Understanding Gambling Disorders


Gambling is a form of chance-based game in which people risk something of value, such as money or goods, in the hope of winning more than they have lost. It can involve activities like lotteries, fruit machines, and scratchcards. It can also be more complex games where skill is involved – for example, card games and horse racing. Some people enjoy gambling for fun, but others may be affected by compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling, sometimes known as a gambling disorder, is an addictive behavior that can take over someone’s life. It can cause health, work and relationships to suffer. It can lead to depression, debt and even suicide.

People gamble for a number of reasons, including the thrill of winning, socialising and escaping from worries or stress. However, if it is out of control, it can have serious consequences for your life and mental health. If you are worried about your own gambling or that of someone close to you, there is help available. You can seek treatment, join a support group or try self-help tips.

There are a number of ways to get help for a gambling problem, including counselling, family therapy, and medication. The most effective treatment for pathological gambling is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT helps people to change the way they think about betting. For example, it can teach them to stop assuming that they are more likely to win than they actually are or that certain rituals will bring luck. It can also help them to change the ways they behave when they are thinking about betting.

The understanding of gambling disorders has changed in recent years. It was once thought that people who had problems with gambling had a character weakness, but it is now believed that they have psychological problems. These are similar to those experienced by alcoholics and drug abusers. The changes have been reflected in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Symptoms of problem gambling include lying about the extent of involvement with gambling, hiding spending habits, and making false statements to conceal the truth. A person with problem gambling may be unable to stop gambling, even when they have suffered significant losses or jeopardized their personal or financial well-being. They often feel compelled to return to gambling in order to get back the money they have lost. They may be unable to control their gambling behavior, and they often have feelings of guilt or shame about it.

The first step towards recovery is admitting that you have a problem. You can do this by talking to a trusted friend or family member, or attending a local support group for people with gambling problems, such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also seek help from your GP or a psychiatrist. Many people find that a combination of strategies works best for them. Counselling can help you understand your gambling behavior, think about how it affects you and your relationships, and consider options for change. You can also ask your GP to refer you for specialist treatment for depression or anxiety, which can both trigger and be made worse by compulsive gambling.