Gambling is an activity in which people place bets on the outcome of a game or event with the intention of winning something of value. It can take many forms, from a social card or board game to a lottery. While it is a popular form of entertainment, gambling can also be addictive and lead to financial problems.
While there are no approved medications to treat gambling disorder, several types of psychotherapy can be helpful. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their problem. Another type of psychotherapy is motivational interviewing, which empowers people to solve their own uncertainty about healthy changes.
Some people may develop a problem with gambling due to their genes, personality traits, and environmental factors. For example, certain genetic mutations increase a person’s risk of thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity. Similarly, environmental factors such as culture may influence how people perceive and act on gambling opportunities.
Research shows that people with a history of pathological gambling are more likely to have mood disorders. In some cases, these symptoms may precede the development of gambling disorder, while in other instances depression appears after the onset of gambling behavior.
People with a history of gambling problems often start gambling at an early age and continue to gamble throughout their lives. Compared to nonpathological gamblers, they are more likely to engage in riskier and more intensive forms of gambling. In addition, they tend to engage in more nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as lotteries.