Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves placing something of value on an event with a chance of winning something else of value. It is considered a psychiatric disorder when it causes substantial distress or impairment in your life. It is usually started in adolescence or young adulthood and it affects men more than women.

Some people are able to control their gambling habits, but others develop a severe addiction. People with a gambling addiction are at risk of losing their job, family and home, as well as experiencing financial hardship, depression and anxiety. The condition may also impact their physical health and personal relationships.

Many reasons cause people to gamble, including the feeling of euphoria linked to the brain’s reward system. It is also an easy way to socialize and spend time with friends. Some people also enjoy the challenge and strategy involved in games like blackjack or poker. In addition, it can be a good way to relieve stress.

Although it’s legal in most states, gambling is still a dangerous activity. People who are addicted to gambling are at high risk of developing other behavioral disorders, such as alcohol and substance abuse, as well as mental illnesses like depression or anxiety. They may also experience suicidal thoughts and attempts. In addition, they are at risk of financial ruin, a loss of self-respect and even criminal involvement.

According to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), pathological gambling is now classified as a behavioral addiction. This change reflects the fact that gambling has become more prevalent and accessible than ever, especially with the advent of online gaming. The APA is now treating it as a behavioral addiction alongside other impulse-control disorders such as kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).

People who are prone to gambling are often predisposed to the disorder due to their genetics and childhood experiences. There is also evidence of a link between impulsivity and a lack of ability to weigh risk against reward in the brain. Moreover, studies on identical twins have shown that some people have a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity.

Some of the most effective treatments for gambling disorders include psychotherapy, group therapy and family therapy. During psychotherapy, a mental health professional can help you identify the underlying cause of your problem and teach you strategies to cope with your addictive behaviors. There are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of gambling disorders, but psychotherapy can help you to learn new coping skills and improve your quality of life. Family therapy can also help you reestablish a healthy home environment and make your relationship with your spouse or children better. Also, consider joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. This can provide you with a strong support network and the encouragement needed to overcome your addiction. You can find a Gamblers Anonymous near you by searching online. There are also several specialized programs for people with gambling disorders, including residential treatment and intensive outpatient programs.