Gambling is the act of placing a bet on something that can result in either a gain or loss. People gamble for a variety of reasons, such as the thrill of winning or the socialization they experience with friends and family. However, for some individuals gambling can become a serious problem that interferes with daily functioning and even causes depression and anxiety. Fortunately, help is available for those who have a problem with gambling. This article looks at how gambling can affect your mental health, what signs to look out for, and where to get help.
Some people develop a pathological gambling (PG) disorder, which is characterized by recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that cause significant distress or impairment in various areas of life. PG can be experienced by both adolescents and adults, although it is more common in adolescents and young adults. The DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, now recognizes gambling disorder as a behavioral addiction. It is the only behavioral addiction that the DSM-5 recognizes, and it has features in common with substance use disorders.
Like other addictions, a compulsion to gamble can be hard to break. Many people who have a problem with gambling find it difficult to stop gambling, even when they know it’s damaging their lives. In the case of a severe problem, they may resort to using credit cards or borrowing money to keep betting up, and they might even jeopardize their relationships or jobs in order to continue gambling. The urge to gamble can also cause them to lie to their families or friends about how much they’re spending on gambling.
The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to ancient China, where tiles that appear to have been used for a rudimentary game of chance were discovered in 2,300 B.C. Today, gambling is a huge global industry with many different types of games being played. People can bet on sports events, play online games, place bets in casinos, or buy lottery tickets. Some of these games involve real money, while others don’t – for example, the popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering can be played with small discs and trading cards instead of cash.
Whether it’s the prospect of winning a jackpot or simply the thrill of playing, gambling can send massive surges of dopamine through the brain, which can trigger feelings of euphoria and excitement. However, it’s important to remember that all forms of gambling are inherently risky and you could lose money. If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. A therapist can provide counseling and advice about how to deal with the problem, and there are a variety of other options for treatment, including support groups and self-help tips. It’s also helpful to seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can both trigger gambling problems and make them worse.