Mental Health and Gambling
Whether you’re buying a lottery ticket, playing poker, betting on horses or football teams, gambling involves placing something of value on an event with the hope of winning. This could be money, prizes or services. Gambling has a huge impact on the economy and can provide a source of employment as well as tax revenue for governments. It can also be a positive form of entertainment, providing individuals with something to aim for and the feeling of achievement when they win.
It’s important to recognise when you have a problem with gambling and seek help before it gets out of control. There are a number of different ways to get support including treatment, self-help and joining a gambling support group. It’s also helpful to have a strong support network and try and find other things you enjoy that don’t involve gambling, such as exercise, socialising with friends or taking up new hobbies.
People gamble for many reasons, such as the adrenaline rush, the chance of a big win or to escape from worries or stress. However, gambling can have a negative impact on your mental health if it becomes addictive. If you find yourself hiding your gambling, lying about it to family and friends or spending more time and money on it than you can afford, it may be a sign that you have a problem.
Research has found that some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. Combined with other factors, such as life events and mental health conditions, this can lead to harmful gambling. The type of gambling you choose can also have a big impact on your mental health. For example, if you’re only gambling with your savings, it’s less likely that you will experience problems than if you’re investing large sums of money in a casino.
Regardless of whether you’re gambling on a slot machine, online game or card game, the odds are that you will lose more than you win. This is because there’s a very small chance of winning. In addition, there’s often a high cost to play. Whether it’s buying tickets for the next big jackpot or betting on your favourite horse, there are often fees involved that can quickly add up.
A study published in 2015 found that people who spend most of their time on gambling have higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than those who spend little or no time on the activity. This is because people who are addicted to gambling tend to avoid socialising and other healthy activities and instead turn to gambling as a way to fill the void.
The best way to address a problem with gambling is to seek professional help. Psychotherapy can help you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. This type of therapy can be done individually or in groups and is often conducted by a trained mental health professional. For example, a therapist can help you deal with stress, develop healthier ways to relax and improve your relationship skills.