The link between mental health and gambling is closer than we think. If you have a preexisting mental health problem, then compulsive gambling problems may exacerbate what you already have. In addition, problematic gambling – another term associated with harmful gambling – can lead to mental health conditions, making you turn to gambling even more.
So what happens if you experience both gambling and mental health issues? What happens if you have both is that you can get a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis because these two conditions are both diagnosed. As a result, what you have needs to be treated simultaneously for a quick and good recovery.
Gambling And Depression
It’s not hard to understand sometimes the perspective of others. Imagine this: you’re feeling depressed and thinking about playing things. When you’re depressed, winning money sounds wonderful, right? However, according to the author of The Biophysical Consequences of Pathological Gambling, Timothy Wong, MD, states that gambling can worsen depression and existing stress-related conditions. Other conditions under this scope are hypertension, insomnia, anxiety disorders, and substance use issues.
Playing activates and makes the brain’s reward system the same way a drug can do the same. So, although you might lose, your brain is still churning out adrenaline and endorphins. These two hormones are linked to “feeling alive,” “urgency,” – and feeling good. As a result, you feel more inclined to play still.
It takes twenty-one (21) days to realize a habit fully. Add that to the fact that the player develops a gambling tolerance. Due to the habits being formed, gamblers must take bigger risks to feel better and more alive. The brain then becomes conditioned and wants more dopamine to activate its reward system, especially if you play virtual bingo.
To help alleviate gambling problems, you will need a diagnosis. However, an official gambling disorder diagnosis needs to confirm and require at least four (4) of the following symptoms. These symptoms need to occur last year:
- Restless or irritable when stopping gambling
- Failed attempts to halt the habit
- Frequent thoughts of gambling
- Chasing one’s losses
- Keeping gambling activity a secret
- Risking relationships and other things for gambling
- Asking friends to help with gambling debts
The gambling treatment can vary. Some people can control themselves and eventually stop gambling without external help. However, some people need professional help to help treat their gambling problems. Unfortunately, it is rare to find people seeking help for their gambling problems. Out of ten (10) people, only one (1) seek treatment.
There are countless ways that gambling can affect people; different approaches suit different people. There is also a variety of therapy for treating gambling disorders. These include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy—another option for treatment to can be counseling.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) aims to identify negative patterns and thoughts and then seeks to replace them with more positive ones. Meanwhile, psychotherapy is “talk therapy” that helps a person discover and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Finally, family therapy, especially, can be very enlightening in cases regarding problematic familial behaviors.
Gambling and mental health go a long way. However, doing it in moderation because too much gambling can also affect your mental state. Moderation is always the best practice because it allows you space and time to care for yourself and others.