Gambling and Mood Disorders

Gambling is an activity where a person risks money or possessions in order to win. It can include games of chance, such as tossing a coin or playing cards, as well as sports betting, like horse and greyhound racing and football accumulators. It can also include activities that involve a level of skill, such as blackjack, poker and roulette.

Some people experience problem gambling. This can have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, their family and their work or school performance. It can also lead to financial difficulties, homelessness and even suicide.

There is no single explanation for why some people develop gambling problems while others do not. It is likely that many factors are involved, including genetics, environment, mood disorders and life events. However, there is growing evidence that compulsive gambling can trigger or make worse mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Research suggests that gambling addiction is a neurobiological disorder, like other addictions. It affects the reward system of the brain and leads to impaired control over the impulse to gamble. People with this disorder have trouble with their memory, judgment and emotions, and are unable to stop gambling or control their spending. They may hide their gambling behaviour from friends and family, lie about how much they are spending and feel compelled to spend more money in an attempt to recover what they have lost.

Gambling can be a fun and rewarding pastime for some, but for others it can become dangerous. People with this condition often begin to gamble in ways that affect their physical and mental health, their relationships, their work and study performance and their finances. Problem gambling can lead to serious debt, bankruptcy and even homelessness.

Problem gambling can be treated with self-help treatment programs and support groups. Inpatient and residential treatment and rehab programs are also available for those with severe gambling addictions who can’t break their harmful patterns without round-the-clock support. If you have a gambling problem, seek help immediately. It’s never too late to regain control over your life and start the journey to recovery. If you are struggling with an underlying mood disorder such as depression, anxiety or alcohol/drug abuse, also seek help for those issues. It is important to address these issues because they can both cause and make problem gambling worse.