Gambling involves risking something of value (usually money) on an event whose outcome is largely dependent on chance or luck, rather than skill. It can be done in a variety of ways, including playing casino games (such as slot machines), sports betting, lottery games and online gambling. In some cases, it can be harmful to your mental health. If you are worried about your own or someone else’s gambling, this page provides information about the risks and what to do if you have concerns.
People gamble for a number of reasons, from the thrill of winning to socialising. However, it is important to recognise that if you have a gambling problem then it can cause serious harm to your health, relationships and finances. This is why it is important to seek help if you have concerns about your own gambling or that of a friend or family member.
There are a range of treatment and support services available, and many people who suffer from gambling addiction go on to recover successfully. Cognitive-behaviour therapy, for example, helps individuals to identify and challenge irrational beliefs that fuel their addiction. It also teaches people to resist unwanted thoughts and behaviours, which can help them to overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives.
One of the main causes of harmful gambling is financial problems, which can lead to debt and bankruptcy. It is therefore important to address any financial issues as quickly and as safely as possible, for example, by speaking to a debt advisor at StepChange.
Some gambling has been linked to a range of negative mental health impacts, such as depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness. These can lead to a range of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as self-harm or even thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to contact your GP or a crisis support service immediately.
Other factors that can lead to harmful gambling include a lack of self-control, secretive gambling and the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with stress. It can also be difficult to stop gambling once you have started, and some people end up spending more than they can afford to lose in a bid to win back their lost money.
Gambling is also a good way to boost the economy of some communities, for example in Oklahoma where money from gambling supports around 70,000 jobs and contributes to state taxes and tribal exclusivity fees. In addition, gambling can have positive effects on mental health, as it can provide an escape from everyday worries and stresses. This can be especially useful for those who struggle with mental health conditions, as it can provide a way to distract themselves and feel more in control of their lives.