Problem Gambling and Co Existing Mental Health Disorders

An estimated 2% of the adult population in the USA exhibits compulsive gambling behavior, although the proportion grows for certain demographic segments. For instance, gambling disorder (GD) among members of the military is 3.5 times higher than among civilians, while competitive athletes (collegiate, professional, etc.) experience problem gambling rates of about 6%. Higher prevalence among these and other population segments are not solely attributed to increased access and normalization of the activity (i.e. casinos on military bases). Instead, there is data to suggest that co-existing mental health disorders may help explain disproportionate rates of GD for millions of Americans.

For the uninitiated, the concept of comorbidity in mental health refers to the simultaneous presence of two or more disorders in an individual. Problem gambling comorbidity has become widely studied with the sharp increase in gambling behavior to follow the legalization of sports betting across select U.S. states.

It’s important for individuals, households, and organizations alike to know which mental health disorders co-exist with GD. Why? For one, someone with a related mental health disorder who does not yet gamble will understand that they face a higher risk of developing GD and may therefore abstain. Meanwhile, those who may already exhibit problematic gambling behavior and a cooccurring disorder can benefit from a more targeted treatment and therapy strategy. The latter matters because it delineates which mental health support platforms are and are not qualified to treat a given individual (more on this below). Please read ahead for more information on problem gambling comorbidity.

Mental Health Issues That Are Known to Co-Exist with Gambling Disorder

ADHD and Gambling

An estimated 5% of the American adult population has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Research shows that the prevalence of those at-risk of gambling disorder is more than double for people with ADHD. For more information on ADHD and gambling, click here.

Anxiety and Gambling

Approximately 19% of the U.S. adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Data suggests that lifetime prevalence for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) among problem gamblers is between 11.2 and 16.6%. Click here for more information on anxiety and gambling.

Bipolar Disorder and Gambling

Bipolar disorder afflicts approximately 2.6% of the U.S. adult population. Studies have shown that the rate of moderate to severe problem gambling is four times higher in people with bipolar disorder when compared to the general population. View more on bipolar disorder and gambling.

Depression and Gambling

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 8.3% of the U.S. adult population struggles with depression. Clinical research has consistently revealed that up to 75% of compulsive gamblers suffer from symptoms of major depression, making it one of the most concerning co-existing mental health disorders. Please read this resource on depressed gamblers to learn more.

OCD and Gambling

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is diagnosed in approximately 2.5 million adult Americans, while studies on certain segments of the population finds a 42% GD prevalence in those with OCD. View more on this research regarding OCD and gambling right here.

PTSD and Gambling

Approximately 6% of the U.S. population lives with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent data finds that among groups of individuals with gambling addictions, up to 34% suffer from PTSD. View more on the connection between PTSD and gambling.

Schizophrenia and Gambling

Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that around 1% of Americans are affected by schizophrenia. Studies confirm that the presence of schizophrenia among people who meet clinical criteria for GD is approximately 4-times greater than the prevalence rate in the general population. Even more concerning, is that some prescription medications used to manage symptoms of schizophrenia can promote gambling behavior.

For counseling for problem gambling and co-existing mental health disorders to be effective, only therapists who specialize in GD are qualified to formulate and maintain a recovery strategy. Kindbridge Behavioral Health is America’s preeminent online support platform for problem gambling amongst the vulnerable populations addressed above. Reach out via the contacts provided below to discuss treatment options at an individual, household, or organizational level.

Don’t Gamble with Co Existing Mental Health Disorders

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Co Existing Mental Health Disorders and Gambling Comorbidity