Gambling involves betting money or something else of value on a game of chance, such as a lottery or a casino game. It also includes activities such as sports betting that are not casinos, and video games with gambling elements for adults and children. Most people who gamble do so without problems, but a small percentage develop pathological gambling (also known as compulsive or disordered gambling), a mental health condition described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) as a persistent, recurrent pattern of behavior that causes significant distress or impairment.
Psychiatric research shows that people who have gambling disorders are more likely to have other psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression or substance use disorders, and that they may be at greater risk of suicide. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, but counseling can help people understand and think about their gambling behaviors and how they affect themselves and others.
The first step in addressing gambling problems is admitting you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost money or suffered from other consequences of your gambling, such as strained relationships. It can be helpful to talk about your problem with someone you trust, such as a family member or counsellor. It is important to set limits on how much time and money you spend gambling, and to avoid chasing your losses. Never believe the “gambler’s fallacy,” which is the idea that you are due for a big win and will get back everything you have lost.