Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which someone stakes something valuable (such as money or other goods) on the chance of winning something else of value. It can be done in a variety of ways, including placing a bet on a football match or buying a scratchcard. There are many different reasons why people gamble, from the desire to win a large sum of money to the social rewards of playing games with friends. But gambling can also have serious consequences, including affecting health and relationships and leading to financial hardship.
In some cases, the urge to gamble can become so strong that it becomes a compulsive behavior, causing individuals to lose control and stop meeting their obligations. This is called pathological gambling and is considered a psychiatric disorder. People with this problem may have a history of problems related to gambling, or they may have symptoms that are so severe that they qualify for a diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Some people struggle to overcome an addiction to gambling, especially if it has led to depression, stress, substance abuse, or other mood disorders. It is important to seek help for these conditions before trying to quit gambling. Other underlying issues that can make people turn to gambling include family, work or school pressures, and feelings of boredom or anxiety.
The most difficult step in breaking the habit of gambling is admitting that you have a problem. This can be particularly hard if you have lost a lot of money or strained your relationships as a result of your gambling habits. However, there are many things you can do to try and overcome your addiction, from seeking therapy to setting limits on how much you can spend on gambling.
The most common types of psychological therapy for gambling disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand how your thoughts and emotions influence your behaviors, and teaches you to replace unhealthy patterns with healthy ones. Motivational interviewing is a type of psychotherapy that empowers you to identify your barriers to change and resolve them in order to move forward with healthy behaviors. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve any medications to treat gambling disorder, but there are several other treatments available. For example, you can use a service like BetterHelp to get matched with a therapist who specializes in gambling disorder and other mood disorders. This way, you can get the treatment you need without waiting for your insurance to kick in.