Symptoms of Gambling Disorder

Gambling involves risking money or something of value on an uncertain outcome, such as a race, game of chance, or the lottery. The prize can range from a small amount to a life-changing sum. Gambling is a common activity for people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. It can be a fun pastime or an addictive habit. If you are concerned that your gambling is out of control, seek help.

While gambling can be a great way to relax, it is important to remember that all forms of gambling are inherently risky and carry the possibility of losing money. Some people can develop an addiction to gambling, which is a serious psychological disorder that affects their daily functioning and causes them significant distress. Symptoms of gambling disorder may include:

Several criteria have been developed by mental health professionals to identify problem gamblers. These criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychological problems. The newest version of the DSM includes Gambling Disorder alongside other behavioral addictions, such as drug and alcohol use disorders. The criteria for Gambling Disorder are:

Preoccupation with gambling (e.g., persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences or fantasizing about winning). A tendency to hide how much one is gambling from others. Continuing to gamble even when one has lost considerable amounts of money. Attempting to win back previous losses (also known as “chasing”). Using a credit card to fund gambling activities or to cover up other debts. Experiencing frequent anxiety or depression as a result of gambling.

While there are no medications specifically designed to treat gambling disorders, counseling and self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can be beneficial. Counseling can help individuals understand their gambling behaviors and think about how they affect themselves and their families. Self-help groups can provide a support network and teach coping skills. In addition, physical activity has been shown to be helpful for many people with gambling disorders. It is also important to seek treatment for any underlying mood conditions that may be contributing to the gambling behavior. Depression, stress, and substance abuse can all trigger or make gambling disorders worse. Managing these mood disorders can help a person stop gambling. Lastly, a person who has a gambling disorder should be sure to check out the Responsible Gambling Council for tips on safer and healthier gambling practices. This organization works to promote better standards for gambling throughout Canada and around the world. They can be contacted by calling 1-800-662-HELP or visiting their website. The organization’s slogan is “Lower your risks, raise your returns.” The RGC also provides resources for students and educators.