While many view gambling as a simple pastime, its repercussions go far beyond the immediate thrill or disappointment. If you're battling feelings of depression, anxiety, or loneliness and notice an increasing reliance on gambling as an escape, then know this: you are not alone. In this blog we will explore the relationship between gambling and mental well-being, shedding light on how gambling can impact our emotional state.
The Link Between Addictive Activities and Mental Health
Gambling can provide a rush of adrenaline and a surge of dopamine. It's natural to feel excitement and anticipation at first, which can provide a temporary escape from the stresses of life. However, as you chase losses and gamble more frequently, you might end up in a cycle where mental health challenges only amplify the problem.
If gambling is causing you problems, you — and many others like you — might also be dealing with some of the following challenges:
Research consistently highlights the deep ties between problem gambling and depression, with each amplifying the effects of the other. When you are feeling low, it's easy to see how gambling might provide a brief escape or a distraction from that, like a form of self-medication. Yet this is likely to exacerbate depression in the longer term, as the distance opens up between you and your loved ones and financial harms start to impact your life.
- Anxiety and Stress
Every bet raises the stakes, not just in cash terms but for your emotions too. Constant worry about mounting debts, feeling the need to hide the truth from those you care about, and the unpredictability of each bet can be overwhelming. The panic brought on by losing more than you can afford, finding yourself chasing losses despite promising yourself you wouldn’t, or simply dealing with the fallout after a gambling session can all intensify the strain on your emotions and mind.
- Social Isolation
Do you find yourself pulling away from friends and family, hiding your actions out of embarrassment or shame? This kind of isolation can amplify feelings of loneliness, taking an even greater toll on your mental well-being and pushing you further towards self-medicating with gambling. And those relationships that once felt like safe havens? They can become tense, adding another layer of emotional distress.
- Decreased Self-Esteem
As losses accumulate, you might start questioning your decision-making abilities, worth, and value to your loved ones and self-esteem. Such continuous self-reflection can chip away at your confidence, leaving you more vulnerable to additional mental health challenges.
- Substance Abuse and Gambling
There's a deep connection between problem gambling and substance abuse. If you've ever sought solace in drugs or alcohol to cope with the overwhelming guilt, shame, or anxiety brought on by your gambling, please understand you're not alone. Combining these challenges can intensify the strain on your mental health, but recognising this is a crucial step towards seeking help and healing.
It's clear that the effects of gambling go beyond the simple act of placing a bet. The intertwining of these emotional, psychological, and financial aspects can sometimes lead you down a challenging path. But the most crucial takeaway is that help is out there, and there's always hope. No matter how deep or dark the situation may seem, many people like you have sought help and are better off for it.
Problem gambling and mental well-being are deeply intertwined. It's a tough cycle to break, but having open communication with loved ones and looking for support can be a positive step towards overcoming it.
If you're facing such challenges or know someone who is, seeking professional help is essential, and therapies and counselling can provide tools and strategies to combat addictive behaviours.
It is important to know that you are not alone on this journey and that many resources are available to help you.