Problem Gambling, Anxiety, and Mental Health Checks During Tense Times

January 21, 2021
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc.

While some are excited that the New Year has begun, it may be a different story for others. The continuation of pandemic health risks in the United States, job insecurity, and a tense political climate may cause feelings of anxiety and panic. While 2020 was difficult, everyone should stay keen when it comes to their mental health, especially when it comes to problem gambling. Unlike with substance abuse, problem gambling does not present obvious physical symptoms and can remain undetected by even those closest to the gambler — until the situation becomes dire. It’s imperative to learn the signs and risk factors to stay aware!

Anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation are among the risk factors for problem gambling, which, for some people, have become more prevalent in the pandemic. Research has shown that those who suffer from problem gambling are “at an increased risk to develop stress-related conditions, such as hypertension, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular disease, and peptic ulcer disease,” and also are more likely to experience an “exacerbation and initiation of major depressive episodes, anxiety disorders, or substance use disorders” [1]. Many individuals who struggle with problem gambling are not only struggling with addiction itself but the consequences that come with it that beyond the personal medical and mental health impacts can include family conflict, debt, medical problems, legal matters, and even suicidal ideation and attempts.

Over the past year, more than one in five help seekers contacting the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine (22%) reported the gambler had suicidal ideation or attempts, 68% stated the gambler experienced anxiety as a result of the gambling problem, and 67% reported the gambler suffered from depression, reflecting a 5% increase from last year in reported gambling-related depression [2]. Know that no one is alone in struggling with problem gambling. Help and hope are available for anyone suffering from gambling addiction, and treatment is possible. The FCCG offers a Confidential, Multilingual, 24/7 Problem Gambling HelpLine for Individuals who struggle with problem gambling, including loved ones. Even if you have no personal experience with problem gambling, join us in spreading the word that help and hope are available!

If you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, contact the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848) to get connected with services and supports that pave the path to recovery, tailored to each individual’s situation. The HelpLine may also be reached by texting (321) 978-0555, emailing fccg@gamblinghelp.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

[1 ]Fong, T. (2005, March). The biopsychosocial consequences of pathological gambling. Retrieved January 11, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004711/

[2]  24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report., 2020 ed., The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc., 2020, 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report.