Identifying Gambling Disorders


Whether you are buying a lotto ticket, betting on sports events or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value on an uncertain event for a potential reward. It is a fun and social activity for many people. However, for some it becomes an addictive habit. Problem gambling can cause serious financial problems, personal distress, and damage relationships. It is important to identify if you are suffering from a gambling disorder and seek treatment.

Gambling is wagering money or other valuables on an event with an uncertain outcome, where skill and strategy are discounted. It is generally considered to include activities like poker, horse racing, lottery, casino games, sports wagering, and online gambling.

There are both positive and negative effects of gambling, but the negative ones mostly come from when it becomes an addiction. Some benefits of gambling include socializing, mental development and skill improvement. However, it is essential to note that gambling should only be done in moderation. When it is not, it can lead to serious consequences like debts, credit card debt, and even mental health disorders.

One of the main factors that can make someone vulnerable to gambling is a mood disorder. It has been shown that around 50% of pathological gamblers have a mood disorder, which may be either depression or anxiety. The relationship between these two conditions is bidirectional, meaning that depression or anxiety can trigger gambling problems and vice versa.

People with mood disorders may also experience increased urges to gamble and have difficulty controlling their behavior. A combination of factors can contribute to this, including genetics, childhood experiences, environmental influences and life events. Moreover, some medications can trigger or worsen gambling problems.

Another important factor is the availability and accessibility of treatment options. Various treatments are available to help people with gambling problems, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family-based interventions. There are also a number of self-help programs that are designed to help individuals overcome their addiction.

Some of the most effective ways to deal with gambling problems are to strengthen your support network, set boundaries, and take control of your finances. For instance, you can start by asking friends and family for help, or you could join a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. This is a 12-step recovery program that follows the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous. The key is to find a sponsor, who will be a former gambler who has experience remaining free from gambling.

It is also important to remember that gambling is not a profitable venture. If you are losing a lot of money, it is time to stop. If you have trouble stopping, it is a good idea to seek help from a specialist who can guide and support you on your journey. You can also use a telehealth service like BetterHelp to get connected with an experienced, licensed and vetted therapist within 48 hours. You can then schedule a session to discuss your struggles with a therapist, and find the right solution for you.