A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Can Problem Gambling Cause Mental Health Problems?” cites the findings of four scientific studies on the subject. Using medline, researchers searched for peer-reviewed articles from 1966 to 2001 that described the effects of gambling on human health. The articles must discuss screening methods and treatments for problem gambling, and they must have involved human subjects. While the research is preliminary, it provides important insight into the problem and its consequences.
Family members can offer support and encourage their loved one to quit gambling. It is important to realize that problem gambling is often a progressive problem and associated with high levels of suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety. By framing gambling as a health issue, family members can lessen the resistance that can arise when trying to change a loved one’s lifestyle. This can also prevent problem gambling from progressing further. And it may prevent further lifestyle inquiry or even a relapse.
While online tests do not diagnose a problem, they can help you identify it. They do not replace a face-to-face evaluation with a trained clinical professional. A trained clinical professional will assess the gambling problem in depth and develop a treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of the patient. The plan may include addressing family issues, financial concerns, legal difficulties, and the person’s professional situation. If you suspect that you might be a problem gambler, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Your health care provider can refer you to treatment providers in your area who will be able to help you.