Gambling and Mood Disorders

Whether we’re at the slots, the poker table or the sports book, gambling is the act of risking something of value on an event that has an uncertain outcome. It can be anything from a lottery ticket bought with the last of your grocery money to a bet placed on a horse race by friends in the office pool.

Gambling is often used to escape from boredom or stress, and it’s a way to give yourself the false sense that you are in control. However, gambling also has the potential to trigger mood disorders like depression and anxiety, or make them worse. Mood disorders aren’t always the cause of gambling addiction, but they can contribute to it and can make it harder to stop.

There are four main reasons that people gamble: for social, financial, or entertainment purposes. Social gambling involves betting on games of chance for the purpose of entertainment and fun, usually with family or friends. This type of gambling is a form of recreational activity and does not typically have negative effects.

Financial gambling is the wagering of money or other valuables on an event that has a high probability of winning and has tangible or intangible rewards. It ranges from the purchase of lottery tickets or scratch-offs to the placing of large bets at a casino. Financial gambling can lead to serious problems when it becomes a habit.

People who are addicted to gambling often exhibit some combination of 10 criteria: damage or disruption, loss of control, and dependence. Other symptoms that may indicate a problem include preoccupation with gambling, recurrent episodes of losing control, and lying to family members or others about how much they are gambling.

Whether you’re struggling with a gambling problem or trying to help someone else with one, the best thing you can do is strengthen your support network. Reach out to family and friends, and consider joining a peer support group for gamblers. There are many programs available, including Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Another option is to find a counselor or therapist who has experience treating gambling addiction. They can help you understand your own behavior and provide guidance in developing healthy coping mechanisms. They can also assist you in creating and managing a budget that will limit your gambling activities. They can also recommend treatment and rehabilitation options for you, including inpatient or residential care. If you have financial responsibilities, consider setting boundaries in managing the money of your loved ones who have gambling problems. This will ensure that their urges to gamble are not being fulfilled through your credit or debit cards. In addition, it is important to seek professional help for any underlying mood disorders that might be contributing to or worsening your gambling problems. This is essential to long term recovery and to avoiding the potential for relapse. The sooner you start the recovery process, the better. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to break the cycle of gambling and recovery.