People gamble for a variety of reasons.
Some gamble for fun, some for the social aspect, and some professional gamblers even gamble as a source of income.
Like anything else, gambling, when done in moderation is fine.
However, gambling has the potential to become addictive and gambling addiction can have serious effects on one’s mental health.
The Study from Royal College of Psychiatrists and its Findings
There has been a comprehensive study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists on gambling and its effect on mental health.
The study confirms our suspicion that gambling addiction can affect mental health and even cause certain types of mental disorders.
This study found that people who have a habit gambling problem were more likely to suffer from the following issues, than the other sample group that did not have gambling addiction:
- low self-esteem
- higher levels of stress
- unhealthy coping mechanisms
- reduced sleep quality
- reduced appetite
- clinical depression
Symptoms to look out for if you suspect gambling is affecting your mental health
If you or someone you know like to gamble, it is always good to keep a check on yourself or your loved one.
Gambling has the potential to become gradually addictive, so you don’t even comprehend the process and sometimes wouldn’t even know you are addicted.
Therefore, it is good to have some objective hard truths that you can look out for in order to determine if you are addicted or not. Here are some common symptoms that may indicate you are addicted to gambling and that the addiction is taking a toll on your mental health.
- Mood swings – This refers to rapid changes in mood. We all go though a range of emotions and feelings, but mood swings are when your mood changes quickly and without almost any external stimuli.
- Waiting for your next gambling fix – If you find yourself always thinking of gambling, and not being able to live in the moment or enjoy other things as much as you used to, it could be a sign of an obsessive relationship with gambling.
- Reduced sleep –Noticing that you sleep for less time and / or the quality of your sleep has reduced since you started gambling more and more. This is yet another telltale sign of gambling addiction manifesting as mental stress or disorders.
- Depression or anxiety – Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. However, if you feel anxious without any reason to be stressed, it could mean that the stress is coming from your gambling addiction.
- Using gambling as a coping mechanism – If you find yourself running to your favorite online casino every time something stressful happens in your life, instead of dealing with the situation, it effectively means that you are using gambling as coping mechanism. There are healthy coping mechanisms (like exercise or meditation for example) and there are unhealthy coping mechanisms which can aggravate the situation (such as substance abuse or gambling).
It is important to be aware of your behavior, and if you notice any of signs just mentioned, pause and read about how to gamble responsibly.
Not sure if you are addicted to gambling or not?
So, we have established that gambling addiction can certainly affect one’s mental health adversely.
However, how do you know if you are addicted to gambling?
Well, if you are in a situation where you are pondering upon that question seriously, that in itself could be telling you what you need to know.
According to many clinical psychologists around the world, a person who displays at least four of these traits in the past 12 months, may be diagnosed as having gambling addiction.
- The stake or wager amount needs to be increased in order to feel the same kick as time passes.
- Becomes irritable when refraining from gambling.
- Has unsuccessfully attempted to quit gambling or reduce gambling in the past.
- Their mind is usually pre-occupied by gambling thoughts or plans.
- Uses gambling as a coping mechanism to deal with stress.
- Keeps going back to gamble, despite having lost a lot of money doing so.
- Covers up gambling activity by lying.
- Personal and professional relationships have taken a toll due to gambling habits.
- Borrows money or depends on others for money in order to gamble.
Responsible Gambling and Getting Help
When it comes to gambling addiction, prevention is better than cure.
In order to prevent yourself from getting addicted to gambling, the best thing you can do is to gamble only occasionally and responsibly.
Responsible gambling isn’t just a vague term. Responsible gambling policies and features have been mandated at online casinos by various gambling commissions.
As a player, if you are aware of the responsible gambling provisions and use these features, you are going to protect yourself from gambling addiction.
Some responsible gambling features you will find at online casinos include things like self-exclusion and the ability to set deposit limits, session time limits and loss limits.
If you or someone you know is going through a gambling problem, we highly recommend that you seek and receive professional help.