Gambling Disorder – Warning Signs You May Have a Gambling Problem
Gambling involves betting something of value on an event where the outcome is determined by chance. It can involve sports, poker or board games, or even scratchcards and lottery tickets. The goal is to win money by correctly anticipating the outcome of an event. Profits are earned when the prediction is correct, and losses occur when the prediction is wrong. People with gambling disorder are often unable to control their gambling. This condition may lead to a variety of problems, including depression and anxiety. It can also interfere with personal and professional relationships. It is important to seek treatment for a gambling problem before it gets out of control.
It’s hard to know if you or a loved one has a gambling addiction, as the behavior is often hidden. But there are some warning signs:
Frequently lying to loved ones about your gambling activities. Increasing amounts of time spent on gambling. Borrowing or stealing to fund your gambling. Spending more time on gambling than with your family or friends. Continuing to gamble even after it negatively impacts your finances, work or education.
When you win at a game of chance, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. This is why people like to play gambling games. But the dopamine release isn’t as strong when winning is certain. And chasing losses can make you feel even worse. This is why it’s important to stop gambling when you’re losing money.
In the past, the psychiatric community generally viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. But in a move that reflects new understanding of the biology underlying addictive behaviors, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling to the Addictions chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in recent editions.
Some experts believe that gambling disorders are different from other impulse-control disorders, such as kleptomania and pyromania. They believe they are similar to drug addiction, in that both are characterized by a persistent and recurrent pattern of maladaptive behavior that can cause significant distress or impairment.
There are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat gambling disorders, but there are a number of psychotherapies that can help. Psychotherapy involves talking about your feelings with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. The type of psychotherapy you receive depends on your unique situation and the underlying conditions that cause your gambling disorder.
A big part of overcoming gambling disorder is changing your mindset. Psychotherapy can help you change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to your problem. It can also teach you healthy coping mechanisms and help you develop skills to manage stress in healthier ways. In addition, there are many support groups available, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Having the support of loved ones can also be a huge help in battling this condition.