Investigating the relationship between pathological gambling and co-occuring anxiety disorders:

A behavioral genetic and epidemiological study

Justine Giddens

Supervisor: Dr Marc Potenza

Course: MSc in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology 

Pathological gambling (PG) and anxiety disorders (AD) frequently co-occur. However, previous studies have not investigated the relative influence of AD on the co-occurrence of subsyndromal and syndromal PG and psychopathologies, as well as their genetic and environmental association.

The current study used epidemiological and behavioral genetic methodology to investigate these relationships. The epidemiological study (N=43,093) indicated significant anxiety-by-gambling-group interactions for psychopathologies, suggesting a stronger relationship between gambling severity and psychopathology in participants with AD versus those without AD.

The behavioral genetics study demonstrated (N=7,869) a genetic co-occurrence with PG and generalized anxiety disorder, and a genetic and environmental relationship with PG and panic disorder. Further research should investigate factors contributing to the manifestation and co-occurrence of PG and AD.


Giddens, J. L., Xian, H., Scherrer, J. F., Eisen, S. A., & Potenza, M. N. (2011). Shared genetic contributions to anxiety disorders and pathological gambling in a male population. Journal of Affective Disorders, 132, 406-412.