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Editorials, Sports

Sports Gambling and Mental Health

Betting can be an enjoyable activity. However, it is important to know when to stop to prevent the negative consequences of excessive gambling.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 24th March 2023

Sports betting can be a form of entertainment and can provide a way for people to enjoy and engage with their favorite sports. Some people may also enjoy the challenge and strategy involved in sports betting. Additionally, if done responsibly and within one’s financial means, sports betting can be a way to potentially earn some extra income.


People gamble for many reasons: the adrenaline rush to win money, socialise or escape from worries or stress. However, it is important to note that sports betting can also be addictive and can lead to financial difficulties if not done responsibly. It is important to set a budget and stick to it, as well as to be aware of the risks involved in sports betting. Additionally, it is important to only participate in sports betting in jurisdictions where it is legal and regulated.


Overall, whether sports betting is good or not depends on the individual and their personal circumstances. It is important to weigh the potential benefits and risks and make an informed decision based on one’s own situation. For some people, gambling can get out of control. If you find yourself betting more than you can afford to lose, borrowing money, or feeling stressed and anxious about gambling, you may have a problem.


How can gambling affect my mental health?


Gambling can cause low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression if it becomes a problem. Gambling can become an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol, if you use it compulsively or feel out of control. Gambling can affect the part of our brain that releases dopamine. A ‘feel good’ hormone that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. When we win a bet, our brain gives us an emotional reward. If you get addicted to gambling, other pleasurable activities may no longer make you feel good. So instead, you will gamble to get the same buzz.


Gambling also has many more negative effects on mental health:


Addiction: Gambling addiction is a recognized mental health disorder that can have serious consequences on an individual’s life, including financial and relationship problems. The constant urge to gamble can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation.


Anxiety and Depression: Gambling can lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression, particularly when an individual is experiencing financial difficulties as a result of gambling losses.


Impulsivity: Impulsivity is a common characteristic among people who gamble frequently, and it can lead to impulsive decisions that have negative consequences.


Stress: Gambling can lead to high levels of stress, particularly when an individual is betting large amounts of money or trying to recover losses.


Sleep Disorders: People who gamble frequently may experience disrupted sleep patterns due to worry and anxiety.


Substance Abuse: In some cases, individuals who struggle with gambling addiction may also turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with the stress and anxiety associated with their gambling.


The good news is that your brain chemistry can change back. Everyday life can feel enjoyable again. There’s also a strong link between gambling problems and thoughts of suicide. If you have thoughts of ending your life or don’t feel you can keep yourself safe, endeavour to reach out to a professional. If you have a mental health problem, you’re more at risk of harmful gambling. For example, you may gamble to feel better about yourself when you’re depressed or distract yourself if you’re angry or upset.


How To Overcome Gambling Addiction


Overcoming gambling addiction can be a challenging process, but there are several steps you can take to help you break the cycle:


Admit You Have A Problem: The first step in overcoming gambling addiction is to recognize and admit that you have a problem. This can be difficult, but it is an important first step in seeking help.


Seek Professional Help: There are many resources available for individuals struggling with gambling addiction, including counseling, therapy, and support groups. A mental health professional can help you develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs.



Develop A Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who understand your struggles and can provide emotional support as you work to overcome your addiction.


Avoid Triggers: Try to avoid situations and places that may trigger the urge to gamble, such as casinos or online gambling sites.


Take Care Of Yourself: Engage in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.


Practice Self-control: Set limits on your gambling behavior, such as a budget or a specific amount of time spent gambling.


Stay Accountable: Share your progress with your support network and hold yourself accountable for your actions.


Remember that recovery from gambling addiction is a journey and may involve setbacks. Be patient and persistent in seeking help and developing healthy coping mechanisms.


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