Recognizing and Treating Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a recreational activity in which you stake something of value (money or other possessions) on an event that is determined at least partly by chance and that may yield a prize. You can find gambling opportunities in casinos, racetracks, on television and the Internet, and even at work or on school activities. It is a worldwide activity and can be legal or illegal.

Aside from the obvious financial risks, many gamblers experience emotional and social problems, too. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of gambling disorder so you can seek help and treatment. In addition, there are several types of psychotherapy that can help you overcome problem gambling and restore balance to your life.

Identifying and treating gambling disorder requires addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes of the problem. Symptoms include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and an inability to control impulses. Biological factors, such as a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity, can also contribute to gambling problems. Research shows that certain areas of the brain associated with reward and decision-making are active during gambling, which can affect how you process rewards and risk information.

The most difficult part of overcoming gambling disorder is admitting that you have a problem. This can be especially hard if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling. It can also be difficult to recognize gambling disorders in loved ones, since many people believe that it is just a harmless pastime.

Behavioral therapy is the main form of treatment for gambling disorder and can be delivered in a variety of ways. Individual therapy, group therapy and family psychotherapy are all available. Individual psychotherapy can teach you techniques for changing unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It can also provide a safe space to discuss your problems with a mental health professional. Depending on your needs, your therapist may use cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy or a combination of these approaches. Family psychotherapy can help you regain trust with your loved one and create a more stable home environment. In addition, family therapy can be helpful in educating your loved ones about gambling disorder and creating healthy boundaries around spending money.