Feeling blue?

Gambling can impact on mood, beyond the time when people are actually gambling. Find out more about how gambling can affect a person's mood from day to day.

How is gambling related to mood?

Most people, whether they have a problem with gambling or not, can relate to the idea that people get excited when they win, and feel disappointed when they lose.

Many gamblers report feeling down. This can mean anything from "feeling blue" to feeling really bad. Beyond the immediate loss, the consequences of problem gambling can be severe, leading to financial, legal and relationship crises, all of which contribute to low mood as well as high levels of shame and guilt.

Signs of depression may include:

  • Increased irritability and frustration
  • Loss of interest in activities and friends
  • Feeling tired and worthless

How common is depression and gambling?

A recent study has found that people with a gambling problem were twice as likely to be depressed and 18 times more likely to experience severe psychological distress than people without a gambling problem ( 5).

As well as this, the connection between mood and gambling is not always one-way.

For example, feeling depressed, down or alone can place people at risk of developing or increasing their gambling problem:

  • people may use gambling as a break or escape from negative feelings or situations.
  • gambling may provide a 'pick me up' or a sense of feeling connected to other people.

A person's mood can place them at an increased risk of gambling more, or the gambling may be masking an underlying issue such as depression.

Dealing with gambling and depression

Whilst the jury is still out on exactly how the relationship between mood and gambling operates, both researchers and clinicians alike have highlighted the importance of looking at both the gambling and mood in addressing the problem.

Understanding and acknowledging both aspects of your mood and behaviour, will be important in addressing the problem. Looking at both the gambling and mood helps you to decide what kind of supports and strategies you might want to consider using. For example, if you are aware that you may gamble because you are lonely, it will be important to look at both the gambling and the loneliness when taking steps to get your control back.

Next steps  

If you think this is an issue for you, it is important to get help 

  • Talk to someone who you trust and know will listen to your concerns
  • Lifeline is a 24 hour telephone counselling service. They provide counselling, information and referral. Call Lifeline on 131 114
  • Visit your G.P. or a mental health professional. They can conduct an assessment and provide treatment and referral if appropriate

For more information, ideas on where to go to get help or to do a self assessment visit http://www.beyondblue.org.au/