Symptoms of Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a risky behavior where a person risks something of value on an event that is determined by chance. This can include sports betting, slot machines, and casino games.

Many people consider gambling to be a harmless diversion, but if a person is having a hard time controlling their gambling habits, they could be suffering from a condition called gambling disorder. It can lead to financial distress, depression, anxiety and other problems in the family and at work.

Symptoms of gambling disorder can occur at any age. They often start in adolescence and are more common among men than women. Some factors can increase a person’s risk of developing gambling disorder, including trauma, social inequality and genetics.

Some of the warning signs of gambling disorder are:

Having persistent thoughts about gambling (e.g., reliving past gambling experiences, thinking about how to get money with which to gamble). Having frequent losses, usually after an emotional stressor or feeling guilty or anxious. Having a need to win back money from gambling losses, which causes them to return to the game and make more bets or try to hide their gambling from others.

Compulsive gambling, also known as pathological gambling, is a form of addiction that is difficult to stop without professional help. It can cause a person to spend all of their savings, use up their credit cards and even steal money from their families. They may lie about their gambling and use other illegal ways to finance their habit.

It is not always easy to stop gambling, but it can be done with the support of a doctor and a support group. Behavioral therapy and counseling can help people deal with their emotions, find other ways to spend their money and solve problems related to gambling.

Research into the brain’s connection with gambling is critical to understanding why some people become addicted. Scientists have shown that people who have insula lesions (i.e., damage to the part of the brain that controls impulses) are more likely to show symptoms of gambling disorder than patients who do not have a damaged area of the brain.

The same is true of those who have lesions in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling decisions and planning. In this way, people with insula lesions have difficulty making good choices, which can result in repeated gambling behavior.

These findings are important because the brain has been linked to addiction in other areas. For example, cocaine abuse is associated with a reduction in insula activity and a change in the way the brain works in response to rewards.

Another way that the brain’s reward system is altered in addiction is through a process called neurogenesis. When people are exposed to a drug, such as cocaine, the brain changes to produce more rewarding neurotransmitters and reduce the activity of other chemicals, like dopamine. This is thought to be the reason why a person can become dependent on a drug and then continue to crave it.