Many women who are showing signs of compulsive gambling disorder do not seek help, nor do their friends and family push them to get help. This is partly due to the fact that women with gambling disorders often started gambling as a way to escape other problems that were weighing them down. Divorce, loss of a family member, unemployment or other traumas can be difficult to deal with and escaping into games, or video lottery terminals, is an easy way to avoid the reality and depression that they may be facing.
Gambling destroys lives regardless of gender and many cases of gambling addiction exist hand-in-hand with mental illnesses. Even if “a little gambling” is being used to avoid the pain of something else, it’s important that you seek treatment to address the issues at hand.
Gambling & Depression
Up to 76 % of people in gambling addiction treatment are also experiencing depression at any one time. This staggering statistic is coupled with recent knowledge that if your loved one has a gambling problem, they’re up to eighteen times more likely to be experiencing psychological distress as well. Problem gambling and depression, or other forms of mental distress, are far from rare.
While behavioral addictions like compulsive gambling are complex issues, put simply some people use gambling as a way to feel better. It is particularly common in women to seek a release from everyday life and stresses through gambling – 95% of women who gamble do it to escape their own lives.
Initially the thrill of gambling seems like a good fix, but quickly problem gamblers discover that it can exacerbate their issues further by causing stress and harming relationships with the ones they love. What was originally an escape can become a source of psychological distress in itself – with a compulsive gambler lying and potentially even stealing from those they love the most to finance their gambling.
Signs of Depression
The way depression presents in your mother, sister, loved one or family member can vary wildly depending on their personality and concerns. If you think they are depressed, it’s best to seek professional advice on the matter rather than going it alone or making too many assumptions. That said, there are some common signs of depression you can look out for if you are concerned. These include:
- Feeling helpless and hopeless. It’s exactly this loss of control that can lead many towards gambling, which paradoxically can feel like something they can control.
- Loss of interest in daily activities.
- Changes to sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for our mental well being, and disruptions to this can often be indicators of problems.
What If They’re Not Depressed?
It’s important to note that gambling can also be associated with various other psychological distresses. It’s not just depression that can play a major role in compulsive gambling. ADHD, other substance use disorders, panic disorders, and schizophrenia have all been linked with compulsive gambling.
Rather than simply identifying one or the other – a gambling addiction or a mental illness – in your loved one it’s important to approach both of these issues together and with understanding. We appreciate this can be hard at first – it’s likely that either of these issues has had turbulent effects on your relationship either now or in the past – but if your loved one or family member is ready for help treating both a mental illness and compulsive addiction simultaneous can be a crucial step towards recovery.
Treating both gambling addiction and its root cause is an approach often known as ‘dual-diagnosis’ and it’s something we specialize in at Algamus. By treating the addiction and the source, we can better begin your loved one’s journey to recovery.
Compulsive gambling is not something to be ashamed of and seeking advice is exactly the best way to combat your loved one’s challenges. Sometimes all they need is the offer of help. If you are concerned about a friend, loved one, or family member one of the best things you can do is seek professional advice. When looking for professional help, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Look for a program that treats both the gambling addiction and the source of that addiction. It is the pairing of these two disorders can cause the cyclical behavior you may see in your loved one or family member.
- Where possible, find a program that truly understands your family member or loved one. Gambling addiction treatment is a complex process and requires the participation and trust of those in the treatment programs. From the outside looking in it may be hard to understand the challenges faced by those in recovery. Finding a treatment program that allows interaction with peers and offers advice from recovering addicts can be key to setting your loved one on the right path. At Algamus many of our staff are recovering addicts and we know this makes the world of difference to our clients.