Pathological gambling and mood disorders: Clinical associations and treatment implications

Suck Won Kim, Jon E. Grant, Elke D Eckert, Patricia L Faris, Boyd K. Hartman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Background: The rapidly expanding gambling business has resulted in an increasing number of gamblers, and the problem is likely to get worse in the future. Traditionally, mood and gambling symptoms have been known to overlap. In the present review we attempt to examine the diagnostic associations and implications for treatment. Method: Selected published papers on the frequencies of mood disorders among patients who have gambling disorder or gambling disorder among patients who have mood disorder have been reviewed. Recently emerging new treatment methods for gambling disorder have been reviewed and a brief summary has been added. Results: SCID based study results show a close link between gambling and mood disorders. The prevalence of manic disorder reaches to approximately one fourth of the pathological gambling disorder population. The prevalence of depression is much higher, reaching to over half of the population in some studies. Limitations: The studies included in the present paper involve inpatients, outpatients, subjects recruited through advertisements and prison populations. Thus the data need to be interpreted as such. Standardized assessment instruments are not used in all studies. Methodological issues such as primary or secondary nature of depression have not been addressed adequately in these studies. The findings, however, offer new insights for the assessment and treatment of complicated gambling disorder cases. Conclusions: A high prevalence rate of manic and depressive disorders has been recorded among pathological gambling disorder patients. A rational treatment approach to each defined subset of complicated gambling disorder is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Bipolar affective disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Manic disorder
  • Pathological gambling disorder


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