How Gambling Affects Our Mental Health
Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that relies on chance. It can be done with money, goods or services, and is illegal in some places. Gambling can also occur online, with e-sports games being one example.
Many people gamble for fun, for socialising or as a way to escape worries and stress. However, for some, gambling can become a serious problem and lead to debt or strained relationships. It’s important to recognise if you have a gambling problem and seek help if you can’t control your spending or your thoughts and feelings about gambling. There are support groups available and various treatments, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT looks at how you think about betting and what triggers you to gamble. It can be helpful to identify any unhealthy beliefs or patterns around betting, such as the belief that certain rituals will increase your chances of winning, or that you’ll be able to make up for losses by gambling more. It can also be helpful to consider whether there are any other mental health issues that may be contributing to your gambling behaviour, such as depression or anxiety.
The underlying cause of most gambling disorders is the reward system in the brain. It’s important to understand this, as it can explain why gambling is so addictive. When you gamble, your brain gets massive surges of dopamine – the chemical that makes us feel pleasure. This dopamine can cause you to want to gamble more to get the same rewards, and it can distract you from other activities that might give you a more sustainable source of pleasure, like exercise or healthy eating.
Research has shown that some people are genetically predisposed to gambling disorder, but it’s also possible that a combination of factors could contribute to it. Some studies of identical twins have suggested that there might be a link between gambling and personality traits, such as thrill-seeking behaviours or impulsivity. Other studies have looked at differences in the brain activity of individuals who develop gambling disorder, and have found that some people have a less well-developed ability to weigh risk and control impulses.
Gambling can also affect our mental health, especially if it’s not managed well. In severe cases, it can cause depression and suicidal thoughts. If you’re thinking about suicide, call 999 or visit A&E immediately.
It’s important to remember that your loved one didn’t choose to become addicted to gambling. They might have started gambling for coping reasons, such as to forget their worries or to feel more self-confident. If they’re struggling, try not to judge them and instead offer your support.
Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that relies on chance. It can be done with money, goods or services, and is illegal in some places. Gambling can also occur online, with e-sports games being one example. Many people gamble for fun, for socialising or as a way to escape worries and stress.…