Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the chance of winning money or other prizes. It can involve betting on sports, horse racing or even lottery games. It can also include online poker, video games with gambling elements and the use of collectible game pieces (such as marbles or Magic: The Gathering trading cards) as stakes.
There are different reasons why people gamble, but the most common is to experience a temporary feeling of euphoria. This is because gambling activates the brain’s reward system. People also gamble to socialize with friends and take their mind off worries.
Most people enjoy gambling in moderation, but for some it can become a serious problem. It is estimated that about two million Americans have a gambling disorder, and for many of them the problem interferes with their lives. Problem gambling is more common among men than women, and it tends to run in families. Some risk factors are traumatic events, poverty and mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
The DSM-5 classifies pathological gambling as a behavioral addiction, similar to substance-related disorders. This change reflects the psychiatric community’s recognition that gambling disorders are biologically based and share many features with other behavioral addictions, such as drug abuse and alcoholism.
While the risk of developing a gambling disorder is fairly high, there are ways to reduce your chances. The first step is recognizing that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost a lot of money or have strained relationships because of your gambling habits.
Once you recognize that you have a problem, it is important to seek treatment. There are several types of therapy that can help you manage your gambling behaviors and address underlying issues. Counseling may involve family or group therapy and can be conducted face-to-face, over the phone or through an online therapist directory. It is important to find a counselor who has experience treating gambling disorders.
Medications are not currently available to treat gambling disorder, but psychotherapy can be very effective. It can help you learn how to handle stress, find other activities that give you a sense of accomplishment and address any mental health problems that may be contributing to your gambling behavior.
There are no medications approved to treat gambling disorders, but there are some that can help with co-occurring conditions. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that can be used to help you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It is usually conducted with a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. Get matched with an experienced therapist today.