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Just like chemical substance addictions, those suffering from compulsive gambling disorder can go through serious withdrawal. Identifying the signs and symptoms of gambling withdrawal can help you manage them. Studies on behavioral addictions have found that there are a range of different withdrawal symptoms. These are grouped as either physical symptoms or emotional symptoms. You might experience some, all, or none of the symptoms listed here. 

Emotional Gambling Withdrawal Symptoms

To better understand gambling withdrawal, there is need to comprehend the role of brain chemistry and dopamine in gambling addiction. The gambling withdrawal period often results in a flood of symptoms that can result in extreme emotional lows. Emotional gambling withdrawal symptoms can include, but are not limited to, the following:


Depression is one of the most common symptoms of gambling withdrawal. Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Signs of depression include:

  •  Feeling helpless and hopeless. Paradoxically, some people gamble to feel like they're in control, only to lose that feeling shortly after.
  •  Loss of interest in daily activities.
  • Changes to sleep patterns. Sleep is essential for mental well-being and sleep disruptions can be indicators of other problems.

sad man gambling head in hands

Cravings to Gamble

Cravings occur because the brain knows that the easiest and quickest way to get the “thrill” sensation your body is yearning for is by gambling. Cravings for an addictive behavior are much more intense than something like everyday food cravings. You have powerful memories linked to gambling which makes it seem even more appealing. Cravings come and go and are at times weak or extremely powerful. Their types and intensity differ from one person to another. Cravings typically involve a trigger, which immediately causes obsessive thinking. 


Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Anxiety can prevent you from confronting your issues. It alters your perceptions and makes you think that things are much worse than they are. Anxiety is normal everyday experience, but it becomes a disorder when it’s extreme, long lasting and difficult to control. 


Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can cause depression, poor health, decreased concentration and lack of motivation.

Understanding gambling withdrawal

Physical Symptoms of Excessive Gambling

The emotional withdrawal symptoms discussed can also present themselves as physical symptoms. Anxiety or depression can cause sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause pale skin, weight gain/loss, acne and dark circles under the eyes. Physical gambling withdrawal symptoms may include:  

  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Racing heart
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle tension and/or soreness
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremors
  • Nausea

Thankfully, you are not likely to experience all of these, nor will you experience them at the same time. Have you tried quitting on your own and it seems too hard? Are you experiencing withdrawal symptoms?

Contact a gambling addiction treatment professional who can help you or your loved overcome gambling. Let’s chat confidentially about gambling addiction and learn more about the assistance that can help you get your life back on track. Taking this first step could change your entire life for the better.

Topics: Gambling Addiction

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.