Gambling Disorders

Gambling is placing a value on something that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope of winning something else of value. This can be anything from money to prizes or goods, and can include a wide variety of activities, such as playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets, or betting on sports events (including office pools). In a broader sense, gambling also includes the purchase of life insurance, where the premium paid is considered a bet that one will die within a specified time, with the payout ratios set by actuarial analysis.

People who suffer from gambling disorders can experience short- and long-term financial, emotional, and social consequences. Those with low incomes are especially vulnerable, as they have more to lose than those who gamble with higher incomes. Young people are also particularly susceptible, with up to 5% of adolescents and adults developing a gambling disorder.

There is no FDA-approved medication to treat gambling disorders, but several types of psychotherapy can be helpful. These therapies are designed to help a person identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. They may involve one-on-one therapy with a trained mental health professional, group therapy, or family therapy.

People who have trouble controlling their impulses or assessing risk may benefit from a mood disorder treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps them change harmful thoughts and behaviors. Addressing underlying mood problems can also make it easier to deal with the stress caused by gambling.

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