Gambling Disorder

Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, usually money, on an event that involves chance and the hope of a prize win. It is a widespread activity and occurs in many different places, including casinos, racetracks, church halls, sporting events and on the Internet. While most people gamble for fun, some become seriously involved and experience negative personal and family consequences. Problem gambling is a mental health disorder that can be difficult to recognize and treat.

Like other substance use disorders (SUDs), gambling disorder has a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. It is believed that the prevalence of PG increases with the severity, chronicity, and duration of involvement in gambling. In addition, PG often co-occurs with other disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Moreover, it is a major risk factor for suicide.

In general, a person who has a gambling disorder is preoccupied with gambling and cannot control their behavior, despite the negative consequences it has on their life. They often lie to their friends and family about how much they gamble and may even engage in illegal activities to finance it, such as forgery, embezzlement, theft, and fraud. Moreover, they have difficulty recognizing the seriousness of their gambling problems and tend to minimize or deny them.

Gambling disorders are characterized by several psychological features, such as impaired judgment, distortions in cognition and perception, and moral turpitude. In addition, the risk of committing suicide is high for those with a gambling disorder. Hence, it is essential for family members to take precautions by setting boundaries in managing their money, taking over the family finances, and reviewing bank and credit card statements.

It is important to note that most gamblers do not have a gambling disorder and do not experience negative consequences. However, a small percentage of people develop serious gambling problems that have significant negative personal, social, and family consequences. The underlying reasons for these problems vary, and include recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, cognitive distortions, and mental illness.

Although a variety of psychological features are associated with gambling disorder, the most recognized is compulsive gambling. The symptoms of compulsive gambling include a preoccupation with gambling, a tolerance to losing large amounts of money, a tendency to increase stakes or frequency of play, and a sense of denial.

The first step in overcoming a gambling disorder is admitting that there is a problem. It is an extremely difficult step, especially if the problem has resulted in financial distress and strained or broken relationships. But it is essential to seek help because many others have overcome gambling addictions and rebuilt their lives. If you are struggling with a gambling disorder, BetterHelp can help. Its online assessment matches you with a licensed, accredited therapist in as little as 48 hours. Start your journey to recovery today! – This article was originally published on May 17, 2016. It has been updated. 2015 The Psych Central Research Team.