What is Gambling?

Gambling is putting something of value on an uncertain event. This includes wagers on games of chance, races and other events whose results may be determined by luck or accident. The American Psychiatric Association defines gambling as “the betting or staking of something of value, upon an uncertain outcome with the consciousness of risk and hope of gain.” In its latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), published this past May, the APA moved pathological gambling to the addictions chapter along with kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).

Gambling can be very addictive. It stimulates the brain’s reward center and triggers a chemical reaction that mimics the pleasure of drug use. The brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, when winning and even when losing. Those with a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behavior or impulsivity are especially at risk for gambling problems.

Problems with gambling are more common than you might think. Studies show that two million people in the United States have a gambling disorder, which can interfere with daily life and cause serious financial problems. In addition, people with a gambling disorder are more likely to have depression and anxiety, which can both cause gambling problems and make them worse.

Many factors can contribute to a gambling disorder, including family history and trauma. In addition, a person’s culture can influence how they view gambling activity and what constitutes a problem. It is also important to note that a gambling disorder can start in adolescence or later in life. In fact, some people start gambling at a very young age and continue through adulthood without any apparent symptoms.

It can be difficult to recognize a gambling disorder in yourself or in a loved one. In addition, the social stigma attached to the diagnosis can make it harder for someone to seek help.

There are several types of treatment for gambling disorders. Some of these treatments include psychotherapy and medication. Medications are used to treat mood disorders that can trigger or make gambling problems worse. Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals identify unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Several types of psychotherapy can be helpful for those with a gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy.

The best way to deal with a gambling problem is to seek help. Talk to a doctor or therapist who specializes in addictions. A therapist can help you identify the root causes of your gambling problem and find solutions that will work for you. In the meantime, try to cut off any access to money that you might be using for gambling. This might mean getting rid of credit cards, letting someone else manage your finances or closing online betting accounts. In addition, a therapist can help you practice coping skills when the urge to gamble arises, such as postponing the action for a few minutes or an hour and distracting yourself with another activity.