Gambling is the putting of something of value, including money, on an uncertain outcome based on skill and chance, such as a game of cards, sports event, or lottery. The activity may be legal or illegal, and can involve a high risk of losing money. It can also cause severe financial and emotional problems. People who have a gambling problem may become depressed, anxious or have suicidal thoughts. If you are experiencing these symptoms, speak to a healthcare professional or a specialist service.
Research has shown that repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty produces changes in the brain similar to those produced by addictive drugs. These changes increase a person’s reward pathways and make them hypersensitive, making it harder to resist the urge to gamble. Research also suggests that people with mental health issues are more likely to gamble to escape or distract themselves from feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression.
There are a number of different treatments for gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychotherapy and support groups. These treatments can help people to change their harmful thought patterns and behaviours. They can also help people to manage their stress and find healthy ways to relax.
It can take a lot of strength and courage for someone with a gambling problem to admit they have a problem. Especially if they have lost money and strained or broken relationships as a result of their addiction. It’s important to seek treatment early, before the problem gets worse.