What Is Gambling Disorder?

Gambling is an activity in which participants risk something of value (usually money) in the hope of winning a larger prize. It can take many forms, from buying a Lotto ticket to placing a bet on a horse race or game of dice. The majority of gambling is done for entertainment, and some people even make a living from it. However, it can also be dangerous and lead to serious consequences for some people.

Symptoms of gambling disorder include: a compulsion to gamble despite negative effects; lying to family members, therapists, or employers to conceal the extent of involvement in gambling; stealing money or other assets to fund gambling activities; and frequent or intense mood swings. People with severe gambling addictions may require inpatient or residential treatment.

A defining characteristic of gambling disorders is the co-occurrence of other harmful behaviours, such as substance abuse or depression. In addition, people with gambling problems often exhibit a number of cognitive and motivational biases that distort their perception of odds.

Psychiatrists who specialize in the treatment of gambling addiction have been using a new definition of pathological gambling since 2012. This approach recognizes that gambling is a problem only when it negatively affects one’s physical or psychological health, family and work life, finances, or relationships. It also distinguishes gambling problems from mood disorders such as depression or stress, which can both trigger and be exacerbated by gambling. This allows researchers to identify the factors that influence and exacerbate gambling behavior.