Pathological Gambling Disorder

Gambling is the act of placing something of value on an uncertain event with the intention of winning a prize. It requires three elements: consideration, risk and a prize. While many people gamble recreationally, some people develop a pathological gambling disorder (PGD), where they are unable to control their gambling behaviours and are at risk of financial and personal problems. Pathological gambling is now recognised as a mental illness, similar to substance addiction.

The feeling of euphoria and pleasure is experienced when you make successful bets in gambling. This is due to the feel-good chemicals produced in your body, such as adrenaline and dopamine. However, it is important to realise that these positive feelings are temporary and can be replaced by other activities such as spending time with loved ones, exercise, healthy eating and sleeping.

It is also important to note that gambling is not a lucrative way to make money and can lead to debt and bankruptcy. It can also affect your social life by putting a strain on relationships, work and school. In some cases, it can even cause family violence and domestic abuse.

People who gamble do so to relieve boredom or unpleasant emotions, such as loneliness, stress or anxiety. Some people also use gambling to socialise or meet new people. Unfortunately, there are more effective ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and relaxing techniques.

Problem gamblers are more likely to report problems with non-strategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as slots and bingo. They also tend to have higher rates of comorbid mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It is important to recognise the signs of a problem and seek help early.

A common symptom is lying to friends and family about the amount of time you spend gambling. Other signs include hiding evidence of your gambling activities and relying on other people to fund your gambling or to cover your losses. Problem gambling can also negatively impact your career and education and lead to relationship difficulties.

Some people start to gamble when they feel bored or lonely and find it difficult to stop. Eventually, they start to gamble more frequently and spend more money, which can lead to debt and bankruptcy. Gambling can also be a compulsive behaviour, leading to increased risk taking and loss of control. Those with a gambling problem can experience anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and may even attempt suicide.

Gambling can be addictive because it gives the impression that you are in control of the outcome. It is normal to want to feel in control, but gambling is an unpredictable activity and you can’t change the odds of winning. This can lead to a ‘gambling fallacy’, where you believe that you are due for a big win and that you will recoup your losses by continuing to gamble. This is not sustainable and will only cause more losses.