Gambling Disorders

Most people have placed a bet of one kind or another at some point in their lives. For many, this happens without any major consequences, but a subset of those who gamble develop gambling disorder, which the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines as a pattern of betting that causes significant distress or impairment. For some, the underlying mood disorders that often trigger or worsen gambling problems are depression, stress, or substance abuse. It is important to seek treatment for these issues, even when a person stops gambling.

Those who have a problem with gambling often do not admit it. They may lie to family and friends, or hide the fact that they are gambling. They may also increase their stakes in a desperate attempt to win back lost money. Ultimately, their relationships with family and friends may suffer because of their behavior. Moreover, the financial burden of gambling can be heavy and exacerbate existing mood disorders.

Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event with the intent to win something else of value, where instances of strategy are discounted. The word ‘gambling’ is derived from the Latin verb ‘to wager’ and it has several definitions in English. Gambling is legal in most jurisdictions and includes a wide range of activities, from playing cards for fun to placing a bet on a horse race. However, it does not include bona fide business transactions or contracts valid under the law, including purchases and sales of securities or commodities, contracts of insurance, guaranties and indemnity and life, health and accident insurance.

There are four main reasons that people gamble, which can help to explain how it becomes addictive and why it’s hard to quit. Some people gamble for social reasons, such as with friends or family in a home setting. Others play games for entertainment, such as card games or board games like poker, chess or bridge, and sometimes they even place bets on video or online sports games.

Other people are compelled to gamble because they want to win money, and it’s often the case that when they lose, they feel they have been cheated and try to make it up by increasing their bets in a desperate attempt to get back what they have lost. The most serious form of gambling, though, is pathological gambling.

For those who struggle with gambling, there are effective treatments available, but it can be difficult to accept that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to your addiction, especially when it has cost you a lot of money or has strained your relationship with someone close to you. If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, talk to a therapist at BetterHelp today. You can be matched with a licensed, accredited therapist in as little as 48 hours. Get started by taking our assessment and getting a free introductory session.