The Relationship between Gambling and Anti-Depressants

The Relationship between Gambling and Anti-Depressants

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the authoritative guide for mental health professionals, and its fifth edition (DSM-5) in 2013 debuted a significant change. The new manual renamed “pathological gambling” as “gambling disorder,” meaning it is a behavioral addiction. The rationale for the change is that gambling disorders closely resemble addictions to drugs, because they activate the reward system in the brain. Many gambling addicts also have co-occurring mental health disorders, like depression, and they may have problems with using medications like anti-depressants. If you are a gambling addict who abuses anti-depressants, then seek professional help to recover.

How Gambling Addiction Affects Mental Health

In 2013, the Journal of Gambling Studies provided the following data on recovering gambling addicts:

  • 86% of the patients screened positive for a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Severe gambling was more commonly associated with multiple co-occurring disorders
  • Patients with multiple disorders had higher rates of poor psychosocial functioning

Depression commonly co-occurs with gambling addiction; a study by the Minnesota Medicine journal, published online in 2007 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), noted that these two conditions share the following connections:

  • Depression may develop in response to financial difficulties, shame and embarrassment from gambling addiction
  • Higher doses of anti-depressant medications may reduce the symptoms of a gambling disorder
  • Gambling addicts do not need to have depression for anti-depressants to seem effective

Many anti-depressants can treat the effects of gambling addiction and depression alike, but using any substance is risky for addicts.

Problems Gambling Addicts Have with Anti-Depressants

The Postgraduate Medical Journal published an article in 1998 stating that, despite possible withdrawal symptoms, anti-depressants are not addictive. Nevertheless, addicts exude compulsive behaviors that can lead to overuse and the following side effects:

  • Dangerous drug reactions known as Serotonin syndrome
  • Physical discomforts like headaches, nausea and diarrhea
  • Mood changes resulting in anxiety, agitation and nervousness
  • Emergence or amplification of a mental health disorder
  • Major health issues like heart attack, stroke, seizures and hepatitis

Anti-depressants can initiate or increase suicidal thoughts, particularly for children and adolescents after dosage changes. Developing a psychological addiction to anti-depressants is also a risk, so seek professional help to treat gambling addiction, anti-depressant abuse and depression.

Treatment for Gambling Addiction, Depression and Anti-Depressant Abuse

Depression and anti-depressant abuse can co-occur with gambling addiction, but treatment centers can treat both problems at the same time with the following therapies:

  • Talk-therapy to identify gambling triggers and coping strategies
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to redress maladaptive thought patterns
  • Family counseling to address strained relationships and household dysfunction
  • Psychodynamic counseling to identify and treat unconscious internal conflicts
  • Group counseling to share experiences, ideas and emotions with other patients
  • Holistic therapies like yoga to promote overall wellness

Treatment can also provide medically supervised detox, which weans drugs from a user’s system, this minimizing withdrawal symptoms and increasing the patient’s safety and comfort. Seek professional help to get and stay clean from these issues.

Find Help for Gambling Addiction and Depression

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