How to Recognise a Gambling Disorder


Gambling involves risking money or anything else of value on an uncertain event with the hope of winning. It may involve playing games such as scratchcards, fruit machines or betting with friends. It is also possible to place bets online or by telephone. Many people find gambling enjoyable and harmless but others develop a problem. The behaviour is known as pathological gambling and is a disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition).

It is possible to recover from a gambling addiction but it can take time and effort. Treatment options include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a combination of talking therapies and mindfulness exercises. It can help you change the way you think about gambling and challenge the beliefs that may be causing problems. It can also be helpful to seek help for any underlying mood disorders that may contribute to the addiction, such as anxiety or depression.

Those who are most likely to develop a gambling addiction are those with low incomes, young people and men. Up to 5% of adolescents and adults who gamble develop a gambling disorder. It is estimated that around a quarter of those who experience adverse consequences from gambling will attempt suicide.

Gambling can be addictive because of the excitement and rush it can produce. It can also lead to thoughts of self-harm and feelings of guilt and shame. In addition, the habit can make it difficult to concentrate or sleep. Ultimately, gambling can be a costly and disruptive pursuit.

The most common form of gambling is betting with real or virtual currency. However, it can also be done with materials that have a perceived value such as marbles or collectible game pieces from games like Magic: The Gathering or Pogs. Many people enjoy the social aspect of gambling, especially when it is undertaken with a group of friends. It can also provide an escape from stressful life events.

Most adults and adolescents in the United States have placed a bet and most do so without experiencing any negative consequences. However, a subset of these individuals develops gambling disorder, which is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (Fifth Edition) as a persistent recurrent pattern of gambling that causes substantial distress or impairment.

In order to be diagnosed with gambling disorder, a person must meet several criteria. These include: a preoccupation with gambling, loss of control, uncontrollable urges to gamble, repeated attempts to cut down or stop, and chasing losses. Often, individuals who develop this condition also have other symptoms such as denial, avoidance, or reckless behavior.

Although research on the cause of gambling disorder is limited, some theories suggest that it is linked to a number of factors including genetics and environmental influences. Other researchers have suggested that gambling is a learned behavior, and that it can be taught to children. Others have found that it is a psychologically maladaptive response to a perceived sense of loss or failure.

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