Can Gambling Lead to Anxiety Disorder?
Worrying about finances or feeling nervous or fidgety? You may be displaying symptoms of anxiety and it may be associated with gambling.
Anxiety is a normal response to an overwhelming situation and there are lots of things you can do to treat anxiety.
Signs that anxiety may be a problem
Although some people find that gambling initially provides an escape from stressful feelings, generally this relief is short-lived and over time the anxiety actually increases.
Signs of anxiety include:
- Heart palpitations
- Sweaty hands
- Feeling out of control
- Consistently feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling fearful
- Butterflies in stomach
- Persistent unwanted thoughts.
Most people experience some of these signs at different times in their lives but if you notice they are happening more often you may be struggling with anxiety.
How is anxiety related to gambling?
For some, gambling may be a coping strategy as it may initially reduce stress. However as gambling progresses and becomes a problem, it often creates more anxiety and uncertainty.
Some gamblers who have felt anxious say that initially gambling provided a distraction and sense of escape. They described “zoning out” and feeling like they were in their own world.
Getting into the “zone” is often described by people who have a gambling problem. This is a risk as people gamble for longer and spend more money than intended.
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 temporary way of relieving anxiety.
There are lots of resources available to treat anxiety, so if you think anxiety is a problem reach out for some help. This could include:
- Enlisting the help of others. Talk to someone who you trust and know will listen to your concerns.
- Visiting your G.P. or a mental health professional. They can conduct an assessment and provide treatment and referral if appropriate.
- Learning relaxation and stress management skills can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Ask one of our Counsellors about these strategies.