Is Gambling a Mental Illness?


Gambling involves placing something of value on a random event, such as the roll of a dice, the spin of a roulette wheel or the outcome of a horse race, with the hope of winning a prize. In most gambling games, the house has an edge over the player and the likelihood of winning is very low. However, a player can increase their chances of winning by limiting the amount of money they wager, playing games with the lowest house edge, using betting strategies and knowing when to walk away.

While gambling is often seen as a harmless form of recreation, it can be addictive. According to various studies, as many as two million Americans meet the criteria for a gambling disorder. People with gambling disorders can experience emotional, physical and social problems as a result of their habit. In addition, harmful gambling can cause serious financial issues. If you have a gambling problem, seek help from a mental health professional.

The concept of gambling as a mental illness has become more accepted in recent years. While ten years ago it was controversial, today researchers have found that some people can develop an addiction to gambling just as they can be addicted to drugs. This is based on the fact that like other substances, gambling triggers a dopamine response in the brain, which is similar to that produced by ingesting chemicals. In addition, many people use gambling as a way to escape from unpleasant emotions, such as boredom or stress.

Unlike drug addiction, there are no specific tests to identify gambling as a disease. However, psychologists and psychiatrists can assess a person’s mood and behavior and make a diagnosis based on several factors. These include the tendency to be impulsive, a poor understanding of random events, a desire to win and a use of gambling as an escape coping mechanism. It is also important to note that gambling has a high correlation with depression.

In order to prevent a gambling addiction, it is recommended to avoid casino games and instead play online slots or play a game of cards with friends. It is also helpful to discuss your gambling habits with a trusted source who won’t judge you. This could be a family member, friend or professional counsellor. To reduce risk, consider reducing the number of credit cards you carry or having someone else be in charge of your finances, closing your online betting accounts and only carrying a small amount of cash.

Finally, it is important to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, or taking up new hobbies. If you are prone to gambling, learn to recognise when you are feeling down and avoid betting more than you can afford to lose. It is also a good idea to allocate a percentage of your disposable income for gambling and stop when this amount has been reached, regardless of whether you’re winning or losing.