Gambling and Mood Disorders


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance and for which the gambler hopes to win a prize. It can be done by playing lottery tickets, casino games, scratchcards, betting on sports events or horse races, bingo, or even office pools. The common assumption is that gambling involves money, but it can also involve other things of value such as time and energy, relationships, and health. While most people gamble for fun, some become addicted to the activity. If you feel that your gambling is causing harm, seek help for the problem. Often mood disorders such as depression, stress, or substance abuse can trigger or worsen gambling problems. It’s important to seek treatment for these issues as well, because they are likely to persist even after the gambling problem is resolved.

A significant proportion of pathological gamblers have co-occurring mood disorders such as anxiety or depressive disorder. Depression is one of the most common and highly correlated mood disorders with gambling, and studies have reported that gambling is more likely to occur during periods of depression than in non-depressed people. Furthermore, research has shown that mood disorders predict the onset of gambling problems, and that a number of treatment interventions have been found to be effective for treating pathological gamblers with depressive disorders.

It is estimated that more than $10 trillion is legally wagered annually in gambling establishments worldwide. This figure excludes illegal gambling and the money that is placed on horses, sports events, and other types of entertainment. Despite its prevalence, gambling is considered to be a vice because it has the potential to lead to serious financial and personal problems. Many people who are dependent on gambling experience depressive symptoms as a result of their addiction, and others have committed criminal acts such as embezzlement or theft to fund their gambling habit. Gambling addiction can also jeopardize relationships, careers, and education.

In order to control the urge to gamble, you should set money and time limits in advance. You should also make a conscious decision not to use money that you would otherwise spend on other expenses such as rent, utilities, or food. In addition, it is helpful to postpone gambling until later, such as when you have finished a task or when you have returned home from work. You can also distract yourself by practicing relaxation exercises for gambling cravings or visualizing the consequences of giving in to the urge. In the long term, seeking therapy and support groups can be very beneficial for those with gambling problems. This type of therapy can help you work through the specific problems that have arisen in your life, and it can lay the foundation for repairing your relationship with money and your finances. In addition, family therapy can be very useful for those with problematic gambling behavior. Ultimately, however, you must recognize that the only way to stop gambling is to completely break the habit.