Our PGHL team members came across this interesting article and thought it might be helpful at this time of year: https://800gambler.org/dont-gamble-with-the-winter-blues/.
Disordered gamblers may also struggle with psychiatric conditions. Disordered gambling has a comorbidity of 96% rate with issues like anxiety, depression, and substance use. These conditions can feed into each other, posing a greater challenge for treatment than they would alone.
One such condition, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), rises to prominence around this time of year. As winter marches on and the daylight hours grow shorter, more and more people experience this form of depression. Factors like reduced sunlight and disrupted sleep cycles due to the change in seasons can lead to the development of SAD. Symptoms of this disorder include:
- Changes in appetite
- Low energy
- Problems sleeping
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts
76% of disordered gamblers experience depression to some degree. Some depressed people may to turn to outlets like gambling. An activity like casino gambling may be a welcome respite to the boredom, loneliness or general malaise that people with depression experience.
Depression can also result from one’s frustration or inability to cope with their disordered gambling. The conditions of disordered gambling and depression often go hand-in-hand, exacerbating each other’s symptoms.
Treatments that help individuals with conditions like SAD remain effective, whether or not they also struggle with disordered gambling.
One of the best ways to combat a disorder brought on by the change in seasons is light therapy. Reduced sunlight in the winter months may interfere with the body’s production of serotonin and melatonin, chemicals that regulate mood and wakefulness, respectively. The use of a lightbox can help to address these imbalances.
Antidepressant drugs have also proven effective in the treatment of SAD. This kind of medication directly addresses the irregular production of neurotransmitters like serotonin to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Although they do not cure depression — at the moment, no medication can — they help to restore emotional balance in those struggling with depressive disorders.
Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy have proven, long-term benefits. With the assistance of a psychiatric professional, individuals can learn to identify and address harmful thought patterns. This kind of treatment can reduce the length of depressive episodes by providing coping tools to better manage the symptoms of depression.
If you or a loved one are struggling with SAD, depression and gambling seek help. Visit our website at http://www.problemgamblinghelp.ca/.