Imagine yourself in a twinkly, noisy casino, filling up on free food and drinks at the buffet and rolling dice to see whether lady luck is on your side. It’s the stuff of movies and fairy tales, but the reality is that gambling can be dangerous, even for those who enjoy it in small doses. In fact, there are many different ways to gamble, and not all of them are healthy for people with mood disorders like depression or anxiety.
There are four main reasons that people gamble. For some it’s for fun, to get that rush or ‘high’ that is associated with gambling. Others do it for coping reasons – to forget their worries, or because they’re trying to escape the stresses of everyday life. Some also do it for financial reasons, to win money and be able to change their lives for the better.
Regardless of the reason, gambling can have a serious impact on mental and physical health. It can cause relationship problems, affect performance at work or study and can lead to debt and even homelessness. For some, it can lead to suicide.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s gambling, reach out for support. Find a local gambling helpline or attend a self-help group for family members, like Gam-Anon. You should also set boundaries around managing money, and make sure your own finances are not at risk. It’s also important to take regular breaks from gambling, to improve focus.