Anxiety, gambling activity, and neurocognition: A dimensional approach to a non-treatment-seeking sample

Abstract

Background and aims
Previous analyses have highlighted significant associations between gambling disorder (GD)/subsyndromal GD and increased rates of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders relative to the general population. However, less is known about how anxiety symptoms influence the clinical presentation of gambling problems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between anxiety symptoms, gambling activity, and neurocognition across the spectrum of gambling behavior.

Methods
The sample consisted of 143 non-treatment-seeking young adults (aged 18–29 years), in which 63 individuals (44.1%) were classified as recreational gamblers, 47 (32.9%) as having subsyndromal GD, and 33 (23.1%) met criteria for GD.

Results
The main findings were: (a) there was a positive correlation between anxiety severity and gambling severity measured by the number of DSM-5 GD criteria met; (b) there was a positive correlation between anxiety severity and attentional impulsiveness; (c) subjects with suicidality presented higher levels of anxiety; and (d) the severity of anxiety symptoms was negatively correlated with the quality of life.

Discussion and conclusions
This study suggests that anxiety may be associated with relevant clinical variables in the broad spectrum of gambling activity. Therefore, proper management of anxiety symptoms might improve the clinical presentation of gamblers in different areas.

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