Gambling and Mood Disorders

Gambling is the act of placing something of value (money, marbles, cards) on an event that is uncertain or unlikely to occur. The gambler hopes to win more than he or she loses, and winning depends on luck rather than skill. Gambling can also involve betting on games of chance, such as roulette or bingo, and betting on events in the news, such as football games or horse races. The practice has a widespread global social and commercial presence, and the gambling industry is a major source of employment and income for many people.

Some people engage in gambling to make money, but they can become addicted and experience significant losses. Gambling may also trigger underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. In addition to seeking help for these issues, compulsive gamblers should try to learn healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and cope with boredom. For example, they might exercise, spend time with friends who do not gamble, or practice relaxation techniques.

It can be hard to know when gambling becomes a problem, and some individuals attempt to hide their behavior from others. For those who have serious problems, there are inpatient and residential treatment and rehab programs. Some of these programs provide support groups and family therapy. Others offer credit counseling, which can help people understand why they gamble and how it affects their lives. There are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, but some people can benefit from psychiatric treatments such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers.