Can Gambling Addiction Co-Occur With Other Mental Health Disorders?
Gambling is considered a popular and enjoyable past-time worldwide. It’s a game of chance, giving people excitement and anticipation with the possibility of winning more money. However, studies show that it’s one common ground for divorce, a broken family, bankruptcy, unemployment, and other shapes of self-sabotage.
Because it’s been deemed a public health concern, the government and non-profit organisations host public talks about the true meaning of gambling addiction, the potential causes, how it can be prevented and treated, and the domino effect of consequences awaits when not addressed immediately.
Nowadays, clients with gambling addiction can be enrolled in rehabilitation clinics for treatment and faster recovery. A team of certified physiatrists, psychologists, and skilled healthcare workers work together to help individuals get healthy and sober. Learn more about its benefits and treatment programs.
Gambling Addiction: What Is It?
Gambling may be card-playing, casino games, lotteries, and sports betting. When you gamble frequently leading to an uncontrollable behaviour, it becomes an addiction. Over time, it significantly affects and may ruin intrapersonal, familial, and social relationships.
Gambling addiction is a psychological disorder that alters the brain’s overall function, leading to the development of anxiety, change in mood and personality, depression, distress, and migraine problems.
Individuals find gambling as an anti-depressive and mood-elevating activity, making them forget about their anxiety, depression, frustrations, personal, work, and financial problems. Early observation and clinical diagnosis are critical to helping reverse one’s mentality and prevent more unwanted consequences.
The following are the warning signs of gambling addiction:
- Having uncontrollable impulsive thoughts to gamble.
- Spending an excessive amount of time gambling.
- Using gambling as an excuse to escape life’s reality – family, studies, financial, social, and mental problems.
- Becomes a pathological liar to family members and friends to ask for money to finance his gambling addiction.
- Skipping school, missing work, or forgetting tasks and responsibilities intentionally or unintentionally.
- Being conscious of his actions and consequences but continues gambling.
- Having efforts to stop or progressively withdraw from gambling but fails after a few attempts.
- Change in personality or behaviour such as getting irritable, furious, restless, and rude when they don’t have enough money or time to gamble.
- Experiencing headaches and feeling sick when unable to gamble.
- Constantly and desperately looking for ways to acquire money for gambling.
- Gets a feeling of ‘high’ when gambling – returns to the gambling house or casino for consecutive days whether they win or lose.
- May or may not be found guilty or arrested of crimes such as embezzlement, forgery, fraud, drug involvement, and other illegal activities.
Can It Occur With Other Mental Health Disorders?
Indeed, gambling addiction may co-occur with other mental health disorders. There are two main reasons for circumstance; first, the person already has a pre-existing mental issue wherein gambling eases anxiety and depression, elevating their mood, and making them feel better.
Some important factors that may also have caused mental health disorders are stress, traumatic experiences, presence of other behavioural addiction, drug or alcohol abuse, loneliness due to the passing of a spouse or children, and post-retirement frustrations.
Second, the existing mental health disorder is a result of gambling addiction. For example, the individual develops anxiety and depression due to a lack of gambling funds, frequent losing money, or even substance abuse.
The science behind gambling addiction is the brain’s role in governing emotions and decision-making. The neurotransmitter, Dopamine, is responsible for various brain activities such as emotions, mood, learning, pleasure, personality, judgment, sensory, and motor functions.
The brain releases this chemical during moments of excitement, such as attaining a goal, completing a task, and pursuing a passion and dream. When a person gambles, it makes him feel elated and euphoric. Over time, the brain alters chemically and physically – it'll then be programmed that it constantly needs high amounts of Dopamine circulating in the body to be healthy.
Treating Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction must be diagnosed and treated right away. In addition to mental damage, family and friends also live through the consequences. You may consult a credible physician or psychologist with expertise in addiction recovery. Here are the available treatments offered:
Psychotherapy involves having a one-on-one talk with a psychologist to assess the client and his gambling addiction. As the first step in a recovery program, it’s crucial to determine the cause and triggers to know the appropriate treatments suited for the client.
- Oral Medications
A licensed doctor or psychologist must only prescribe oral medications. These are usually given to treat co-existing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders.
- In-patient or Out-patient Rehabilitation Clinics
These rehabilitation clinics are run by a team of medical doctors, psychologists, and other essential staff. Together, they conduct social talks about gambling addiction and the importance of withdrawing from behaviour and staying sober.
Depending on the case severity, you may be enrolled to be an in-patient or out-patient. The utmost care is given to clients to ensure comfort and overall safety. There are daily activities given, such as exposure to nature, socialization, and sports.
- Support Therapy Groups
People who are survivors and currently undergoing withdrawal phase and rehabilitation come together in a clinic or any safe establishment to talk about their experiences and offer emotional support to one another.
Gambling addiction has been a problem among families, social groups, and the community. It ruins lives, breaks trust, and drains monetary savings. This type of behavioural addiction can co-occur with other mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Thus, immediate diagnosis and treatment must be implemented to prevent further mental or physical damage and other life-altering consequences.