Gambling Disorders

Gambling is a form of risk taking in which people wager something of value on the outcome of a game of chance. It’s a popular pastime, and people gamble on sports, games of chance, cards, the lottery, online gambling and more. People also gamble with things of value other than money, such as marbles, Pogs or collectible trading card pieces in games like Magic: The Gathering. While gambling is an activity with some social stigma, many people do it for fun and as a way to pass time.

People with gambling disorders may become preoccupied with betting or spending money and neglect other aspects of their lives. They may hide their behavior, spend more money than they have and borrow to support their habits. Some may even resort to theft or fraud. In addition, compulsive gambling can trigger mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.

A person’s decision to gamble can be influenced by factors such as stress, family history and personality. A person who feels like they are losing control over their gambling can seek treatment to help them regain control. Some treatment options include individual and group therapy, self-help support groups, residential programs, and inpatient care. There are also medications available to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.

Some of the best ways to avoid problem gambling are to make sure that you only gamble with money you can afford to lose and to set a budget before you start playing. You should also be aware that the house always has an edge and it’s important to know when you have lost enough. Also, it’s a good idea to never chase your losses and think that you will win back the money you have lost. This is called the “gambler’s fallacy” and it can lead to even more gambling.

Developing healthy coping strategies for managing stressful situations is also helpful. You can try meditation, yoga or deep breathing to relax your mind. In addition, you can reach out for support from friends and family. Consider joining a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alternatively, you can contact your local mental health services or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Although there are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorder, several types of psychotherapy can help. Psychotherapy is a broad term that encompasses many different treatments that are designed to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Some treatment methods include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. In addition, some treatment facilities offer inpatient and residential programs for those with severe gambling addictions who cannot stop their behaviors without round-the-clock support.