Gambling is a popular pastime worldwide. For many people, it provides entertainment, social interaction and financial gain. However, for others it can lead to addiction and other health problems. While some may not be able to stop gambling, there are ways to limit the risks and help those who have a problem.
The human brain loves taking risks and that’s why gambling is so appealing to some. When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you excited. This neurological response is activated by the same parts of your brain that respond to drug abuse. This can explain why some people can’t resist the urge to gamble even when they know it could have dangerous consequences.
In addition to a negative impact on mental and physical health, excessive gambling can affect relationships and cause financial problems. It can also lead to poor performance at work or school and exacerbate depression. Some cultures consider gambling a normal activity and this can make it difficult to recognize a problem. It can also make it harder to seek help.
In a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association has moved pathological gambling from the “impulse control disorder” category to the “gambling disorder” chapter of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The move marks a new understanding of how biological factors can contribute to this impulse-control problem. The move will help psychiatrists treat individuals with this disorder and may have a positive impact on society at large.