Pathological Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which you risk something of value (money or other assets) in the hope of winning. It is often associated with casinos and other types of gaming, but can also take place online, for example in games of chance such as online slots. Gambling can be fun and exciting, but it can become a serious problem for some people. People who develop gambling addictions may feel compelled to gamble, even after they have lost all their money. They may try to win back their money by increasing the size of their bets. They may be secretive about their gambling and lie to friends and family about it.

People gamble for many reasons, including the thrill of winning, socialising, and escaping from stress or worries. For some, however, it becomes a problem and can harm their physical health, relationships, performance at work or school, and leave them in serious debt. It can also have a negative impact on their mental health, resulting in depression or suicidal thoughts.

Pathological gambling is an addictive disorder, and like other addictive disorders such as kleptomania, pyromania or trichotillomania (hair pulling), it affects the brain’s reward system. In a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling into the addictions chapter of its diagnostic manual in May 2013. This change reflects new understandings of how addictive disorders work. In addition to therapy, which can teach coping skills and strategies to help manage impulses, some individuals may benefit from marriage, family or career counselling.