If a young man is a chronic gambler, the odds are extremely high that he also suffers from depression, according to a new study.
For the study, lead researcher Frédéric Dussault, Ph.D., of the University of Quebec at Montreal in Canada used data from an ongoing long-term study that began in 1984. That study followed a group of 1,162 kindergarten boys from economically disadvantaged areas in Montreal.
Over the years, information was collected about the socio-family setting the boys grew up in, how impulsive they were, and the quality of their relationships with their parents and friends.
The current study includes data from 888 participants who were asked at the ages of 17, 23, and 28 years old about possible gambling or depression problems.
Only three percent experienced increasing chronic gambling problems between the ages of 17 and 28 years old, according to the study’s findings. This corresponds with the prevalence rate of problem gambling among adults of between one percent and three percent, the researcher confirms.
However, the study did find that 73 percent of the young men with significant gambling issues also suffer from depressive problems.
These problems develop hand-in-hand, becoming even more severe over time, the researchers noted.
The study also found that very impulsive boys are more likely to become increasingly depressed and have gambling problems.
The problematic gambling behavior did not necessarily decline by the time the young men turned 28 years old. According to Dussault, this may be because gambling is legal once individuals reach adulthood.
Also, the influence of the wrong kind of friends who entice others to commit offenses often diminish as young people grow older, he added.
“Gambling problems may be more a personal problem similar to an addiction — once acquired, they are difficult to get rid of,” Dussault said.
He suggests that gambling problems be treated alongwith depression.
He also noted that while a strong parent-child relationship could counter the emergence of depressive symptoms, it will not necessarily do so for gambling tendencies. That’s why he believes early prevention programs should target specific risk factors, such as being very impulsive or making the wrong friends.
The study was published in Springer’s Journal of Gambling Studies.