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What Are the Effects of Gambling Addiction on Mental Health

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Gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder. It can be identified in two major ways in individuals: First, continuous betting on things using money or objects that hold value disregarding the negative consequences which may arise as a result of this addictive act. Second, an individual can be said to be addicted if they cannot abstain from gambling even if they desire and crave to.

Not realising its severity or taking it as a mere common act can be devastating for the addicted gambler in the long run, hence causing loss of money and properties which may lead to mental disorder due to excessive thinking and massive trauma.

Today, gambling is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the US following its legalisation in all states. The ever-growing popularity of the betting industry has made some people rich, but others poorer and not only financially.

Uncontrolled gambling can be referred to as a type of mental disorder of impulse control. Also, it is seen as a type of chronic and progressive disease that can be diagnosed & treated through many ways including rehabilitation.

Research has it that about 10 million Americans suffer from gambling addiction. Although more men than women tend to suffer from chronic pathological gambling, the rate of women being affected by this disorder today is very alarming hence making up as much as 25% of individuals with pathological gambling.

Symptoms of gambling addiction

  • Being preoccupied with the thoughts of gambling to get more money.
  • Gambling with increasing amounts of money just for fun or to double up funds.
  • Numerous attempts to stop gambling without success.
  • Restless when you try to cut down on gambling.
  • Jeopardising or losing important friendships and relationships, a job, abstaining from school or ignoring job opportunities because of gambling.

The exact cause of gambling addiction isn’t well understood as many factors including biological, emotional and environmental factors can contribute to this disorder. Some obvious causes of addictive gambling include depression, stress, alcohol abuse, unemployment and relationship problems.

How gambling addiction affects mental health

  • DepressionIt may be the cause of gambling, just as gambling may result in depression due to loss of money and other expensive and tangible resources. When the gambler is winning and is on top of his or her game, depression obviously cannot co-exist. But, once the addiction advances and the said gambler starts losing money and other things of value, going into debt and on the verge of social, emotional, and physical consequences, depression is sure to strike.
  • Antisocial behaviour –  A research done by Dr Donald Black, who did a five-year investigation study, concluded that antisocial and borderline personality disorders are two of the most occurring ailments that addicted gamblers face. Pathological gamblers are characterised with attitudes that lead to low rates of happiness in their marriages hence causing divorce and separation which leads to a lonely and antisocial life.
  • Anxiety –  The 2001–2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, suggests that among people with the most intense type of gambling problems which is labeled ‘pathological gambling’ by health professionals, more than 11% are dealing with a generalised anxiety disorder.

The bottom line

if you start skipping other important stuff like going to work or school for gambling, you might be facing an addiction. This is what borderline defines casual bettor and the addicted one. Also, take in consideration to not gamble all your profits when you win on a bet or at the casino.

Take some aside, so if you want to be again you won’t lose everything. The greed and the adrenaline rush that many gamblers face when betting, takes away the common sense of judging the risks they are taking.

While abstaining would be good, indulging in gambling wisely can be a fun activity and yield some good profits. Hence if you must gamble, wager responsibly. If you face an addiction though, it is advisable to consider avoiding gambling in any form and avoid friends who gamble and places where it occurs. Get help at the earliest stage of the addiction in order to prevent it from getting out of hand.


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Wendy Whitehead worked as a teaching assistant at two special needs schools in London before embarking on a different career as a marketing consultant. 

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