Mindfulness problems and depression symptoms in everyday life predict dark flow during slots play: Implications for gambling as a form of escape. [subscription access article]

Abstract: Slot machine players refer to a state of absorption that researchers have labeled dark flow. Players become completely occupied by the game and forget everything else (leading to “dark” consequences such as spending more money than intended). We propose that players who experience dark flow have difficulty staying on task in everyday life, but, the reinforcing sights and sounds of slot machines rein in these otherwise wandering minds and induce these flow-like states. We assessed 129 gamblers for mindfulness problems (using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale), gambling problems (using the Problem Gambling Severity Index), and depressive symptoms (using the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale). Participants played a slot machine simulator and were periodically interrupted with thought probes to assess whether they were thinking about the game or about something else. After playing, we retrospectively assessed dark flow and positive affect during play.

Our key results were that mindfulness problems outside of the gambling context were positively correlated with depression, problem gambling status, and most importantly, dark flow within the gambling context. Dark flow was positively correlated with positive affect during play and the combination of dark flow and depression predicted gambling problems. The picture that emerges is that individuals with mindfulness problems in everyday life find their attention locked in by slot machines inducing dark flow, which in turn leads to a state of positive affect. For depressed players especially, this state may be enjoyable because it provides an escape from the negative mentation linked to depression that characterizes the everyday lives of these troubled players. Article details and access conditions

Citation: Dixon, M. J., Gutierrez, J., Stange, M., Larche, C. J., Graydon, C., Vintan, S., Kruger, T. B. (2019). Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Jan 07, no pagination specified. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


Gambling-related cognitive distortions mediate the relationship between depression and disordered gambling severity [subscription access article]

Abstract: Background and objectives
Symptoms of depression are highly prevalent among individuals with gambling disorder, and severity of depression is associated with severity of gambling problem. Yet, little is known about the psychological mechanisms by which symptoms of depression lead to greater gambling severity. In this study, we tested whether cognitive distortions represent one such mechanism, as cognitive distortions are key characteristics in both depression and gambling disorder and have been shown to be associated with gambling severity.

• Depression symptoms predict cognitive distortions and gambling severity
• Controlling for depression, cognitive distortions predict greater gambling severity
• Cognitive distortions mediate the effect of depression on gambling severity

Article details and access conditions

Magdalen G. Schluter, Hyoun S. Kim, Julia C. Poole, David C. Hodgins, Daniel S. McGrath, Keith S. Dobson, Hermano Taveres. (2019). Gambling-related cognitive distortions mediate the relationship between depression and disordered gambling severity. Addictive Behaviors, 90, 318-323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.11.038.

Can a brief telephone intervention for problem gambling help to reduce co-existing depression? A three-year prospective study in New Zealand [subscription access article]

Ranta, J., Bellringer, M., Garrett, N. et al. (2018). Journal of Gambling Studies. Retrieved from link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10899-018-9783-x

Abstract: Problematic gambling and depression commonly co-exist, with limited research indicating that depression and/or psychological distress appear to reduce with brief interventions for problem gambling. The present study was designed to examine the effect, over 36 months, of a brief problem gambling intervention on depression in a population of people seeking help for gambling issues. One-hundred and thirty-one participants were recruited from adult (18+ years) gambler callers to the New Zealand national gambling helpline. They received a manualised version of the helpline’s brief intervention, and were assessed at baseline, 12 and 36 months. Overall, problem gambling severity reduced from a score of 17 (using the Problem Gambling Severity Index) at baseline to a score of 7.5 at 36 months. The percentage of participants with depression reduced from 74% at baseline to 41% at 36 months. For both problem gambling and depression, the greatest reduction was in the first 12 months. Multiple logistic regression analyses at baseline showed an association between problem gambling and depression. Repeated measures logistic regression indicated that reduced problem gambling severity reduced depression and that there was no independent time effect taking place (i.e. the decreased depression was not due to natural recovery). Thus a single brief telephone intervention for problem gambling substantially reduced the prevalence of depression. This has clinical and public health implications with a benefit being that people with depression and co-existing gambling problems may not necessarily need additional treatment for depression if they receive treatment for their gambling issues. View article details, references and access options

The impact of gambling on depression: New evidence from England and Scotland

By Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Farrell, L.

Abstract: Easy access to gambling outlets and the rise in the number of online gambling sites have led to a substantial increase in the prevalence of gambling among the British population. This increased prevalence is becoming a major problem due to the associated social and economic costs. This study investigates the effects of gambling on depression, using new data on England and Scotland, in a population-based sample. Using both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) scales of gambling addiction, we find evidence of a positive association between gambling behaviour and depression. Further, disaggregating the effects by gambling venue, our results suggest that online gambling poses a significant mental health risk compared to gambling in venues or outlets. Thus, we show that the high prevalence of gambling in Britain is associated with emotional and mental health costs.

Awaworyi Churchill, S., & Farrell, L. (2017). The impact of gambling on depression: New evidence from England and Scotland. Economic Modelling. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econmod.2017.08.021


Adolescent Gaming and Gambling in Relation to Negative Social Consequences and Health

Full text available

The aims of the thesis were to study relationships between the effects of online gaming and gambling and negative social consequences and ill health among adolescents and to determine whether gaming and gambling activities occur together.The papers in this thesis used epidemiological methods to obtain self-report information from Swedish adolescents aged 13–18 years. Time spent in online gaming was associated with negative social consequences, and this relationship was explained by online gaming motives. Gaming for fun and social motives was associated with a reduced risk of negative social consequences, whereas gaming to escape problems, gain status, or meet demands from others was associated with an increased risk…

Source: Hellström, C. (2015). Adolescent Gaming and Gambling in Relation to Negative Social Consequences and Health. Retrieved from http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:849759