Changes in the brain of an individual who gambles can affect their mental health and their ability to derive pleasure from everyday life.
The ‘Normal baseline’ is the natural mood that can shift slightly day to day. With addiction, the natural baseline changes.
When an individual gambles, their brain gets a flood of dopamine from the excitement they feel. The more that the individual gambles, the more they flood their brain with dopamine. This makes the individual feel great!
As gambling progresses, the brain will tell itself to stop producing dopamine for regular experiences, including gambling. When less dopamine is produced in the brain, the individual’s baseline drops. This can contribute to feelings of depression and shame as a result of their gambling.
Getting pleasure from natural rewards (relationships, school, achievements) becomes difficult.
Gambling no longer brings as much excitement, but also a person’s baseline is lower even when they’re not gambling.
Experiencing pleasure in everyday life is DIFFICULT for those experiencing a gambling problem because the brain is still focused on gambling cues and doesn’t respond well to natural rewards from family, friends, relationships, school or work.