Gambling is an activity where individuals wager something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. This can include games of chance, such as slot machines and roulette, or sports betting, such as horse racing and football. It also involves playing card games, such as poker and blackjack, which require skill. Individuals who develop a problem with gambling can experience psychological, personal, family and professional consequences that may require treatment.
The risk of gambling addiction is greater for people with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, a condition that causes episodes of upbeat and well-rested highs (mania) and low, depressed lows (melancholy). A genetic predisposition and past trauma also contribute to the development of a gambling disorder. It’s important to seek help if you or someone you know has a gambling disorder, as the symptoms can be severe and life-threatening.
A gambling disorder can affect a person’s ability to work, maintain relationships and care for themselves. It can also lead to health problems, including heart disease and depression. It is a treatable disorder that requires support from professionals and friends.
Symptoms of gambling addiction include lying to family members, hiding spending habits and avoiding friends who gamble. People who have a gambling addiction also become argumentative and angry when confronted about their behaviors. They often feel like they can’t trust others or that they are bringing them down. This can create a toxic environment for everyone involved.
Some symptoms of gambling addiction are downplaying or denying that there’s a problem, relying on others to fund or replace losses and continuing to gamble even when it negatively impacts your finances, work, education and relationships. It’s also common for a person who has a gambling disorder to develop a sense of entitlement, believing that they deserve something even when it’s illogical or risky.
Several types of psychotherapy can be used to help someone with a gambling disorder. These treatments involve one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional. During the session, a therapist can identify unhealthy emotions and thoughts, and teach you healthy ways to cope with stress. They can also teach you techniques to replace negative activities with healthy ones, such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications to treat a gambling disorder, the use of psychotherapy can be very effective in helping people break free from harmful habits. Other options for treating a gambling disorder include social support groups and a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs provide guidance and support from other gamblers who have successfully overcome the addiction. They can also help you set money and time limits and learn new coping skills. They can also help you address other mental health conditions that may be contributing to your problem.