Gambling & Depression: A Dangerous Duo
As a form of addiction, gambling has been around for a while and produces many of the same harmful effects as substance-based addictions. Unlike other forms of addiction, gambling directly affects a person’s financial well-being, which only works to worsen its overall effect on his or her life.
According to the Journal of Psychiatry, gambling addiction affects an estimated one to three percent of the general population with as much of 75 percent of gambling addicts developing a depression disorder along the way. In effect, gambling and depression make for a dangerous duo considering the impact these conditions can have on a person’s overall quality of life.
Depression Risk Factors Brought on By Gambling
Increasing Stress Levels
Over time, a gambling problem creates patterns of dysfunction within most all aspects of a person’s daily life, particularly his or her financial status. The inevitable money-worries brought on by compulsive gambling create highly stressful conditions that can become chronic in nature.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, as stress levels rise, gambling problems only grow worse. For these reasons, much of the relationship between gambling and depression develops out of gambling’s effects on a person’s physical well-being as stress wears away at his or her emotional and mental health.
It’s not uncommon for compulsive gamblers to lose all track of time when engaged in gambling activities. This is especially the case for people who frequent casinos that offer 24-hour access. The combined effects of no windows and oxygenated air are designed to keep a person gambling for as long as possible.
For these reasons, gamblers often experience sleep deprivation due to environmental conditions as well as to the compulsive need to keep playing. Sleep deprivation can have widespread effects on a person’s health, whether it be mental, physical or emotional.
Sleep deprivation also leaves the door wide open for emotional instability and depression to develop.
Gambling and Depression Effects
Much like substance-based addictions, gambling can be the cause of depression. Gambling behavior can also become a means for self-medicating an already existing depression.
When gambling is the cause of depression, feelings of hopelessness, desperation and shame can take shape in response to substantial money losses. The compulsive need to gamble coupled with a growing depression turns into a vicious gambling and depression cycle.
In cases where depression disorder precedes a developing gambling problem, the rush experienced from gambling provides needed relief from depression symptoms. These conditions also create a gambling-depression cycle
Once a cycle develops, both conditions grow increasingly worse over time.
Losing large amounts of money at a time can have devastating effects on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Considering how gambling addiction drives compulsive gambling behavior, it’s likely a person will experience substantial money losses on an ongoing basis.
For these reasons, compulsive gamblers face a high risk of suicide with an estimated 17 to 24 percent attempting suicide at some point in their lifetime. Not surprisingly, the strong link between gambling and depression plays a central role in developing suicidal tendencies.
If you or someone you know struggles with a gambling problem and are considering treatment help, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320Who Answers? to speak with one of our addiction counselors.