological gambling also have a mood disorder. These disorders can be difficult to treat, but you can help if you know what to look out for.
The symptoms of gambling disorder can start as early as adolescence and continue into adulthood. It’s important to seek help if you notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one:
Downplaying or lying about gambling behaviors. Continuing to gamble even when it affects finances, work, education, or personal relationships. Using illegal acts, such as theft, fraud, or embezzlement to finance gambling. Trying to recover lost money by gambling even more.
Unlike other hobbies and pastimes, the act of gambling has an evolutionary basis. It’s been around since humans began putting things up for stake – from rolling dice to casting marked sticks. The earliest forms of gambling were divinatory, as people sought knowledge about the future and the intentions of the gods.
Many people can enjoy a little gambling from time to time, and most of them don’t have any problem. However, there is a group of people who struggle with gambling addiction and are at high risk of harming themselves, their families, and their communities. This is known as pathological gambling, and it’s a serious mental health condition that can be treated with therapy and medication.
Gambling can cause a wide range of problems, from losing your home to putting your financial and psychological wellbeing at risk. The first step in treating gambling addiction is to acknowledge that you have a problem, which can be hard to do when it’s costing you your health and affecting your relationships with those around you. There are a number of treatments available for gambling addiction, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and family and group therapy. You can also find support through online forums and peer groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous.