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Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? This is something that can be related to the problem of gambling and depression. What makes the person go on excessive gambling? Is he suffering from depression? Or did gambling cause his depression? This article will present the relationship of depression and gambling and will examine what strategies to implement if a person is suffering from both mental states.

Depression then gambling. Gambling then depression.

Clinical depression is characterized by more than just a low mood or feeling sad. The person can go into an abysmal situation where all hope is lost. There will be lack of interest in their usual activities and they will become more distant in their relationships.

Biologically, there is a problem with the production and supply of neurotransmitters responsible for the regulation of mood. Serotonin and dopamine in the brain are said to be lower in cases of depression. When this happens, any possible reason that can uplift the mood and energy is an opportunity to regain normalcy. And this is how gambling comes in.

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The driving force to win a game and eventually winning it can send an overwhelming adrenaline rush. It’s quite addicting actually if the person is not able to control the impulses. If this continues, it can lead to the serious problem of gambling issues. So, in this premise, the person develops gambling behavior because of depression. Gambling is an attempt to get distracted from a problem, to escape from bad relationships and situations, work pressures, sadness, anxiety and other troubling thoughts.

Once the person has started gambling, the cycle continues until problems with finance and resources, relationships and career are affected or compromised. Basically, this will become an endless process where the cause and effect are not fully delineated.

How to help

Both conditions or situations are serious mental state problems that need urgent attention. Major depression can cripple the person in a way that he/she feels no hope in living because of the circumstances that are happening to his/her life. A serious complication of depression is suicide. Gambling, on the other hand, affects one’s life by exhausting all sources of income that can even extend to the creation of debts just to give in and gamble. Properties can be sold to augment the money used for betting. Before they know the extent of the problem, these persons are already buried in a big mess that it seems impossible for them to recover.

In order to stop the cycle, the person needs to be confronted that he/she has a problem. At first, this will be a difficult phase because they will be defensive in their actions. Some would rationalize that they only go to casinos to be away from their problems and once they are there, they feel happy and satisfied. Others would be in denial that their gambling actions are already doing more harm than good in their current life situation. They are hopeful that they can win big next time and everything will be settled. Nonetheless, if the win did not happen, then they are back to square one.

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A referral to a mental health professional is the best option if the problem is already out of hand. Gambling is likened to an addiction problem while depression is a mood disorder that will need specialized mental health care. In these times, support of family and friends are important to establish consistency. More often times, family members and even friends are included in the therapy to curb co-dependency and eliminate secondary gains.

Treatment will include psychotherapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications like antidepressants and mood stabilizers and attending group therapies and support groups.