Betting Against Wellbeing: Gambling and its Psychological Effects

Betting Against Wellbeing: Gambling and its Psychological Effects

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

The simmering allure of gambling often conceals the potential risk lurking beneath its surface, especially concerning mental health. The thrill of the bet and the chase for the win can lead to a complex interplay of emotions, from exhilarating highs to despondent lows. As this article will explore, the impact of gambling extends far beyond the wallet, influencing psychological wellbeing and raising important questions about its effects on the mind and spirit.

“Gambling can cause low self-esteem, stress, anxiety, and depression if gambling becomes a problem. Gambling can become an addition, just like drugs or alcohol, if you use it compulsively or feel out of control. Gambling can affect the part of our brain that releases dopamine. A “feel good” hormone that creates feelings of pleasure and reward[1] .”

All of these effects are regrettable, and to understand them, one must start from the beginning: What is gambling? Gambling is “the activity of betting money, for example in a game or on a horse race[2] .” “Gambling, the betting or staking of something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on the outcome of a game, a contest, or an uncertain event whose result may be determined by chance or accident or have an unexpected result by reason of the bettor’s miscalculation[3] .”

What causes problem gambling? According to the mental Health Foundation[4] :

  • Having relatives, especially a parent, with a gambling problem.
  • Being introduced to gambling at an early age.
  • Pressure from friends to gamble.
  • Your personality: Being competitive, impulsive, restless, or easily bored can increase your risk of having a gambling problem.
  • Taking medication to treat Parkinson’s or restless leg syndrome. This can cause the rare side effect of compulsive behavior, including compulsive gambling.

According to Dr. Timothy W. Fong, clinical professor of Psychiatry at the Jane and Terry Samel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA[5] , “technology has made gambling more accessible for compulsive gamblers, with people able to place wagers from their smartphones. Some people link their credit cards to digital gambling apps and can add money with a push of the “send” button.”

What are the signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling (gambling disorder[6] )?

  1. Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning gambling activities and how to get more gambling money.
  2. Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill.
  3. Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success.
  4. Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling.
  5. Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away.

How to stop gambling? According to Gateway Foundation[7] :

  1. Understand the problem.
  2. Pinpoint your triggers.
  3. Identify thoughts and feelings.
  4. Avoid high-risk situations.
  5. Challenge your beliefs.
  6. Delay the decision.
  7. Recognize the benefits of stopping.
  8. Find healthy alternatives.
  9. Practice gratitude.
  10. Seek social support.

In closing, the relationship between gambling and mental health is complex and often fraught with hidden dangers. It is imperative to recognize that the seductive nature of gambling can lead to serious mental health issues, from anxiety to addiction. As a society, fostering awareness and providing support for those affected is key.









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