How Gambling Affects Your Mental Health

Whether you’re gambling for fun, to win big money or simply because it makes you happy, you’re engaging in an activity that affects your mental health. If you’re gambling excessively, it may affect your finances, work, education or personal relationships. Problematic gambling can even lead to criminal activities or bankruptcy.

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. It requires three elements to be present: consideration, risk, and a prize.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine – a feel-good neurotransmitter that typically makes you happy when you’re winning. But dopamine also stimulates areas of the brain that are similar to those activated by drugs of abuse, and that is why many people find it hard to stop gambling.

In addition to being a source of stress, problematic gambling can also strain your relationships with family and friends. Individuals with a gambling disorder often downplay or lie about their gambling behaviors, and they may rely on other people to fund their addiction or replace money lost through gambling. These actions can leave loved ones feeling angered, betrayed and resentful.

While it’s impossible to prevent all forms of gambling, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of becoming addicted. Start by making a plan to limit how much you spend, stick to that plan, and avoid impulsive gambling. Lastly, make sure you always tip your dealers when playing casino games.