Symptoms of Gambling Disorder

Gambling involves placing something of value at risk on the outcome of an event determined at least in part by chance. It includes games such as lotteries, cards, dice, horse races, sports events, and even online gaming. Although many people enjoy gambling, some become addicted to it and develop a condition known as gambling disorder. It can affect both adults and adolescents. It is more common in men than women. It also tends to run in families.

Most people have gambled at one time or another, but only a small percentage of them develop a problem. People with a gambling disorder experience an ongoing pattern of problem gambling that interferes with their life in significant ways. It is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a pathological disorder.

It’s important to recognize the symptoms of gambling disorder and seek help when needed. The symptoms include:

A person who has a gambling disorder may hide or deny their problem and be secretive about their behavior. They might lie to friends, family members, and professionals about how much money they’re spending on gambling. They might also try to conceal their gambling activities or cheat to cover up their losses. They might even rely on others to fund or replace their lost money. They might continue to gamble despite it negatively impacting their work, education, or personal relationships.

People who have a gambling disorder are more likely to experience depression. In fact, some studies suggest that up to 50% of pathological gamblers have a history of depression. The reason for this connection is not clear, but it could be that gambling activates the reward center of the brain and induces pleasurable feelings. Others have suggested that it is because depressed people may have a harder time controlling their impulses.

Gambling can lead to serious financial problems, including a loss of income, a loss of assets, and credit-related issues. In some cases, the problems are so severe that a person might lose their home or other personal possessions. It can also lead to substance use disorders.

Symptoms of gambling disorder can be treated through psychotherapy and other treatments. Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that helps people identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It can be done individually or in groups and is led by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker. Some types of psychotherapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.

People with gambling disorders can benefit from support groups. They can join peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also participate in family therapy and other forms of counseling. Some insurance plans cover the cost of these services. Finally, people with gambling disorders can also receive financial management and credit counseling. This can help them regain control of their finances and address any debt that they might have accrued. They can learn better coping skills and develop a stronger support system.