What Causes a Gambling Disorder?


Gambling is a popular pastime in many countries and involves wagering on the outcome of events, such as sports games or card games. The most common form of gambling is lotteries, which are operated by state governments and offer a chance to win money or prizes. Other forms of gambling include horse racing, video poker, and slot machines. While some people are able to gamble responsibly, others develop a problem and need help. If you are concerned about a loved one’s gambling, talk to a mental health professional for guidance and support.

Many different things can cause a person to become addicted to gambling, including underlying mental health issues and stress. People who have depression or anxiety may be more likely to have a gambling problem, as can those with an addictive family history. Genetics is also a factor; studies of identical twins suggest that there’s a genetic link to gambling disorder.

In some cases, a gambling disorder can be caused by a medical condition such as fibromyalgia or bipolar disorder. A substance abuse disorder can also contribute to a gambling problem. People who have a gambling disorder often feel compelled to keep playing, even when they’re losing money. They may also hide their gambling from others or lie about how much they’re spending.

While the majority of gambling takes place in casinos and other gaming venues, people can also play online. In fact, more people than ever are gambling online. There are some important things to remember when gambling online, though: Only gamble with disposable income; never use money that you’ll need for other expenses. It’s also important to set limits for yourself before you start gambling, and stick to them. Also, be sure to tip the dealers regularly, either in cash or by placing a bet for them.

When you gamble, it sends massive surges of dopamine through your brain. This is a great feeling, but it can cause you to seek more pleasure from gambling than from other activities and lessen the enjoyment of other things. Over time, gambling can change your brain chemistry so that you need more and more dopamine to get the same pleasure.

The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications to treat gambling disorders. However, psychotherapy can help. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you recognize and change negative thoughts and behaviors that lead to gambling problems. This type of therapy is conducted by a mental health professional and includes structured, goal-oriented sessions. Motivational interviewing is another effective treatment approach for problem gambling. This method focuses on your reasons for wanting to change and compares them to your gambling patterns. It then helps you make a plan to break your problematic habits. Lastly, group therapy can provide support from other people who have similar struggles.