Gambling involves risking something of value (money or possessions) on an event whose outcome is determined at least partly by chance. It is a popular pastime, but it can also be addictive. People gamble for many reasons, including to socialise, win money or escape worries and stress. However, if you’re regularly betting more than you can afford to lose or you’re borrowing money to fund your gambling habit, it may be time to seek help.
While most adults and adolescents have placed some type of bet, a subset develops gambling disorder. Gambling disorder is a mental health problem that can cause severe distress or impairment. It is a subset of behavioral addictions and is included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which psychiatrists and other treatment care professionals use to diagnose psychological problems.
To identify a gambling disorder, mental health professionals use criteria that describe symptoms of the condition. These criteria are based on research, clinical experience, and the perspectives of those who study the disorder. These include: the development of gambling habits, losses of control and impulse control, the need to gamble in order to feel excited, and preoccupation with gambling.
In addition to these criteria, researchers also look at the underlying causes of pathological gambling. This can involve studying the behavior of a group of individuals over time to better understand how their gambling patterns change and why they are maintained. They may use longitudinal data, such as questionnaires and interviews that ask a group of people to answer questions at various times in their lives, to examine how these changes over time affect the way they gamble.
Several different types of therapy are used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and family therapy. These therapies can be used alone or in combination, depending on the needs of each person. It’s important to find a therapist who has experience treating gambling disorders, as there are unique challenges with this type of addiction.
The first step in seeking treatment for a gambling disorder is admitting that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if your gambling has cost you money and strained or broken relationships. It’s also important to have a strong support network, which you can reach out to for guidance and advice. A support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, can be a helpful resource in the battle to overcome your addiction.