Gambling and anxiety

Worrying about finances or feeling nervous or fidgety? You may be displaying symptoms of anxiety.

How is anxiety related to gambling? 

Sometimes people who are already anxious use gambling to reduce stress. In this way gambling is similar to other potentially harmful behaviours in that it is done to get relief from stress but it can actually make things worse.

Some gamblers who have felt anxious say that initially gambling has provided a distraction and sense of escape. They described "zoning out" and feeling like they are in their own world.

For some, gambling may be a coping strategy. However, it may create even more anxiety and uncertainty.

How common is anxiety and gambling?

Research has found a relationship between the degree of problem gambling and levels of anxiety. This suggests that some people may be gambling as a way of relieving anxiety.

Signs that anxiety may be a problem

Although some people find that gambling can initially provide an escape from stressful feelings, generally this relief is short-lived and over time the anxiety actually increases.

Signs of anxiety can be

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweaty hands
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling fearful
  • Butterflies in stomach
  • Persistent unwanted thoughts

For a self assessment please click 'self assessment' at Beyond Blue

Next steps 

These days, much more is known about anxiety and how to treat it. If you think anxiety is a problem, it is important to get help. 

  • Enlist the help of others. 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 Beyond Blue
  • Learning relaxation and stress management skills can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.  You can check out some of these strategies at the Beyond Blue website.

If you think that anxiety is affecting you, there are many options in terms of choosing what kind of support is right for you.

Talking to your G.P. or going to Beyond Blue now may be the first step.