Mental Health Impacts of Gambling

The concept of gambling has been around since ancient times, and traces back to the casting of lots. Today, it can be anything from buying a lottery ticket to playing the pokies or betting on sport events and horses.

While it may seem like a fun activity, gambling can be very addictive and lead to significant financial harm. If you’re struggling with gambling, you should seek help and make sure you set boundaries.

When you gamble, it’s important to have a realistic expectation about your chances of winning. This means making a plan before you start. You don’t want to risk too much money and end up losing everything. You should also be aware of the “gambler’s fallacy” – thinking that you can suddenly get lucky again and recoup your losses.

A key step in overcoming your gambling problem is to understand how it affects you and your family. Gambling can cause you to lose your self-esteem and confidence. It can also make you feel more anxious and depressed. It can also interfere with your relationships, your work life and your family life.

The mental health impacts of gambling are similar to other addictions. They can include:

Depression and anxiety

These mental health problems can be difficult to deal with, but it’s possible to recover from them. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is often used to treat these issues. You can also ask your doctor for advice on how to manage them.

Suicidal ideation and attempts

There’s a strong link between gambling and suicidal thoughts, so it’s best to seek professional support if you feel this is something you need. If you’re feeling tempted to commit suicide, call 999 or go to A&E right away.

Relationship breakdowns

When someone with a gambling problem becomes increasingly dependent on their behaviour, this can create issues in their relationship. This is particularly true if they have children. Some people may find that their partner or spouse is no longer able to trust them to handle their finances and keep the house in order.

In some cases, this can create conflict in the family, where the person who gambles may try to take over more and more responsibilities for financial decisions and other household duties. It can also create emotional and psychological distress in the person who gambles, as they feel they are not able to control their behaviour.

Behaviours that lead to more severe harms, such as financial ruin and homelessness, can impact on the lives of others in the family. They can also be linked to a range of other problems, such as substance use or underlying mental health conditions.

If you’re worried about the mental health of a loved one, contact a doctor or social worker to find out more. They can offer a range of options, such as counselling, group therapy or an inpatient program.

You can also try to build your own support network. Joining a sports team, book club or education class can help you stay connected to the outside world.