Gambling disorder is a behavioral addiction that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or race. It’s not about winning or losing money. Gambling disorder is a psychological problem that causes compulsive gambling, which turns into an all-consuming behavior.
There are major types of gambling disorders. These include;
Pathological gambling is characterized by an individual’s continued participation in gambling despite the potential for adverse consequences. Pathological gamblers often gamble to relieve their anxiety, although this relief is short-lived because they continue to gamble in order to feel better. Pathological gamblers may also experience cravings for more gambling, an intense desire to gamble, and preoccupation with the object of their addiction.
Pathological gambling is not considered a disorder in itself, but rather a symptom of another condition called impulse control disorder. This condition is defined as an inability to resist engaging in behaviors that have a high potential for harm and that are difficult to give up once started. Impulse control disorders can be broken down into two types of conditions: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and impulse-control disorder with or without hoarding (ICD-H).
Pathological gambling may be associated with other mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. The co-occurrence of these conditions makes it more likely that someone will display symptoms of pathological gambling if they also experience symptoms of these other mental health problems.
Problem gambling is the most common type of gambling disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association. It’s characterized by a preoccupation with gambling that interferes with a person’s everyday life. The severity of this condition ranges from mild to severe and can include:
- A sudden intensification in a person’s desire to gamble, leading him or her to gamble more than usual
- Spending a lot of time thinking about how much money he or she can make gambling, even when it’s not possible to do so
- The use of alcohol or drugs in order to have fun while gambling
Problem gambling causes a person to experience problems in at least two of the following areas:
Gambling behaviors: The person engages in gambling activities such as the use of credit cards or electronic payment devices to place bets, frequenting casinos or other gaming locations, or preparing for and participating in events such as sweepstakes or lotteries.
Gambling-related consequences: The person is unable to control their gambling urges, resulting in significant problems caused by gambling such as relationship problems.
Negative impact on life areas (e.g., education, work, finances): The person’s functioning is significantly impaired because of gambling.
Compulsive gambling is the most common form of gambling disorder and is characterized by a person’s inability to stop gambling once they start. This can be due to physical dependence, which causes the brain to crave the rush that comes from placing bets and winning money. In some cases, people may even feel the urge to gamble when they are not playing at all.
Gambling disorder is not a mental illness in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying mental health condition. It is a condition that can affect people at any age, including children and teenagers. If you have this condition, it is advisable to seek treatment before things escalate.