Gambling Disorders – How to Recognize Them


There are several criteria for determining if someone is suffering from a gambling disorder. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, the term “gambling disorder” is listed alongside other addictive behaviors. The DSM defines a Gambling Disorder as a pattern of gambling that the Gambler has repeatedly tried to control and is unable to do so. It also describes symptoms of a Gambler’s compulsive behavior, which may include compulsive behavior, a sense of worthlessness, and a need for social status.

Problem gamblers are prone to compulsive behavior

A 2005 German study found that problem gamblers’ brains are not as responsive as normal to highs that occur when they win or when they lose. The researchers also found that pathological gamblers’ brains do not display normal levels of electrical activity in a key region of the reward system. Another study, conducted at the University of Amsterdam in 2012, found that pathological gamblers exhibited decreased impulsivity. This finding is consistent with the fact that problem gamblers display decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that helps assess risk and reward.

They often feel desperate for money

Addicts to gambling can become so obsessed with the money that they are willing to make deals with employers, family members, and friends to get even more. Their gambling addiction makes them believe that their personal success is dependent on their success at the casino, rather than any other factor. Gamblers often put their personal goals on a second place to their gambling, so their loved ones often lend them money to gamble. These family members may be worried about unpaid bills or children and want to help them.

They have other mood and behavior disorders

People with gambling disorders often suffer from other mood and behavior disorders as well. Although gambling is a fun, harmless activity, it can quickly become addictive and cause the individual to engage in other, less desirable behaviors. Such people might steal money or commit other illegal acts when they are not in the mood for such actions. People with gambling disorders should seek treatment to help them recover from the harmful effects of their addiction. Here are some symptoms of gambling disorder and how to recognize them.

They have thoughts of suicide

Problem gamblers are often susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Unlike recovery from substance use disorders, problem gambling involves a massive financial debt that serves as a constant reminder of the negative emotions associated with gambling. Because of this, these people frequently have thoughts of suicide as they feel like they can’t pay off the debt and the guilt over their losses. This debt can be a lifelong problem, and the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness associated with it can often cause these individuals to consider suicide.