Like all addictions, compulsive
gambling causes intense distress and continual disruptions in most areas
of life: It messes up your mind, body, family and work. Even worse,
compulsive gamblers are significantly more likely to have suicidal
thoughts and to make suicide attempts than those with other addictions.
When gambling is a problem
The term "compulsive gambling"
includes a condition known as pathological gambling, a progressive
addiction where someone:
Becomes increasingly preoccupied with gambling.
Needs to bet more money more frequently.
Feels restless or irritable when trying to stop "chasing"
although it is causing serious problems.
Have you, or someone you care about,
lost control of your gambling?
Why depression and suicide are more
Factors that contribute to depression and suicide among
compulsive gamblers include:
Compulsive gamblers have higher occurrences of
insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer, high blood pressure,
migraines and other stress related physical problems than those in the
Psychiatric: Compulsive gambling is associated with major
depressive disorder, hypomania, bipolar disorder, and panic and anxiety
Addiction: Fifty percent of compulsive gamblers
are also substance abusers.
Problem gamblers also accumulate debts that often
result in foreclosures on mortgages and bankruptcy.
The financial burdens associated
with compulsive gambling can be enormous. It is often cited as the
precipitating event prior to a suicide attempt. For example, a patient in
Florida lost more than $65,000 on Internet gambling in a few short months
by using credit cards. As debt accumulated and bills were neglected, the
stress, anger, guilt and remorse escalated, creating pain and despair for
As a result of this acute and
overwhelming distress, spouses of problem gamblers have higher rates of
stress-related physical problems such as headaches, insomnia, intestinal
disorders, asthma and depression. The suicide-attempt rate for spouses of
problem gamblers is three times higher than that of the general
Signs to watch for
Characteristics of gamblers who contemplate or attempt
Suffer from more psychiatric symptoms.
Are less satisfied with their living situations.
Report more days of marital, interpersonal and family
Abuse, or are addicted to, drugs or alcohol.
Have large debts.
Recently lost a large amount of money.
Symptoms of compulsive gambling
The American Psychiatric
Associationís diagnostic manual classifies compulsive gambling as an
impulse-control disorder. To meet the diagnostic criteria for compulsive
gambling, a person must show persistent gambling behaviour as indicated by
at least five of the following criteria:
with gambling (for example, reliving past gambling experiences,
handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money
with which to gamble).
Needs to gamble
with increasing amounts of money to achieve desired excitement.
Makes repeated, unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop
Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or
gambling as a way to escape problems or to relieve a dysphoric mood
(feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression).
money gambling, often returns another day to get even ("chasing" one's
Lies to family
members, therapists or others to conceal extent of involvement with
illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement to finance
or lost an important relationship, job, or educational or career
opportunity because of gambling.
Relies on others
to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by
If you are
concerned that you may have a gambling problem or suspect or worry about a
family member, use BanCop.net to Voluntary
ban yourself or ask your love one to use
it to ban themselves from gambling for a period.